The Hines family arrived from New York a generation ago carrying a legacy of drumming in their genes. “My two brothers, my two sisters and I had always been in drum and bugle corps as drummers and majorettes. It was the family tradition,” music maestro Gary Hines told Insight News last week.
“We hadn’t been here a good week when Spike Moss tracked us down. He had heard about us being drummers. He asked to come around to the Elks. We drummed with the Elks, Cato Lodge and others from that point on,” he said.
Hines, founder of the Grammy-Award winning Sounds of Blackness, marched Wednesday night in the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade with the legendary Sabathanite Drum and Bugle Corps. He was a drummer and Captain of The Sabathanites from mid-sixties to the very early 70's and again presently a drummer.
The Sabathanites, created by Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis, were introduced to enthusiastic parade watchers by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
The mayor told on-lookers the Sabathanite appearance was special indeed because the group had not marched in the Aquatennial for the past three decades.
The Sabathanites’ return to the Aquatennial this year, he suggested, marks a sea-change in race-relations in Minneapolis.
For it was racial hostility in the mid-60s that led to the Black community, by and large, turning its back on the Downtown event. Former 8th Ward City Council Member, Brian Herron and a group of young adults experienced police brutality that signaled to Black residents they were not welcome in Downtown Minneapolis. The Sabathanites was among cultural organizations that refused to participate in the Aquatennial from that point on.
“Sabathanites going back to the Aquatennial represents a proactive move on the part of our people to reconnect based on the restoration of respect,” Hines said. “The music, as always, is the entree, the vanguard for resumption of interaction and engagement. The meaning of our participation and all that it represents goes beyond the Aquatennial.”
The vision: Hines said what should happen now is that our community takes a fresh look at our legacy with drum corps, locally, nationally and globally. “A lot of people here seemed to think that drum corps were just youth or teen activities. They are but they are so much more. In history in our community, and even in white communities, returning veterans formed the core members of drum corps, and these elders were intentional in passing their craft and skill on to young people. So there were always youth drum corps and senior drum corps,” said Hines.
“And in history, whenever and wherever the drum corps assembled to practice, crowds of dozens and hundreds were drawn to the magnetically magic drum music. Every practice was an event for toddlers, to pre-schoolers, to youth to adults, all enjoying the practice, and with some banging on pans or fences, learning the beats,” Hines said.
As the art of drumming and marching re-emerges, Hines said, we are going to find people will be called to community though drumming, as they were in the past.
At a practice at Sabathani last week, Hines learned, what happened before was happening again: from toddlers to elders, the community gathered to enjoy, learn and share in the joy of drumming.
Hines said he envisions development of viable junior and senior drum and bugle corps and exponential growth of the drumming movement here in Twin Cities.