Herman Matthews: The Huck-A-Buck

This month’s groove lesson is about The Huck-A-Buck. The what? The Huck-A-Buck. It’s all about the feel in between the notes. Let’s not mistake this with what’s called the hump or the lope of a feel, although all of that is part of it. The Huck-A-Buck is considered the juice or the fat of a groove.

My dad is from Texas, my mom is from Louisiana, and growing up listening to drummers from those parts always blew me away. The sound that they got out of the kit was like a marching band or a huge drum section, but they were only playing 2 and 4. I didn’t get it until one night when I got a chance to see the funkiest drummer alive. A band called the Meters was playing at this little hole in the wall and this drum God was creating such a groove it was mind-blowing. He was playing a sixteenth-note feel, with his right hand playing 2 and 4 on the snare as well as the upbeats, or the and’s, on the hat. The left hand was playing the e’s and ah’s on the snare drum very lightly.

Well, the e’s and ah’s is The Huck-A-Buck, and usually the sloppier the better. By the way, that drummer was none other than the great Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste. There are other drummers who have that same grease going on in their playing, like Dave Garibaldi on Tower Of Power’s “Down To The Nightclub,” Bernard Purdie on Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and if I may be so bold, Herman Matthews on Tower Of Power’s “Taxed To The Max.” Just a few examples of that Huck-A-Buck thing.

Here are some Huck-A-Buck grooves for you. Try playing them around 100 to 110 beats per minutes. Get funky with it, make it full. Make sure the backbeat is strong and the grace notes are soft and gentle.

DRUM! Notation Guide

Herman Matthews

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