MANHATTAN, NY—Singer/guitarist Michael Glabicki formed his first and only real band, Rusted Root, around 1990 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Even from the beginning, his vision was to make multicultural rock and soul music that fused American roots music with rhythms from African, Latin American, and Native American influences. The band sold more than three million albums in the ’90s and then for the most part faded away from visibility in the 2000s. Rusted Root is comprised of Glabicki on lead vocals and guitar, Liz Berlin on backing vocals and percussion, Dirk Miller on guitars, Patrick Norman on bass guitar and Preach Freedom on drums. The group has released seven studio albums, the most recent of which is 2012’s The Movement.
At the Gramercy Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 11, Rusted Root performed an overview of its 24-year career of non-genre-specific polyrhythmic music. Balancing footholds in both jam band and world music but not comfortably confined to either genre, the band coasted on grooves rather than on predictable pop structures. Glabicki picked almost gypsy-sounding leads on his acoustic guitar, and harmonized old-world style with Berlin on numerous songs.
The performance never really picked up steam, preferring to chill in trance-like rhythm patterns that flowed from one song to the next. However, the spell was broken with a three-song encore that jump-started with a left-of-center cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” and ended with the group’s two biggest radio hits, “Send Me On My Way” and a percussion-based groove that led into “Ecstasy.”
If nothing else, Rusted Root performed honest music, unrefined in that it was not packaged for commercial consumption and yet catchy enough to encourage the audience to free-form movement in the small theater’s open floor.
To see more information about the band, visit rustedroot.com.