Bringing in bigger names

July 22, 2007|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Music fans, meet Michael Glabicki, a singer-songwriter and guitarist.

You might know him as the frontman for the Pittsburgh rock band Rusted Root.

But Glabicki wants to be known for more than being a frontman. He's working on a solo project and plans to put out an album sans Rusted Root.

As part of his solo venture, Glabicki will perform Thursday night at Stonewalls Underground Pub in Shepherdstown.

The acoustic rock concert is the second installment of a bimonthly series aiming to bring larger, regional names to the area. Tickets to the show are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door.

"There's a lot of acoustic artists around here," promoter Bob Keel said. The concerts are not on "a Friday, when you expect to hear blow-out, rock-out (music). It's more like let's get together, hear some good music, have a beer and have a good time."


Though Glabicki is working on a solo album, doing solo tours and pushing a new solo image (under the name Michael Ki), he has no plans to quit Rusted Root.

"I don't really have a reason to do that," Glabicki said during a phone interview while touring with Rusted Root. "The history of the band and the musical history of the band was a unique tapestry, and it continues to evolve. So it's always fun to come back to, to play the old tunes and take it new places."

(FYI: Glabicki said "Michael Ki" is more of a concept than it is an actual moniker. "Everybody knows me as Michael from Rusted Root. Most never attempt to say my last name," Glabicki said. "I feel a bit lighter, carrying less baggage getting rid of those few letters.")

Glabicki finds his own voice with Root

At Stonewalls, Glabicki's 60- to 90-minute set will be half Rusted Root stuff and half his new stuff.

"It's not like a sit-down singer-songwriter show, though there's elements of that. But there's lots of percussion. It gets pretty big and intense," said Glabicki, who said his influences came from "guitar heroes" Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and Rolling Stone's Keith Richards.

While Glabicki said he hopes to see success as a solo act, he said his loyalties are still with Rusted Root - quitting isn't an option.

"It's a landscape I understand as a songwriter, so it's pretty easy for me to write songs for (Rusted Root)."

Rusted Root is a six-member rock band with three core members: Glabicki, Liz Berlin and Patrick Norman. The jam band can produce a produce a sound with reggae and tribal touches.

The group gained fame in the '90s, when their self-released album "Cruel Sun" attracted Mercury Records, which signed the band, and led to the release of "When I Woke" in 1994. The album produced the hit "Send Me on My Way," and other albums followed in 1996 and 1998.

The band didn't break up after that, but members did pursue solo ventures, Glabicki said.

"It felt like it was time for that," he said. "The band was stuck in a rut."

Root hoping for a comeback

Now, the band (though unsigned) is staging a comeback, touring and writing new songs - some of which they perform on tour - as they prepare to record another studio album, Glabicki said.

"I think we've got a new sound developing, and the sounds bring back past elements, but it's really refined at this point," he said.

Glabicki's approach to writing songs has changed, too.

"It's more about expressing my inner thoughts, and that's translating into a good Rusted Root show," he said.

"In the past, it was more about communicating thoughts collectively."

He's not worried about whether the new stuff will alienate long-time Rusted Root fans.

"I think our true fans would follow us," Glabicki said. "It won't be so much going from A to F as opposed to going from A to B - people will understand it."

Why here? Why now?

Though local acts have always been a mainstay on Friday nights, Stonewalls Underground Pub owner Daniel Kirkland said this is the first year the venue decided to book larger, regional names.

"People get the opportunity to see them without driving to D.C. or Baltimore," Kirkland said.

Jimi Haha, the lead singer from Jimmie's Chicken Shack, performed there in May. Keel said about 70 people came to Haha's set. The stage area can accommodate 120 people.

"Each show is based on how the previous show did," Keel said. "After seeing how well that show went, we decided to book another artist."

Keel's own four-man band, Emmitt Kellar, and acoustic guitarist Blake Owen will open for Glabicki.

"A little bit of name association can't hurt," Keel said of opening for Glabicki.

If you go ...

WHAT: Rusted Root's Michael Glabicki performs live

WHEN: 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26. Opening acts begin at 8:30

WHERE: Stonewalls Underground Pub, 126 E. German St., Shepherdstown, W.Va.

COST: $12 in advance, plus $2.97 online fee, available at Tickets at the door cost $15.

MORE: For more information, contact the pub by calling 304-876-2720.

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