When I initially did the video for my contribution to the Groove of the Month, it was the week after the birthday of the late, great Clyde Stubblefield. So it seemed appropriate to focus on “Cold Sweat,” as it’s my favorite James Brown groove. How many times have you had to play “Mustang Sally” at a wedding, but it just doesn’t quite have the energy? Throw the “Cold Sweat” groove in there and you get butts on the dance floor.
“Cold Sweat” is also one of my favorite grooves to break down with students. Replacing the basss drum with a snare hit in beat 1 of the bridge is simple and brilliant. Combine that with the relentless opening of the hi-hat on the “ands” of 1 and 3, and the dynamic playing of ghost notes on the snare, it provides a lot for students to chew on. The best part is seeing their faces when they put it all together and it finally clicks.
In the video, I run through the verse groove four times, leading to four times through the bridge, and once through the release. I am breaking it down on my teaching kit, which is an old Cleveland-era club-date style Rogers kit.
Michael Bahan is an in-demand player and educator living in Austin, Texas. He plays with Ruby Dee & The Snakehandlers, The Boss Jaguars, Hog Branch Groove Band, and The Pearl Snaps, and he can be found on various sessions as a percussionist, including with Styx and Todd Sucherman. He owns and operates Cascade Studios Austin, a rehearsal, teaching, and recording studio.