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  • PAS Playlist: Train Beat by Christian Dorn

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 06, 2023


    The classic country train beat is a drum groove that can date itself all the way back to the roots of country music. When the first snare drum was allowed on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry, variations on train beats were played. Since then, drum sets have gotten larger, and songs and genres have changed, but train beats have stood the test of time. This groove is now a staple in the country genre and one every working drummer should have a confident grasp on.

    “High Tone Woman”
    George Strait
    If I had to pick one song to learn a train beat the right way, this would be it. Eddie Bayers plays wonderfully and gives a clinic on rock-solid country drumming. Pay close attention to how he never steps on the vocals and supports the auxiliary instruments throughout.

    “Forever and Ever, Amen”
    Randy Travis
    This is a great example of playing a train beat with brushes. With brushes, the hi-hat takes a more dominant role and accent control becomes even more valuable.

    “One More Last Chance”
    Vince Gill
    This track features a classic version of the train beat: sticks with a medium-low tuned snare. This is another great example of playing around the vocals and supporting the melody.

    “Your One and Only”
    McBride and The Ride
    McBride and The Ride take a little more of a rock approach to this train beat variation. The chorus is a full train beat, with the verses going back to a cross-stick, two-beat section. This really allows the train beat to shine on the chorus and bring the energy up. An Eddie Bayers trick happens on the turnarounds where quarter notes are added on the ride cymbal.

    “Pick It Apart”
    The New Nashville Cats
    This is a fun one. Coming in at a blazing 360 bpm, Paul Leim really drives the bus hard with this train beat! This song serves as a great test in dynamic control, relaxation, and maintaining tempo.

    The New Nashville Cats
    Sonically, this is a very cool variation on a classic train beat. To my ear it sounds like some sort of Hot Rod or wood bundle stick was used. This gives a nice attack and lets the accents sit on top of what is a very dense mix with multiple unison lines and solo sections.

    “Oh Me, Oh My, Sweet Baby”
    Diamond Rio
    This track is another classic train beat and a great example of not stepping on the vocals and working in between the vocal phrasing. This song also uses the rim as another sonic source for the train beat.

    “Close to The Edge”
    Diamond Rio
    This Diamond Rio track is a solid train beat from beginning to end without much variation. On the recording/mixing side of things, it sounds like they overdubbed a brush train beat on top of one with sticks. This adds a lot of depth to the beat and a certain consistency that works almost like a shaker track.

    “Train of Memories”
    Kathy Mattea
    This is a perfect example of playing a train beat over a dense vocal passage with harmony. The drums never get in the way, but are playing slight fills and variations almost every four bars.

    “Love Is Burnin’”
    Ricky Van Shelton
    Van Shelton’s tune takes a more rockabilly approach to the train beat with very rhythmic guitars and upright bass supporting the accents on beats 2 and 4.

    “Mud on the Tires”
    Brad Paisley
    This is a modern take on the classic train beat. With half-time verses and a sort of double-time chorus feel, the train beat really drives the song along. This is also an excellent example of layering shakers and tambourines to help bring out the subdivisions and add weight to the backbeat.

    Christian DornChristian Dorn is a professional drummer and recording/mixing engineer based in Dallas, Texas. He plays drums for Texas legends Eleven Hundred Springs, and is an in-demand session drummer at studios all over Texas. In 2018, Christian was voted the “Drummer of the Year” by the Texas Country Music Association. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas, works frequently as an educator and clinician, and is a member of the PAS Drumset Committee.

  • PAS Playlist: Ash Soan by Christian Dorn

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Jan 06, 2023

    Ash Sloan Playlist

    It’s hard to talk about the modern recording world or drumming world without mentioning Ash Soan. He is on so many hit records these days. Sam Smith, Seal, Adele, Tori Kelly, and many others all depend on Ash for a contagious groove and deep pocket.

    “Red Zone Killer”
    This is a great example of what Ash Soan is widely known for: a killer half-time shuffle!

    “Fix You”
    Sam Smith
    This is a classic Coldplay song covered by Sam Smith. The song is mostly stripped down and acoustic, but when the drums do come in, they come in hard. Ash uses an old Gretsch snare tuned really low for this almost sample-type backbeat.

    “Set Fire to the Rain”
    A classic Adele hit, this song has been streamed and played hundreds of millions of times. Ash keeps the groove simple, but really locks in with the programming and glues everything together nicely.

    “Stop Loving Her Today”
    Rod Stewart
    Playing drums and supporting an artist with a full string section is a tricky thing. Ash navigates this wonderfully on this track with a rock-solid shaker/cross-stick groove that leaves a lot of room for vocals.

    “You Make It Real”
    James Morrison
    On this track Ash does a great job of building the dynamics throughout the song. He keeps the groove relatable and fitting the whole time but adds different variations and ghost notes to keep the energy moving forward. This is also a great track for some tried-and-true pop drum fills.

    “Up On This”
    Jeff Lorber Fusion
    Ash is a chameleon of a player, from pop hits to playing with some giants in the fusion world. On this track, Ash proves why he gets all the calls. He locks in a wonderful backbeat that gels perfectly with the percussion and synth layers.

