Drums | Preservation Hall Foundation Hall Fellow Honoree
Receiving his first drum set at age eight, Joe Lastie was destined to carry on the traditions of his highly musical family, which included his mother, both grandfathers, his aunt Betty, and his uncles Melvin, David, and Walter “Popee.” Born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward, Joe’s grandfather was a minister and is credited with popularizing the drum set in church music. As a youth, Joe would set up a small drum kit at the foot of his grandparents’ bed and practice on whatever drums were available. “It didn’t matter if it was just a snare drum and cymbal,” he remembered, “I’d always find a way to make it work out.”
Lastie 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 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 Broadway musical One Mo’ Time. Lastie returned to New Orleans after high school and picked up a steady gig with bassist Richard Payne’s band. On a tip from trumpeter Gregg Stafford, Lastie was invited to substitute at Preservation Hall in 1989; he has been a regular drummer with the band since then.