Bugs Henderson’s Bugs’Blues
If you’ve ever found yourself in a country
bar, you’ve likely encountered the train-beat groove. The train-beat groove is
found throughout country music, and can
ultimately trace its roots back to bluegrass.
The main characteristic the train-beat
shares with bluegrass is its snare pattern – a
consistent, uptempo groove with accents
on the upbeats. While it’s not as fast as
bluegrass, the train-beat does have a
double-time feel to it, making it popular on
the dance floor. Because country music now
borrows much of its style from rock n’ roll,
the train-beat can be played as a shuffle or
as a straight rock groove.
This month, we’ll look at two rhythm examples based in this type of groove. Keep in
mind that these styles are very percussive
– you’ll want to lock in with the drummer
on these rhythms, as that is what drives
the song. Keep your chord stabs staccato,
almost like a horn player would. As with
all comping, experiment with inversions
of chords to keep things interesting – try
mixing in the occasional 9th to your play-
ing – although in the train-beat groove, the
chords take a backseat to the overall rhythmic feeling of the song.
If you find yourself singing and playing
simultaneously, the train-beat groove is a
versatile tool to keep you sounding good.
By keeping things simple and locking into
an underlying groove, you can focus on
singing a story. And that’s really what country music is about.