    “Dancing Queen”
    A modern take on a classic Abba song, this version stays very close to the original in terms of parts. Ash locks in a great dance/disco groove and stays true to the original drum part while adding his own signature sound.

    “Kid I Used to Know”
    Tori Kelly
    Tori Kelly is a vocal powerhouse, and staying out of her way is imperative to a track like this. Ash blurs the lines between programming and live drums on this tune and really elevates the groove with small embellishments like open hi-hats, simple tom grooves, and spot-on cymbal placement.

    Alicia Keys
    This is another song where the line between real drums and programming is blurred. Ash locks in perfectly with the claps and programmed kicks and swells. It honestly sounds like one cohesive part, which is hard to do.

    “The Hall of Heroes”
    Hanz Zimmer
    Showing another version of his skill, Ash is also a first-call drummer for movie scores and cinema parts. As one would expect, this tune goes from groovy, to orchestral, to classical, to ’70s-sounding theme songs and video game-type music. Ash handles all these genre changes like a pro.

    “Not Where It’s At”
    Del Amiti
    For something completely different, this tune has a modern take on more of a ’50s or ’60s sound, featuring infectious drum grooves, catchy lyrics, and pop gold producing. Ash keeps all the fills and grooves appropriate to the style and plays for the song.

    Christian DornChristian Dorn is a professional drummer and recording/mixing engineer based in Dallas, Texas. He plays drums for Texas legends Eleven Hundred Springs, and is an in-demand session drummer at studios all over Texas. In 2018, Christian was voted the “Drummer of the Year” by the Texas Country Music Association. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas, works frequently as an educator and clinician, and is a member of the PAS Drum Set Committee.

  • PAS Playlist: Richie Hayward by Scotti Iman

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Dec 05, 2022

    Iman Playlist

    Richie Hayward is one of my top three drummers of all time and space. When I first saw him live with Little Feat in 2003, my jaw dropped, and my desire to become the world’s fastest pop punk drummer quickly receded into the ether. Richie commanded the grooves in Little Feat with an ease that seemed effortless but filled the room with joyous sound. He tended to phrase his grooves with the vocal line but never in a way that overpowered the music, just enough emphasis to add energy when needed. He was a true master drummer, and I’m happy that we have such a large catalog of his work to enjoy. Here are a few of those fantastic Feat grooves with a few others peppered in.

    “Dixie Chicken”
    Probably one of the more popular Little Feat tunes and rightfully so. Richie’s playing follows the vocals and adds slight, funky accents when necessary.

    “Fat Man in the Bathtub”
    This track always reminds me how locked in Richie and percussionist Sam Clayton were. The congas and kit were never fighting for attention; they really operated as a percussion section.

    “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”
    Listen to this track and tell me that isn’t some of the funkiest hi-hat work you’ve ever heard.

    “The Fan”
    This is a great example of Richie letting the melody dictate how his groove should be phrased. The song being in 7/8 definitely really made Richie flow and open up a bit more when it came to timekeeping. Plus, those toms just sound fantastic.

    “Wheels of Fortune”
    Richie and John Hartman do a killer job double drumming on this track. Little Feat always had more of a New Orleans jazz influence, while the Doobie Brothers were a little more straight-ahead on the jazz side of things. I love how the Richie and John combo still keeps a touch of the laid-back feel while the song barrels forward.

    “Mercenary Territory”
    The solo section on this tune is the big thing to me. Richie doesn’t play a million things as the guitar solo grows. He just dials up the intensity a bit, knowing that the horns are going to have their time to shine.

    “Mama Mercy”
    Two things on this track that make it absolutely awesome: one, a very Doobie Brothers feel on the verses with the floor tom on beat 4, and two, the fills at the end are so NOLA groovy. It’s that classic Hayward way of driving the band while laying the beatback just enough that the grease shows.

    “Strawberry Flats”
    I love Richie’s bass drum tone on this track. The whole kit sounds clean, but there’s something about it that just hits me every time. The sixteenth-note hi-hats out of the blue 50 seconds in are a great stylistic choice that Richie just throws in easily.

    “Hamburger Midnight”
    Richie’s groove has a real “Footsteps in the Dark” vibe that is still as funky today as it was back then. Give Thundercat’s “Them Changes” a listen and see what I’m talking about. Plus, this is the only song I know of where a drum fill breaks up a fight.

    “Cajun Rage”
    When in my head I picture Richie playing, this groove is always the first to pop up. It’s a real stompin’, snare-crushin’ second line that’s a great reminder of the force that Richie was behind the kit. I can picture him opening his mouth on every backbeat and being fully in the zone with the tune.

    “Long Time Till I Get Over You”
    This track is a perfect example of Richie throwing in accents to add emphasis to the vocals and the melody line on the guitar solo. Take note that he just hits crashes and doesn’t play a million notes in between each one. Just simple touches put in the correct spots without unnecessary filler.

    Scotti ImanScotti Iman is an independent drummer and educator based in St. Louis, Missouri. When not teaching privately he plays with artists Cree Rider, SideCar, and The STL Rhythm Collaborative. More information can be found at Instagram (@scottiimandrums) or you can reach him at

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