Rusted Root: A Joyful, Melodic Groove

Event: Rusted Root with Devon Allman
Venue: Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Date/Time: Oct. 22, Gates at 7pm, Concert at 8pm
Tickets: $32 advance, $36 day of show

Rusted Root has always marched to the beat of its own drum. Breaking down the African and Latin percussive rhythms in the band’s joyful, melodic grooves is like trying to decipher the origin of the spices in a complicated dish. It doesn’t matter where it comes from when it all sounds so good. EU Jacksonville Rusted Root spoke with founder, singer, and guitarist Michael Glabicki about harnessing creativity, his definition of success, and the shared experience of playing live. Rusted Root performs with Devon Allman Oct. 22 at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall (

“Our live shows can be very ritualistic and communal. I receive love from the audience and giving my love to the audience,” says Glabicki. “It’s also a collective creativity going on to where we’re all sort of healing each other, and I think that’s what I’m going for. That’s sort of my feeling about what level of success I’ve hit.” The summer tour schedule is representative of its global essence. The band kicked it off in Japan and Guam before returning stateside for month-long runs on the west coast and east coast. Glabicki is enjoying the brief respite of home before hitting the road for a new bank of dates in support of the latest release The Movement.

It can be difficult to silence the machine, but Glabicki is making a conscious effort to relax and be present.  “We were able to relax and have a good time and just do the things that we are good at. I think the energy of it really comes across. For us, the record really presented the best of the band and the best of what we’ve learned over the last 25 years. As far as critical reception, I think it’s been one of our best ever. Now we’re working on new stuff and just really trying to forget everything that’s happened in the last 25 years and come up with something new.”

Glabicki is all discovering new portals to receive artistic energy. Rusted Root is developing new material to test out during the band’s fall run. Glabicki is also creating outside the box by producing new material for other artists. The experience has allowed him to shed his own process and nurture the elements that allow his strengths to shine through someone else’s art.

“Music helps to heal me so when I’m stuck or feeling a certain way, I go and make music and I can find my way through those dark times.”

As a songwriter, Glabicki says he usually discovers a new song within the framework of a melody by working it out on guitar. Producing has given him permission to structure a groove using just keyboard or vocals, whatever bubbles up, and the results are liberating. “This way of doing things is completely new to me, but I’m having a lot of fun,” he says. “A lot of it is the connection and the chemistry between people. What it really does for me is it makes me get completely out of my own way of thinking. I have to be sort of unafraid to take different paths as far as developing music. I just have to let go of all my preconceptions and sort of create the process as much as you create the music.”

The Movement is not unlike the Rusted Root catalog with respect to the joyful elements sounding off in every note. It’s an unconscious response to the negativity happening in the world. For Glabicki, the best way to answer to the darkness is with light. “I’ve always been sort of politically-minded and involved since my teens. I think that has always interested me and sort of been a guidepost for living. I have my own personal issues too, and my own fears and insecurities. If you study those enough, I think you can see how they fit into the whole political scheme. I kind of have a joint approach to those two things,” he says. “Music helps to heal me so when I’m stuck or feeling a certain way, I go and make music and I can find my way through those dark times. In the same way, I tend to try and approach from a more communal space with my writing so I’m not just writing about myself and my own experience. I’m trying to tap into the collective experience and collective consciousness so I think that connects to other people in a very different way.”

Rusted Root first took shape over two decades ago, finding its groove alongside such contemporaries as the Dave Matthew Band and Blues Traveler on the ‘90s jam band circuits. The group’s independently released first album, Cruel Sun inspired a devoted college following in the Northeast. Rusted Root responded to that collegiate enthusiasm with non-stop touring and a label debut, When I Woke which spawned the hit single, ‘Send Me on My Way’. The single landed at number 72 on the Billboard Top 100 chart and is linked in perpetuity to films such as Ice Age and Matilda, and even a commercial spot for Enterprise car rental.

Through the years, Rusted Root avoided being swept up by the trends and labels and continued to manipulate the box that often cages some artists. Glabicki says he danced near the box, tempted to scale the mountain and reach the pop summit but in the end, managed to preserve a sense of authenticity because he discovered he wasn’t that interested in the climb after all. “I think the truth is that I tried maybe to fit in at different points to make a pop hit or make this genre of music. We were close enough to it at certain points but I think just the thought of that, the generic approach to that doesn’t really work for me,” he says. “I just really need to stick true to whatever is coming through to me in the moment. I’m probably very terrible at trying to make music. I don’t really make it in that way. I try to let it come through as a meditational process. In that, you just have to accept whatever it is that comes through you.”

Catch Rusted Root with Devon Allman Oct. 22 at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, and for more information, check out

About Liza Mitchell