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TriPod Xtras: Herlin Riley And Joe Lastie

Laine Kaplan-Levenson
Joe Lastie (left) and Herlin Riley (right) are drummers and first cousins. They sit in Herlin Riley's music room in his home in New Orleans East.

TriPod put out an episode on the legendary Lastie family — a family that holds generations of iconic musicians. I talked to drummers and first cousins Herlin Riley and Joe Lastie about their experience growing up in this musical family, what it was like to hear Professor Longhair and Dr John play in their living room, what it was like to have their introduce drums into the spiritual church, and what it was like to get yelled at by that same grandfather when they tried to play James Brown in that same spiritual church.

Herlin and Joe have been playing the drums their whole lives, and have traveled the world playing with some of the best musicians in the world, from Wynton Marsalis to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They’re both around 60 years old, and still play regular gigs. They also still play music in their respective churches.

It was an honor to spend a couple hours with these two at Herlin’s house in New Orleans East. And because there’s so much more than what I could put in to the episode, I decided to release the majority of the interview here. I will warn you that this is unpolished, it’s really just the raw tape of my time with them, but there are so many gems in here that I want to be out there for you all to hear. So that.  So enjoy being a fly on the wall in my conversation with Herlin Riley and Joe Lastie.


Tripod is a production of WWNO in collaboration with the historic New Orleans collection and the midlo center for New Orleans studies at UNO.