“I am a baby again,” Rusted Root’s Michael Glabicki (vocals, guitar) mentions in an interview with encore. He is speaking of his latest project, Uprooted.
“I am trying to forget everything to just be the music, produce recordings and create songs that will deliver messages back to me—road maps of sorts,” he says.
More than 25 years ago Rusted Root gave the world “Send Me on My Way,” released on both “Cruel Sun” (1992) and “When I Woke” (1994). It solidified their place in pop culture’s soundtrack. Their contributions to world-beat and fusion soundscapes span an almost three-decades’ long catalogue. Glabicki continues to evolve them all dynamically, emotionally, thematically and energetically since hitting the road with Uprooted.
“The art aspect of [each song] is much sharper,” he offers. “I am incredibly proud of where we have gotten. . . . I feel my years with Rusted Root have brought me to this moment. I have learned what I am and what I am not. There is no need to fight anymore. I can just let it be what it is. The music is much bigger and more powerful that way.”
Established while Rusted Root remains on hiatus, Uprooted features fellow Rusted Root original player Dirk Miller (electric guitar), drummer Zil Fessler, bassist Bobby Schneck, and songstress Daisie Ghosts Flower on back-up vocals. Glabicki now approaches popular Rusted Root tunes with a new band, new mindset and even new perspective.
“The Rusted Root material is brought into the present,” Glabicki clarifies. “I am able to find a new vision for those songs every night we play. There’s a new level of trust and fearlessness in myself and in this group of musicians that allows us to explore new landscapes. It is pure magic.”
Uprooted will head into the studio within the next few months to start releasing a series of singles. In the meantime, it will just be Glabicki and Miller performing an intimate set at The Reel Cafe come Saturday.
While we can expect fan favorites at their show, Glabicki’s been road-testing other songs as well. A new love song, “Heartache,” has proven to be a slam dunk on stage so far but Glabicki continues to play around with his approach.
“The problem right now is there are too many options working,” he quips. “‘Man Not Machine’ is a funky tune, but we are experimenting with how jammy we want it to be. That one is written more about the whole live connection with the audience beyond the superficial entertainment aspect.”
Like he’s often done throughout his tenure, Glabicki’s voice is almost another instrument entirely. Just as he has used a light, fluttering howl here and there (“Send Me on My Way”), he drastically drops it low to almost a growl in “Man Not a Machine”—“you’re gonna know what I mean.” He plays his cord’s effortlessly to help marry the lyrics with instruments and nuances.
“There is emotional meaning and spiritual depth to lyrics, tone, cadence, rhythm and melody of the voice,” he observes. “I am interested in every combination of these facets of the vocal. Because I sing the songs I write, I am able to refine my music and voice to a unique level that is unheard of.”
It’s songs like “Martyr” which showcase the cohesiveness of Glabicki and Miller’s dueling guitar playing. While it is an almost psychic/spiritual connection between them since Rusted Root days, the connection between the band and the audience itself is what’s most palpable for Glabicki.
“[The connection with the audience] takes advantage of the real truth of the moment and creates healing,” he muses. “Honestly, as the moment changes, so does the music.”