Drum & Percussion Lessons
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The groove on Bustin' Loose, performed by drummer Ricky Wellman, is a classic example of 'Go-Go', a subgenre of funk music popularized by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers in the Washington D.C. area back in the mid to late 70's.

Although the groove is notated using straight, duple note values, the signature feel of 'Go-Go' is an implied swing with the syncopated figure that we see on beats 3 and 4 of the first measure of the Bustin' Loose groove. An occasional open Hi-Hat is another signature sound to the groove, and in the case of this particular tune, the open Hi-Hat sound is fairly consistent.

Check it out ...

Bustin Loose

The Hi-Hat eighth-notes are straight; the sixteenth-notes in the Kick drum imply a swing feel with a slight lilt. Be sure to find a good pocket by laying the Snare drum backbeats on the backside of the pulse.


Congas are another key ingredient to the 'Go-Go' sound, and in Bustin' Loose, the congas, as performed by percussionist, Gregory Gerran, outline a syncopated, dotted-eighth-note sound, indigenious to the 'Go-Go' music style. Occuring at the beginning of each measure, we can hear this syncopated, dotted-eighth-note sound in the drums as well.

Bustin Loose congas

Remember that even though the notation is written as straight sixteenth-notes, the signature feel of 'Go-Go' has an implied swing feel to it.

An interesting observation is that this conga pattern closely resembles the tumbao used in the Guaquanco, a sub-genre of the Cuban rumba. Thinking along those lines, the conga is outlining the basic tumbadora and segundo drum parts as they would be played in 2:3 rumba clave pattern.

The two accented strokes, at the beginning of each bar, outline (what I call) the 'Charleston' rhythm. Notice that Gerran plays an open-slap on the second note of the first bar. This approach is continued throughout the tune with slight changes, probably by accident, from time to time. So open-tones are used throughout, with exception to the open-slap I mentioned earlier.

With the drum and conga parts on Bustin' Loose, you'll want to get the pattern down first, then begin working on your feel as you listen and play-along to the record. It's a real challenge, playing the same figure over and over again while trying to maintain the proper feel ... for almost 8 minutes!

Be sure to check out that funky cowbell during the drum/percussion breakdown in the middle of the tune.



Bart Elliott

Bart Elliott is a degreed professional musician currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. His 40 years in the music industry, over 100 albums to his credit, as well as his understanding of contemporary and classical music, makes him a complete and skilled master musician. A highly sought after drummer and percussionist, both live and in the studio, Bart is widely known as a top music educator, visual artist, consultant and gifted teacher, appearing as a guest artist and clinician throughout the USA and abroad.

Bart Elliott is the founder and sole proprietor of DrummerCafe.com — established in December 1996.