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Kermit Ruffins Remembers “Uncle” Lionel Batiste

Feb. 1, 1931-July 8, 2012

Kermit Ruffins
"Uncle" Lionel Batiste

When I first heard Uncle Lionel I was playing with the Rebirth Brass Band; it had to be about 1983. I had an opportunity to hang with Uncle Lionel almost every day and every night. He would entertain from the time he’d walk in the door till the time he left, and I came to realize early on why everybody called him Uncle Lionel, because I felt like he was my real uncle.

It was almost like going to college-he was like a professor for me, because I learned so much from him. He realized I was interested in learning a lot of songs, so we would sit at the bar and he would sing all these tunes that he wanted me to know. Then he would sing them on gigs and I would watch him and listen to him sing almost every night. I would follow him whether I was on the gig or not. He showed me a lot of showmanship, too; he had a lot of style and class.

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