Rusted Root's Michael Glabicki on Jamming, Healing, and Virginia Key Grassroots Festival
Glabicki started his band after dropping out of college in his first year and buying a 1972 Guild acoustic guitar at a secondhand store.
"I spent a lot of time being political in high school," he says. "And I went to Nicaragua in 1987 during the Contra war.
"It kinda blew me away what was goin' on in the world, and the blood on our hands as a country, and personally, the blood on my hands through ignorance. That's what inspired me to play music -- to bring a healing energy to the United States. In Nicaragua, music is on every street corner, and poetry too. I wanted to create that here."
So Glabicki began writing songs. He intended to create a band that harnessed music styles from around the world, especially the rhythms of Africa and Latin America.
"There's a lot of African drumming in Pittsburgh. Not so much in the city, but around the university area," he explains. "I just immediately responded to it and fell in love with it and wanted to live in it.
"For the band, it was a prerequisite that the members should know African drumming and Latin rhythms. It was like a meditation that came up through the ground where I was. I didn't really go out and look for it. I kinda just felt it and needed that feeling to write the songs. And I put people around me who could create that energy."
Now, having made a career out of that sound by colonizing and Anglicizing it for his audience, does Glabicki consider it a form of musical imperialism?
"I don't know. I've never thought of it like that. I just think energetically we're all one.
"I kind of view the Earth with this grid on it. And if something comes to you, it's meant to come to you, and you're supposed to use it, and it's supposed to be shared. That's how it comes to me or how I use it.
"I see it. And when I feel it, it feels like it's undeniably my self. So I don't ever go and intellectually look for things that already exist. I feel like the energy is already in the Earth and it comes up through my feet."
Virginia Key Grassroots Festival 2013. Thursday, February 21, to Sunday, February 24. Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Dr., Key Biscayne. Four-day festival passes cost $90 and up via grassrootsstore.org. Call 786-409-5261 or visit virginiakeygrassroots.com.
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