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Drummer’s last stand

It has been reported that Treme Brass Band member Lionel Batiste was propped up into a standing position during his own wake in New Orleans.

Batiste was a member of the Treme Brass Band since its formation in 1995, and contributed vocals and bass drum to the popular New Orleans jazz group.

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New Orleans is known for its ‘jazz’ funerals, which act as a celebration of someone’s life rather than a sombre mourning of their passing.

No matter how unique funerals in the ‘Big Easy’ are, however, a standing cadaver is something unusual.

“You have to think outside the box, and he’s outside the box! We didn’t want him to be confined to his casket,” said funeral worker Louis Charbonnet, who remarked that he had never before done anything like the stand-up viewing in his 50 years in the funeral industry.

Lionel Batiste’s body stood against a mock-up gas lamp holding a cane and sporting his trademark watch, whistle and jewellery.

Hundreds of family, friends and neighbours packed out the Mahalia Jackson Theatre to say their goodbyes to Batiste, as a procession of musicians played to him in tribute.

After one last casketed, horse-drawn carriage tour around the city’s iconic French Quarter, Batiste was laid to rest.

Uncle Lionel’, as he was affectionately known, passed away on 8 July at the age of 81.

Image courtesy of Infrogmation.

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