Rusted Root relies on audiences’ energy for ritualistic jams
For nearly a quarter of a century, Pittsburgh’s Rusted Root has recorded and performed its own brand of free-spirit, earthy jams for fans all around the world.
The group will make a stop at O.P. Rockwell on July 14, and founder, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Michael Glabicki is ready feel the energy of the Park City audience.
“I can go out on stage and bring whatever the day entails,” Glabicki said during a phone call from his home in Pennsylvania. “I’ve watched so many entertainers who push out well-thought ideas of what they want to express. And then there is us.”
Glabicki enjoys performing songs that feel right in the moment.
“I take in consideration the venue and the people to get an intuitive spark of what we should do — how to play a song or how to sing it,” he said. “I can be completely free and not care anymore because I know things will work out.”
That flow of energy has created some surprising moments throughout Glabicki’s career.
“Many times I’m totally surprised at how even an older song is played in a way that I’ve never heard before,” he said. “It’s kind of like a ritual with the band and the crowd. It’s super exciting. And that’s the pay off.”
Much has happened with the band since it’s debut “Cruel Sun” was released 24 years ago.
“There have been lifetimes upon lifetimes of crap to deal with, but that’s great because in a way we’re like Navy Seals who have been put to the test,” Glabicki said with a laugh. “We have been held underwater for long periods of time and survived. And we’ve also come back from the dead at times, too. So, we have been able to learn and grow and keep evolving.”
Those challenges, Glabicki said, have helped him learn a great deal about himself.
“To really be forced into areas that you’re not comfortable in, helps you learn to trust yourself,” he said. “There have been many struggles personally to maintain a home life and there are struggles with the industry and being on the road and trying to survive out there without running yourself ragged, but I always felt that once I got into this and saw the reaction of the audiences, I could do this forever.”
To do that, Glabicki discovered he has to be honest while writing songs.
“I think anytime I’m true to myself and the band is true to itself, we find this unique place called Rusted Root,” he said. “It’s about just putting my soul over the song and then working with people to create what feels right.”
That’s how the band recorded its seventh and most recent album “The Movement” in 2012.
“We were trying to have a good time and balance out what we had been doing the past 20 years,” Glabicki explained. “We wanted to set free everything we learned up to that point.”
The band learned some of those lessons while working and touring with some musical legends.
“I think working with [Carlos] Santana was a pretty amazing experience,” Glabicki said. “He was like a spiritual teacher of sorts and had studied us to know what we were capable of doing and he knew what we were capable of growing to.
At one point, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist took Glabicki and other members of Rusted Root aside and taught us some guitar and percussion.
“He also told me as a band leader that I should get angry and not be such a nice guy,” Glabicki said. “I understood a few days later what he meant, and that was enlightening.”
Other mentors include Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, whom Rusted Root toured with a few years ago.
“They showed us just how childlike they were in what they did,” Glabicki said. “It made me realize that I should relax and not take things too seriously.”
Glabicki puts that philosophy front center during the Rusted Root’s live shows.
“I think the greatest reward of all is now on stage when I just go with what feels right at the moment,” he said. “There are enough songs to choose from and we can pull out anything during any individual stop. And at any given time a song can change on stage and we can take it into a completely new direction.”
Rusted Root’s next step is a new album.
“I’m working on one now and just getting a bunch of new songs together and see how they pan out,” Glabicki said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too long before the new record comes out, but who knows? I just have to trust in the moment.”
Rusted Root will play O.P. Rockwell on Thursday, July 14. Doors open at 8 p.m. Ticket range from $30 to $48 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.oprockwell.com.