Every Day Is Something Different

River City Drumbeat
Stars: Edward “Nardie” White, Albert Shumake, Imani Keith, Jailen Leavell, Emily Carey, Ed Hamilton and River City Drum Corps
Directors: Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatte
Composer: B. Quincy Griffin
Cinematography: John Anderson Beavers and Juan Carlos Castaneda
Owsley Brown Presents
Rating: not rated but could be PG
Running Length: 95 Minutes 

What makes a band. And then again, what makes a part of that band? There can be sections of woodwinds, brass, and with an orchestra, string instruments, then we come to percussion. The beat of the band.  “River City Drumbeat” tells the story of one such organization, founded over thirty years ago in Louisville, KY, and still going strong.  The River City Drum Corps. Now, Louisville is famous not only for the Ohio River but a top-notch drum corps.

Edward “Nardie” White had a dream of founding a drum corps to not only bring music to the community, but to help young African Americans learn working together, more of their heritage and the basics of music.  Oh, did he succeed.  Fast forward thirty years and in this documentary, Mr. White is handing his baton to one of his students, Albert Shumake, who had gone to the University of Kentucky on a scholarship. What goes around, comes around.

The documentary takes us to rehearsals, marching, and performance. Though, I would have liked more performance.  The band’s precision is exquisite. When the drums start, you want to clap, snap your fingers and tap your feet. We are introduced to three students, Imani Keith, Jailen Leavell and Emily Carey. We follow them through rehearsals, their daily lives and the commitment to the program.  Life skills. As one mother says,  “When your kid joins drum corps---you all join drum corps. “

We see what the word “commitment” means.  Being on time for rehearsal, taking care of your drum and practice. From primary school grade and on, the word “discipline” comes forth. There is practice, the maintenance of the drums and for young students—the making of their own drum. There is temptation to go and run with another group, but your togetherness is now with music and the feel of the music within you. As Albert Shumake says, “Everyone is a drummer…when you're a baby, the first sound you hear is the sound of your mother's heartbeat.”

The documentary shows us the various sections of Louisville that you don’t see on a tourist map. When a child decides to join the drum corps, it is a decision that will change them. Performing while marching is one thing, but being in concert is quite another and an awesome experience for a young person.  You also get to see the studio of famed sculpture Ed Hamilton, a friend of Edward White, who has a secret ambition of his own.

For those who have watched parades and bands go marching by them, this documentary details what goes into making such a band.  Hard work, discipline and commitment. We see that Imani, finds that being the only girl within her drum section leads to questions and explaining and  leadership. She eventually goes to college and is in their marching band. Emily, also learns to explain what she does in the band, and has now gone from one drum to another and plays bass drum. Jailen is in college. 

The surroundings you grew up in, does not define you. The future is all yours. 


Copyright 2020 Marie Asner