Rusted Root

Rusted Root

Rusted Root

The quintessential live band, Pittsburgh’s Rusted Root celebrates their 20th anniversary this year.

Formed in the early 90’s by singer/guitarist Michael Glabicki, Rusted Root’s worldly style quickly charmed fans of roots music and world rock. To date they have released 7 albums and sold over 3 million records worldwide. After debuting in 1992 with the self released Cruel Sun, Rusted Root signed with Mercury Records and released the 1994 platinum selling breakthrough When I Woke, which featured the massive hits Send Me On My Way, Ecstasy and Martyr. Their huge success allowed the band to tours with Santana, The Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, The Allman Brothers Band, HORDE Festival and, perhaps most notably, the highly coveted support role on the landmark Jimmy Page/Robert Plant reunion tour. In 1996, the hard-touring Rusted Root returned with Remember, which was followed by 1998’s Rusted Root. In 2002 the band reemerged with Welcome To My Party. In 2004, the band released a double live album aptly entitled Rusted Root Live; This double set was the second release Rusted Root’s Touchy Pegg label, following the re-release of the newly remastered Cruel Sun in 2003.

Along the way, Rusted Root has also issued three EPs (Evil Ways, Live, and Airplane), a home video (Rusted Root Live) and had songs placed in film and TV soundtrack tracks such as Twister, Mathilda, Home For the Holidays, Party of Five, Charmed, Homicide & ice age. What was indubitably a first

for Rusted Root was that NASA engineers chose Send Me On My Way as “wake-up” music for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, for Sol 21. Send Me On My Way was most recently used in a set of Enterprise Rental Car commercials in 2011 & 2012.

In May 2009, Rusted Root released Stereo Rodeo, their first studio album in 7 years. Of Stereo Rodeo, band founder & leader Michael Glabicki says ;”We named our record Stereo Rodeo after a song that I started writing back when we were recording our last studio record. It’s really just a great name,” “We were all just so into the music,” says vocalist/percussionist Liz Berlin about the recording process, “the synergy and excitement on this album is so fresh and energizing.” “It is one of the most powerful albums we have ever recorded,” agrees bassist/vocalist Patrick Norman.

The band is currently in the studio recording their new album, tentatively titled Fortunate Freaks, after a song on the upcoming release. Due out for a summer 2012 release, the disc will mark the groups 20th anniversary year. “Our last record was to let people know that we were back and were making music again,” Glabicki said. “With this new one, we’re not only back, we’re back to our old selves. [the new album] is very danceable and energetic,” he said. “It’s happier than the last record but, more than anything, we returned to our rock roots. I think it’s something fans will be happy with. We have a few more songs to go, and we’re really hoping this will be out in the summer.”

To help support the making of this new album, Rusted Root created the “Fortunate Freaks Unite! We are Rusted Root Campaign.” This fan-funding campaign provided the fans the opportunity to contribute to the making of the album, while receiving some once in a lifetime opportunities. “Rusted Root is a state of mind shared and explored by many people- we are a community that supports one another. The fans are as much a part of this as anyone. It is an interesting time in history and fan funding is a great way to point out the obvious; we are a band that relies on the energy of our fans.”

As to what you’ll hear at an upcoming Rusted Root show, “We’ve been working on a new album, so our set is a really cool mix of old classic Rusted Root and the new songs,” Liz Berlin says. “It’s been fun to play them. A lot of the development of (the new album) has happened on stage; what fans have been into has helped with the direction of the songs.”

Rusted Root will be touring relentlessly throughout 2012, playing their new music as well as some of the faithful fans favorites.

KG Omulo

KG Omulo

KG Omulo’s dance-floor positivity has deep roots. His family was very pious, yet savored lively political discussions. His mother had conservative religious views, but still shared the Motown hits, East and West African classics of her youth with her son. KG learned that the spirit could shape the world—and could do so through powerful music.

This faith and pop savvy combo led to his first musical coup: As a teenager, KG and two close friends from his rural Kenyan high school sang gospel a cappella for stadium crowds. “We were a barber shop-style trio, doing something between doo wop and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, because we didn’t have any instruments at our school,” KG recalls. “We recorded a simple tape and before we knew it, we were traveling to Nairobi and singing for 35,000 people a show. We never thought it would get so serious.”

But when KG’s parents moved to Rhode Island, KG had to follow. “I had to start from scratch,” he says.

The challenge opened new musical vistas for KG, who wanted to reach a whole new set of ears. His education took him to Florida, far from any Kenyan ?migr? community and even farther from his roots. He knew he needed a live band. He knew he wanted to move people—move them to toss aside apathy, fight for their rights, and work together for justice. He began to think funky.

“I needed to find common ground, a cross-over point,” KG reflects. “I’m one of those people who can adapt to the immediate surroundings. I could have stuck to what I was doing so well back in Kenya, but that didn’t make sense in Florida.”

What made sense was a rock-infused, reggae-powered take on Afrobeat and Afropop that doesn’t linger in long instrumentals, but goes straight to the irresistible hook. Fueling all the carefully crafted tracks, KG’s longing for a different, more just world gives his good-time music a compelling depth of meaning.

It’s not just about making it—as an immigrant, as a musician—but about making it matter. KG uses the groove to rile up and wake up, to praise the often unsung efforts of the world’s women (“Quality Women”) see video: or to point out the political roots of economic hard times (“Intervention”).

On stage and in the studio, KG runs the show. He writes all the music, brainstorms lyrics in English and Swahili, and even uses visual editing skills gleaned from post-production film work to perfect tracks in the studio.

But he knows when to bring in friends to the mix, and KG’s Florida-grown backing band has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to T-Pain. “Cleary Boulevard,” an uptempo shout-out to the vibrant South Florida scene, features recording engineer, producer, and close friend Ramsees Mechan bantering in Spanish as KG waxes poetic in Swahili. “Ready to Love” features guitarist and MC Fareed Salamah (“Ripstah”), originally from the Virgin Islands, who lays down lush, purring guitar on the reggae-styled anthem to an open heart…