Drumline Live coming to Gallo Center

The black college marching band tradition took off in the American Southeast, but its appeal is worldwide.

Based on the 2002 movie "Drumline," which starred Nick Cannon, the stage production "Drumline Live" was recently a hit on tour in Japan.

"When we gave them energy, they gave us energy," said Brian Snell, assistant musical director, casting director and drum major in the show. "They stood up, they clapped, they screamed."

Snell and the 38 other cast members are hoping for a similar response when they come to Modesto for a show at the Gallo Center for the Arts on Oct. 9.

A musical revue, "Drumline Live" traces the roots of black college marching bands from Africa, through swing, jazz, gospel, Motown and hip-hop. The show includes both original compositions and Top 40 hits from such groups as Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power and more current artists.

In addition to the musicians, the show features five dancers.

Most of the performers were recruited from historically black colleges and universities, and some were in the movie.

The show pleases everyone from children to grandparents, Snell said.

"It goes across age, gender, race," he said. "If it's high energy, it's exciting and it knows no boundaries. That's what we deliver -- pure energy and excitement."

Snell followed his father in joining the marching band at Florida A&M University and has appreciated the exuberant black marching band style since he was a small child.

"I think it's a cultural thing," he said. "In the community I grew up in, it was the norm."

Snell, 36, said he was in college when "Drumline" came out and he and his friends were thrilled with the movie.

"To see your story finally be told, it was a great thing," he said. "It meant a lot to us and our craft and what we do."

Musicians in the show audition by posting videos on YouTube. Snell said he also recruits by posting updates on social networking sites like Facebook.

"Basically, what you're seeing is an all-star band -- the best from all the different colleges and universities," Snell said.