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Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, and longtime collaborator Dirk Miller, will perform in Youngstown later this summer. They are part of the new Stone Jug Concert Series. (Photo by Cara Freidham)
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, and longtime collaborator Dirk Miller, will perform in Youngstown later this summer. They are part of the new Stone Jug Concert Series. (Photo by Cara Freidham)

Q&A: Michael Glabicki working on new music ahead of Youngstown concert

by jmaloni
Fri, May 31st 2024 10:45 am

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

Five years ago, when speaking with this writer, former Rusted Root lead singer Michael Glabicki said that, career-wise, he was the happiest he had been in 30 years.

And then there was a pandemic. … A mandated break in touring. … A public viewing shift to online – social media and video – in particular, which gave rise to infinitely more musicians seeking fame than the industry – or society – can accommodate; and the reality that, unless your name is Taylor Swift, Beyonce or Billie Eilish, your album-sale prospects are a giant shrug.

So, how does Glabicki feel now?

Even better.

The singer, whose credits include “Send Me on My Way” and “Ecstasy,” explained more in this edited Q&A.

Glabicki will headline the third and final show in the new Stone Jug Concert Series, taking the stage Friday, Aug. 16. Tickets are available at The Ontario House (The Jug), 358 Main St., Youngstown; and online here.

Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root, and longtime collaborator Dirk Miller, will perform in Youngstown later this summer. They are part of the new Stone Jug Concert Series. (Photo by Cara Freidham)


Q: We've had the good fortune of having you play in this area with some regularity over the years. Is there something about the Niagara Falls area, the Buffalo market, about these fans in particular, that makes us a good destination for you to come and play?

Michael Glabicki: Definitely. I'm not sure I can describe it properly, but it's a grounded musical vibe there. I don't know what it is about it, but it feels like people grew up on music there; and it's a more intelligent, mature kind of connection being made to the music. So, when I play, I feel like I have more comfort in that. I mean, I'm not trying to corral anybody into the music. It's just sort of there from the start.

Q: The last time we chatted was 2019. You were telling me about Uprooted and where you were in your life and with your music. And this is a quote, you said, “I’m just slowly realizing that, you know, there’s a lot of letting go of the past 30 years and all of that. But, you know, it’s a magical time right now. And I don’t think I felt that way, all the way back – 1990 would’ve been the last time I felt that way.”

Your industry is a very complex, crazy, difficult industry, and this was pre-pandemic. We know your industry has changed like 25 times over the past four or five years. I'm wondering if you still feel that love for where you're at musically, the people you're playing with, and the songs that you're putting out there, as you did in 2019.

Michael Glabicki: Absolutely, yeah. If anything, it feels like there's more of a purpose to it. I've never been one concerned about numbers of people. You know, as far as like what the record company and what everybody else was sort of concerned with. I was always more concerned with the depth of the connection being made, and what value that had in society. And that could be playing small rooms; I would be just as happy playing small rooms as I would be playing stadiums.

Sometimes I feel a little happier in the smaller venues, just because you can really get like an intimate sense of the connections being made. So, sometimes I get more of a healing process in that.

But right now, I just feel like, because it's so up in the air. Because the industry is so up in the air, I really feel focused on the more important things of the music and what's being conveyed in the music; and the raw energy that exists on the recordings; and what that feels like; and bringing people in the studio at this point and just making sure that, what I think is valuable and magical, is being felt that way – and it is – and it's really kind of fun to get that feedback right now.

Q: Are you in the process of writing, recording and releasing new music?

Michael Glabicki: Yeah; we're pretty much done with about three quarters of the new record. And, like I said, I'm bringing people in to finally hear some of the cuts, even my managers and stuff haven't heard anything yet. Just friends and artists and other musicians; bringing those people in, because nowadays you can be pretty isolated in the recording process by way of computers and stuff. So, just bringing in people now to hear the music; having them comment on what they're feeling, what they're getting out of it.

Sometimes, it sort of clears up things that I'm feeling about the music, if I bring in 10 people and all of them are saying the same thing that I was feeling. Then I kind of go, “Yeah, OK, You can check that off the list.”

Or if there's things that I had questions about, like say the dynamics at the end of a song or something, if some people are kind of going like, “No, it's not doing what you want it to do,” and it's something that I've been thinking, then I know to move in that direction.

But other than that, I'm sort of just touching up the recordings right now, and fine-tuning the tracks.



Q: In this market, we are lucky because we get a lot of great musicians; we get a lot of great tours; we get a lot of great solo and duo shows. I'm fortunate because I get to talk to a lot of the artists that are coming and sharing their talents with us.

In talking about making new music these days, everybody's philosophy is different. Some people think that, unless your name is Taylor Swift, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to release new music these days because it’s so challenging to get music out there.

But for you, because you're in a spot where, like you said, you're not focused on the numbers, you're focused more on the connection with the audience. Is that why it remains important to you to continue writing and recording and releasing new music?

Michael Glabicki: Yeah, I think so. I think there was something in me that needed completion, as far as an artist, and I really wanted to make an album that completely made sense to me and that I felt was up to par.

I don't want to pi$$ anybody off (laughs), but even when I look back in the day, I felt like there was some things compromised in the process, because of rushing or not having the ability to take some certain chances at that point, or certain maturity.

Right now, I feel like I have not only the talent and the technical abilities, I feel like my voice has grown a lot. I feel like my production skills have grown a lot. I feel like my band has grown a lot. And bringing in people to fill the vision that I have has gotten better.

So, all that considered, I feel like I just want to make a record that I feel is complete, and is really my tunnel vision, and nothing's compromised. That's sort of like my first reason for doing the album. It's just that I've always wanted to do that, and I felt like I hadn't yet.

Now, as far as what that all means, and what that means in the industry, I don't really know. But I know when people hear this album, whoever it is, whether they're fans or not, they're going to at least hear it and go, “Wow, this is pretty amazing stuff.” Whether they fully want to take it on and take it in their lives, I don't know; but at least they'll hear it and go, like, “Wow. This is powerful.”



Q: You are doing full band and duo shows these days. When you come here, it's going to be a duo show. What can you tell me about that, and what fans can expect?

Michael Glabicki: Duo shows are pretty magical. I play kick drum and acoustic guitar and sing. Dirk Miller plays electric guitar mostly. He uses a lot of effects and kind of paints these wider pictures with his guitar. But rhythmically, because I start it off on drum kit, I can kind of play grooves with my right strumming hand on the guitar, and my right foot on the kick drum. I can get these grooves that you really couldn't get with a drummer and a guitarist playing separately. There's like super-fine, delicate, subtle things I can do that are very effective in people watching the show.

I'm also able to like slow down the tempos, kind of swirl things a little bit in ways that you just really couldn't do unless you were like completely psychic with your drummer. So, there's that going on (laughs).

And then we're able to approach the vocals differently. The dynamics of bringing it down to a pin drop, and then being very explosive with the guitars and the vocals and the drum.

It's pretty magical and, as far as being synced up with an audience, the duo has the ability to do that, I think, a little bit more intensely.

Q: There was a particular word that you just mentioned that I was going to ask you about. The last time we chatted, you called Dirk your “psychic" sidekick. Apparently, that connection is still there.

Michael Glabicki: Yeah, even more so. I think, for a while, we were doing it. We were latching on to this psychic thing for moments in the show. And now, I just think I don't have to really think about it at all. Or it doesn't seem to be going away during the show. Or like where you drop off and you have to pick it back up. That doesn't seem to be happening anymore.


See also >> New Youngstown concert series bringing national acts to intimate setting

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