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Give The Drummer Some!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It was in the 1967 song “Cold Sweat” that the late James Brown famously calls out, “give the drummer some! Give the drummer some!” Some what? Some space, apparently, as the band stops and leaves the spotlight to Clyde Stubblefield, who proceeds to spend the next 30 seconds inventing hip hop.

I’m kidding, but not too much: Stubblefield’s “break” would set the bar for similar rhythmic exercises that would come to define dance music in the 70s and which would become the basis for the “breakbeats” that were the foundation of early hip hop.

The godfather of soul might just as well have been pleading with listener to give the drummer some respect. With a few exceptions, drummers seem to be the forgotten man (or, occasionally, woman) in the band. A good example is Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. In concerts, back in the old days, all hell might break lose on stage – Mick strutting and threatening to lose his pants; Keith trying to simultaneously smoke and play and pump blood through his veins – but there at the center of the maelstrom would be Charlie, with a wry, indulgent smile and some steady, no-frills drumming. Exactly what the band needed. The Beatles even recorded without Ringo on occasion, with Paul handling drums on songs like “Back In The USSR.”

I think you’d have to say that Led Zep’s John Bonham was a more virtuosic drummer than Charlie Watts, hands down. He was certainly a wilder character (and this is a Rolling Stone we’re comparing him to!) The Who’s Keith Moon seems to have been the inspiration for Animal, the dumb and possibly dangerous drummer from The Muppet Band. So if people have an image of drummers, other than the quiet timekeeper in the back of the band, it’s that Animal idea: big, brash, empty-headed, and just barely restrained by the rest of the band. Which was exactly what Led Zeppelin and The Who needed.


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Comments [4]

Matt Merewitz from Brooklyn, NY

You be the judge:

Rose Live Music in Williamsburg has drummer-leaders every Tuesday (and a couple Wednesdays) in Feb and March: upcoming drummers include:

Feb 16 – Mike Pride: From Bacteria to Boys

Feb 23 – Dafnis Prieto: Proverb Trio w/Kokayi (vocals), Jason Lindner (keys)

Mar 2 – Bobby Previte’s Coalition of the Willing

Mar 9 – Billy Martin: Solo & Fang Percussion Ensemble

Mar 16 – Tom Tom Magazine: A Magazine About Female Drummers Presents a Night of Women at the Kit

WED Mar 17 – Jim Black's Pachora

Mar 23 – Ben Perowsky’s Moodswing Orchestra

Mar 30 – Mark Guiliana & Zach Danziger

WED Mar 31 – Ryan Sawyer with Thurston Moore & Daniel Carter

Feb. 10 2010 05:08 AM
Julian from Wash.Hgts

How do you make a guitar player play quietly?
Put a sheet of music in front of him.
How do you make a guitar player shut up?
Put notes on the sheet of music.

Feb. 09 2010 02:27 PM
Dave from Brooklyn

What do you call a guy who likes to hang around musicians?
A drummer.

What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?

What do you call a drummer in a three piece suit?
The defendant.

Feb. 09 2010 02:15 PM
John from Brooklyn

Janet, as always, is absolutely right. As the best living drummer, she knows exactly what she's talking about. Listen to the drum opening of One Beat and tell me it doesn't make that song.

Feb. 09 2010 02:12 PM

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