Shot over the course of a year and a half, The Whole Gritty City follows the Roots of Music Marching Band in its first year, from a roomful of raw beginners to playing and marching past crowds of thousands in New Orleans Mardi Gras parades. The story of the Roots of Music Band is the spine of a film that tells a larger story. While keeping sight of these young band members, the film takes us on a journey through the New Orleans these kids are trying to grow up in. It bears witness to their lives and their struggles, and to adults who are helping them negotiate these perilous years. As we follow them we witness the beauty, grace, wisdom and humor that endure in a community that remains vital despite the problems that afflict it. We see and hear how music pervades and lifts these lives, from marching bands to second lines to gospel choirs.