Vince Anderson enters the modest stage in robes and long beard, striking the image of Dr. John working magic in music through a keyboard, a growly soulful voice and a tight backing band. Rather than the voodoo of New Orleans, though, he’s singing the gospel of his church background in the wilds of Williamsburg.

A seminary dropout, he goes by The Reverend in his weekly performances at a Brooklyn pool hall. There, he bares his soul and creates a community through his inspired performances. For a while he also bared his body during his freewheeling set, but has lately toned down on that.

We learn all this through the engaging documentary film from Nick Canfield, “The Reverend” that has been kicking around for a couple of years and was added this month to the Criterion Channel.

At at time when we seem awash in music documentaries that barely crack the ego shells of their fragile subjects, here’s one that finds an unsung hero, of which there must be hundreds in the country, who do their singing out of inspiration other than some ideas of fame or fortune, who are able to create a community in modest settings and make a difference to the lucky few who take part in the free shows.

Anderson stumbled into his vocation through a process of finding himself in the city, and his dedicated band the Love Choir are full of luminaries that Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio and baritone sax master “Moist” Paula Henderson of Burnt Sugar Arkestra — musicians committed to be part of the spirit he’s conjuring on stage despite not being religious at all.

In many ways, “The Reverend” is the perfect music documentary — as honest reflection from Anderson and his everyday life, commuting, gardening, making himself a tasty pastrami sandwich, leading naturally into one of his songs on stage — many of which are thankfully presented at length to show their natural appeal.

Anderson may only perform to audiences of 20 at a time but they are all fully engaged and pumped up by what he’s able to bring to the stage. It’s no surprise that one of them was Questlove of The Roots (an Oscar winner for his own music documentary, “Summer of Soul”) who briefly appears to offer his own testimony. 

Canfield, a former cinematographer for the Maysles Brothers for whom this is is his director debut, stays with Anderson long enough not only to catch up on his early life and unusual forays into things like Jay Bakker’s Revolution Church, run by the tattooed guy who is son of Jim and Tammy Bakker. He also is enlisted to go out west to help out a community voting project and help mourners at an El Paso mass shooting. 

He catches Anderson in heartbreak but also in matrimonial triumph, capped by his wedding’s musical second line march through the neighborhood. 

Described at one point as “The Holy Spirit meets the Tasmanian Devil” Anderson began playing empty barrooms pairing his accordion with a guitarist finding “drunk people like gospel music.”

Toward the end of the film, Anderson augments his weekly gigs with a day job as music director at an Episcopal church in Bushwick. “There’s not many places where we can sing together,” he says at one point. “That’s why I stick around the church.”

And while he makes pointed political statements about the wayward drift of the Christian right in songs like “Don’t Think Jesus Would Have Done It that Way,” he also finds music as a way to heal a divided country. “You can’t yell at each other when you’re singing together,” he says, looking for a goal to harmonize.

That makes the quite secular “The Reverend” a hopeful film, in a time that needs it. 

“The Reverend” is showing on the Criterion channel, and available on demand on Prime Video and Night Time+.