Born August 28, 1958, New Orleans, Louisiana
Played with: Professor Longhair, Irma Thomas, Antoine Domino, Narvin Kimball
From the moment he received his first drum set at age eight, Joe Lastie’s destiny was clear — although given his family history, the odds were always good that he would follow the footsteps of his mother, both grandfathers, and three uncles into a life devoted to music. Church played a critical role in Joe’s personal and creative growth; he played his first job with a rhythm section backing the Desire Community Choir. He also studied jazz with Willie Metcalf at the Dryades Street YMCA, where his classmates included the young Wynton and Branford Marsalis. In 1969 he moved with his family to Queens, New York, where he took lessons from Clyde Harris through the public schools. His drumming improved enough to earn him a gig with the pit band for the New Orleans musical One Mo’ Time. Joe elected to return to New Orleans after graduating from high school; there, through a casual encounter on Bourbon Street, he picked up a steady gig with bassist Richard Payne’s band. On a tip from trumpeter Gregg Stafford, Lastie was invited to substitute on drums at Preservation Hall in 1989; he has been a regular drummer with the band since then.
“I’m saying this from my heart: Playing at Preservation Hall is like playing in church. When we do ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ or ‘Bye and Bye’ I play them the same way I used to do them in church. It’s no different. In fact, a lady came up to me in Europe and said, ‘You play like you’re sharing a gift from God. It’s like God put you here just to play drums and God’s watching from above.’ That’s what makes New Orleans jazz feel so good: It comes from the church.”
“When my family moved to New York it was funny because I used to look at the Preservation Hall band on TV. I’d see Mr. Percy and Mr. Willie [Humphrey] dancing around the stage. It was beautiful, man. I never dreamed I’d ever play with this band — and now I do. I still play gospel, I play rhythm & blues, I play the Mardi Gras/Longhair style — and yes, I want to keep playing that music too. But there’s no place I’d rather play than Preservation Hall, with this band.”