Twenty years ago, as bands like the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, and Santana were gracefully becoming veteran acts, a major hippie-rock/jam band resurgence occurred. A new pack of hungry, organic rockers started blowing up, and the early and mid ’90’s exploded with the likes of Blues Traveler, the Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Widespread Panic, and the String Cheese Incident. One band that had its own sound and stood out from the rest with a more tribal, percussive, and acoustic-based approach, was Pittsburgh’s Rusted Root.
Rusted Root (from left)—Jim Donovan, Jenn Wertz, Michael Glabicki, Patrick Norman, John Buynak, Liz Berlin, and Jim DiSpirito.
Front man and guitarist, Michael Glabicki, is the cornerstone of that unique sound. If you don’t remember Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way,” you were living under a rock. Or maybe you didn’t have kids when the song showed up in the family movies Ice Age and Matilda, making the tune huge all over again. This cat can straight-up rip apart an acoustic, rock out with electric, burn a smoldering lead, and hold down the fort with a hypnotic, pulsing rhythm. Here are Glabicki’s top five guitarists…
“He had that real wild rhythm,” says Glabicki. “I don’t know how he got that sound, or how he played that real tight rhythm. I had never heard anything like it. His approach definitely inspired me to do what I do.”
“My cousin turned me on to him. I didn’t understand the spiritual sense of Carlos’ playing at first, but I could feel the vibe of it. He puts his spirit into the music and communicates on a different level—not just emotionally, but on other realms entirely. His percussive approach, the way he grouped his phrases, and how he got nasty in the middle of his solos really gave me a sense that he created not just notes, but shapes and colors.”
“Page composed his feelings in such a way that it was a weirder vibe than other players had, and that influenced me very much. He ended up in a more mysterious and darker realm than other 1970s-era guitarists.”
“Michael was just crazy! I saw him live a couple of times, and he blew my mind. He was so free. His music was virtually concave—like a basket—and you could almost live inside of it. He was just so unique—he was his own orchestra. He inspired me to slowly piece together music, ideas, and riffs, one gem at a time.”
“About ten years ago, I really got into Neil’s way of doing things—his art of just destroying what exists and recreating it. I can really relate to that with what I do in Rusted Root.”