Not your typical American progressive rockers, Rusted Root brings ethnic flavor to the “jam band” canon. Ironically hailing from the white bread town of Pittsburgh, Pa., the band can be described as anything but Western — musical contemporaries Virginia Coalition, Phish and Widespread Panic seem culturally unaware in comparison. Lead vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Michael Glabicki even established a prerequisite for joining the band: proficiency in the techniques of African drumming. Not surprisingly, such intense musical immersion produces fruitful results, culminating in a sound experience both polyrhythmic and percussion-centric. An amalgamation of influences, including Latin American, African, Middle Eastern and Native American, Rusted Root’s multicultural funk attracts “Rootheads” from far and wide.
Formed in 1990, Glabicki and crew broke into the national scene a mere four years later with their platinum-selling Polygram release of When I Woke (featuring the movie soundtrack hit “Send Me on My Way”). Rusted Root was scheduled to perform at CU’s own Canopy Club this Tuesday, Nov. 11, but the show was canceled.
You may not be able to see Rusted Root this go around, but when you do, you should know what to expect. Glabicki’s grounded, masculine vocals fuse well with female vocalist/guitarist/percussionist Liz Berlin’s spooky, ethereal voice, providing the “yin” for Glabicki’s “yang.” Multi-instrumentalist to a T, expect the band to utilize a plethora of specialized instruments onstage, from African bongos to Spanish mandolins. Indigenous-sounding and authentic, Rusted Root will cause even the tamest audience member to stomp his or her feet in time with the tribal groove.
Here are some songs to check out to introduce yourself to Rusted Root:
1. “Send Me on My Way” (When I Woke). When the mid-90s film Matilda became a box-office hit, the popularity of “Send Me on My Way” followed suit. Featured on the film’s soundtrack, Hollywood soon caught on to the magic of this upbeat crowd pleaser, including the piece in multiple movies to come.
2. “Martyr” (When I Woke). Multilayered and highly energetic, this maraca-shaking Latin beat stands out from the rest of When I Woke as most musically compelling and lyrically satiating.
3. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (Rusted Root). A Rolling Stones cover turned “jam” piece, Rusted Root successfully infuses Marley-like groove into this traditional rock-and-roll favorite.

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