Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis
Rusted Root may have had humble indie beginnings in 1990, building up its fan base on a grassroots level, but it eventually blossomed into a jam-centered band with one of the most faithful college age followings of the last decade. The eclectic jazz, rock and reggae multi-cultural melting pot rode the crest of major label life, first landing on Mercury and more recently Island, while having live shows regularly circulated in the bootleg community. Those who've closely followed the group will notice a somewhat lengthy break following 2002's Welcome to My Party studio endeavor, but that doesn't mean members are throwing in the towel anytime soon, nor are they ceasing the product flow.
Besides the band readying a live two CD set from the last couple years of touring, individual members are exploring their own projects, most notably singer and guitar player Michael Glabicki. The front man has never been shy about stepping away from the group on occasion, though over the last several months he's increased that visibility immensely. A full-fledged summer and fall tour was recorded and rumored to warrant a live solo CD, which is to be followed by a bandless studio recording.
For those who've seen Rusted Root and its sea of instruments on stage, catching a stripped down environment with only a guy and a guitar sure was different, but also forced material from the group's past catalogue to be presented in fresh light. Without the wall of sound and improvisational randomness, cuts like "Hands Are Law," "Send Me On My Way" and "Food and Creative Love" could stand alone on unaccompanied acoustic simplicity and Glabicki's rough necked wail. However, the headliner was careful not to just exclusively dwell in the past, rather previewing what's been hiding up his sleeve since Rusted Root's last record.
Though those selections were not very familiar to most gathered and seemingly dull in comparison to the band's party packed material, it was mildly interesting to hear the songwriter's personal musings and free flowing expressions. Amongst those included were "Animals Love Touch" and "Crucible Glow," both slightly quirky in context but catchy, cozy numbers punctuated by gritty vocals. The most likely titled "Out of Touch" was also amongst his forthcoming unveilings, again subdued in comparison to barnburners like Rusted Root's "Voodoo," "Blue Diamonds" and "Women Got My Money," but still relatively accomplished in its own right.
As an entertainer without the band that usually backs him, Glabicki is by no means creme of the crop or likely to hold more than the few hundred people gathered for a lengthy amount of time. Still at least in this context fans could see a side rarely presented at the area's larger stages (such as the Tweeter Center or Alpine Valley) where Rusted Root's previously played. Depending on one's preference would determine the level of worth associated with Glabicki's individual concert outings and compositions, though this trip into previously unexplored territory was probably enough to tide over die-hards until rejoining his full time operation.