Band's roots still bound in sense of community

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Rusted Root will be in concert Thursday, June 19, at Park Street Saloon. Consider the Source opens. Tickets are $18. Visit saloon.woodlandsproductions.com.

The inspiration for one of the unique pop music voices to come from the '90s was fueled by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Michael Glabicki, founder of alternative/world-beat pop-rockers Rusted Root, told The Beat he would "lock myself in a room with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and write and write and write."

He soon graduated to potluck dinners, he said, only half-joking. Rusted Root became part of and fostered a sense of community in its hometown of Pittsburgh, and shows would often be accompanied by dinners. Many would serve as benefits for a cause.

"It's a blue-collar town and we always felt like we had that approach where we wanted to be part of the people, to have that relationship with the audience," Glabicki said.

After the band broke through with 1994's Send Me On My Way, from the album When I Woke, the community grew, but the notion of community was something the band worked hard to maintain.

"It's always been about the live show for us. Everything revolves around it -- recording, writing songs. To connect with the fans fuels everything," Glabicki said.

Glabicki credited the band's longevity to the concert experience; 2014 marks Rusted Root's 25th anniversary.

While its founder might not have foreseen a quarter-century, but he told The Beat he's hoping for another.

"I'm having the time of my life right now. We're more relaxed and more intuitive in the process than we've ever been. Early on it was all driven by anxiety and nervous energy. Now everything is more balanced, and I feel more complete in the music."

The title of the band's 2012 album, The Movement, is a nod to community, and the record bears evidence of this new, more-relaxed style of music-making.

"There's a lot wider dynamics, where we're not afraid to bring it way down to express something or draw attention to something. We've never done that before. And in general, we let things float in and out in their own way, whereas before the band would all have driven straight forward together."

"It makes the older music stand out and sound different than it used to," he added.

The Movement found the band dipping its toe in the fan-funding pool in another way, Glabicki said, that he hopes will foster a sense of community. Glabicki hopes to release a new record for the band's 25th anniversary (Rusted Root is already playing two or three new songs in its concerts this spring and summer) with the help of an Indiegogo effort.

By offering a variety of fan "experiences" to participants in the campaign, fan-funding becomes a two-way street, a "different way to connect," Glabicki said.

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