Rusted Root (Photo by Nathan Ekis Photography)
“We are going to play some new stuff. Try out a few, maybe five, new songs. We are releasing the new stuff in chunks,” says Michael Glabicki, the lead vocalist and songwriter for Rusted Root on the phone from Asheville, North Carolina. Not exactly what I expected to hear from a band that started 25 years ago and whose last album was in 2012.
Rusted Root began organically as a four-piece, a couple of high school friends. Their first gig was opening for a high school band at The Electric Banana, a punk club in Pittsburgh, where the group is from originally and all still live. Their first demo, “Cruel Sun,” (1992) started selling out of their truck, 30,000 copies to be exact, and they realized that the fans wanted more and so did record labels. Nine months later and with a record deal, “When I Woke” (1994) hit the scene and college students in dorms all over the nation took to “Send Me On My Way.” Word kept spreading and the band found themselves opening for Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead.
“It was really grassroots, a slow gradual build, a steep climb but moving along (how we got signed). I got inspired by African drumming ensembles and saw them on some college campuses. A friend of mine and my cousins were involved in some. I really related to it, really felt it in my gut. I started playing and writing music that would be rhythmic on the guitar, that African drumming could fill in. And then Peter Gabriel came out with “So,” (1986) right as I was putting it all together. And it was very personal for me. The influence was someone is doing this now, there is a door open and people will kinda get it. It will be bigger than an art venture,” says Glabicki.
Glabicki writes the majority of the group’s songs, though he occasionally leaves some open ends to let the group help fill those spaces in, or there will be spontaneous songwriting while sound checking onstage.
Rusted Root has played Richmond before at the Canal Club, Innsbrook After Hours and Friday Cheers. This time, they play in a space that's a bit more intimate, The Tin Pan, tonight (Thursday, March 31), at 8 p.m. $60. 447-8189 or tinpanrva.com.
Here they are, doing "Send Me on My Way."