August 6, 2020  (Web Review)

River City Drumbeat

(2019) 95 min. DVD: $199. Good Docs ( PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

This touching documentary tells the story of a drum corps for African-American youth in Louisville, Kentucky, and the company’s founder and guiding light for three decades, Edward White. The film was shot at a particularly poignant moment in White’s tenure, as he prepares to step aside and turn the reins over to a former student, Albert Shumake. As one might expect, the occasion calls for a great deal of perspective, reminiscing, humility, and testimonials about both White’s inspirational leadership—which included teaching youngsters to build their own ornate instruments from industrial parts, cattle skin, and paint—and Shumake’s young character, which has been tested through his community’s challenges for black young men. We hear from several senior members of the corps, whose lives were enriched by White’s emphasis for kids on music as a channel to their African-American heritage. Happily, there’s no skimping on footage of the drum corps in performance, with all the panache, flourish and precision White has lovingly drilled into his charges for a generation. Strongly recommended. Aud: K, E, I, J, H, C, P. (T. Keogh)