Book Reviews
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The Total Blues DrummerThe Total Blues Drummer is an exciting journey through the diverse world of blues drumming. It covers many of the styles that make blues drumming so rewarding—from the blues sounds of Chicago, Memphis, and Texas to funky blues, jazz blues, and blues-rock. You'll learn drumbeats in the vein of famous artists like Buddy Guy, B. B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, and ZZ Top.

Beginning and intermediate players will find all the tools they need to become great drummers, while more advanced players will find a fresh perspective and expert tips on the art of blues drumming. Using the book you’ll start with basic blues beats, and end up playing linear "supergrooves" that will help secure your status as a bona fide blues master. The included CD features a full blues band demonstrating the examples in the book.

The Total Blues Drummer is now available as a book and CD set for $19.99. Pick up your copy at a local music retail store, or buy it online today through the Drummer Cafe.

 

REVIEW

The Total Blues Drummer is 127 pages in length and broken into 23 chapters. Chapters 1-2 covers the basics of holding the drumsticks to reading music notation. Chapters 3-5 covers basic eighth-note, sixteenth-note, eighth-note-triplet and sixteenth-note-triplet reading (notes and rests) with simple beats and fills.

Chapters 6-11 covers basic blues beats, train beats, straight and swung feels, funky blues beats, and slow blues, plus using ghost-notes and rimshots.

Chapters 12-14 discusses leading with the right hand, tuning to get the blues sound, and mentions a few of the more commonly known (non-drummer) blues players.

Chapter 15 gets into advanced blues shuffles, rock shuffles, half-time shuffles, double bass shuffles and fills. Chapter 16 gets into some "advanced grooves" which are more syncopated; linear grooves are briefly mentioned here as well. Chapter 17 is about the Bo Diddley beat.

Chapter 18-19 is about flams, paradiddles and double stroke rolls and applying them.

Chapter 20 covers some basic odd time signature beats and fills. Chapter 21 discusses ideas for single and double bass drum applications in the blues.

Chapter 22 discusses basic blues structure and dynamics. Chapter 23 introduces the cross-stick technique.

The Appendix provides some useful tips for getting ready for the gig, equipment checklist, sound check, etc.

I would recommend The Total Blues Drummer for beginners in blues drumming or intermediate players looking to broaden their musical pallet with respect to blues drumming concepts. This is hardly "the only book you'll ever need" simply because there's so much more to the blues music genre, and much that this book doesn't cover. Example, there's no mention of two-handed shuffles, something that is extremely prevalent in Texas and Chicago blues drumming styles. There's no discussion or demonstration of the subtleties of straight and swung grooves; straight eighth/sixteenth versus triplets ... and everything in between.

The supplemental CD gives good (although short) playing examples of the exercises, beats and fills in the book, although many of the audio examples seem to ignore the notated accents written in the book.

Since so much of basic drumming skills and music notation is covered in the book, plus the fact that a large bulk of the rhythms, fills and grooves can be used in other popular styles (e.g. rock, country, pop), The Total Blues Drummer could also prove to be a nice book for beginner drumset players in general, regardless of what their music genre interests may be.