The beat. The passion. The voices. The way all of those significant pleasures blended into quite memorable songs.
After the set, I picked my jaw back up from the ground and went wandering backstage in search of more information about this tribal outfit. It wasn’t hard to mix and mingle at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds at that early edition of the aptly-named Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival of Music and Dance. I found the musicians. When I told them I wrote about music for the Syracuse daily newspaper, they handed me a tape. Yup, a cassette, of their 1992 independent debut, “Cruel Sun.”
I popped it into my car deck on the way home and fell in love all over again.
Many of those spirited forays into rock, roots and world beats also would make it onto Rusted Root’s 1994 major-label debut, “When I Woke.”
Oh, front man Michael Glabicki and talented mates such as Liz Berlin and Patrick Norman would go on to write more songs and put out another five studio albums — including 2012’s “The Movement” — but really, the invigorating songs from “Cruel Sun” and “When I Woke” would prove to be impossible to top in my mind.
Fortunately, “Ecstasy,” “Cat Turned Blue,” “Beautiful People,” Martyr,” “Back to the Earth” and, of course, the one Rusted Root song that might even be considered mainstream, “Send Me on My Way,” have stood the test of time on the band’s playlist, too. (Even if you don’t know Rusted Root, you’ll very likely recognize “Send Me On My Way” as the music behind an Enterprise Car Rental campaign. Check out a YouTube video of a live version of the song here.)
Since that summer’s day Rusted Root came from Pittsburgh to play the cool fest put together by Jeb Puryear and his mates in our very own roots band Donna the Buffalo, Glabicki and Rusted Root remain a frequent visitor to Central New York. Glabicki has branched off into a solo career. A handful of musicians have gone and come into Rusted Root. But that big beat, mesmerizing rhythms and interesting instrumentation remains.
Rusted Root will headline the premiere edition of Long Ranch Jam, June 23 at Long Branch Park in Liverpool, with Ithaca-and-Boston favorite John Brown’s Body and a trio of top Central New York bands. Put on by Mark Gummer of National Audio and partners, the event will revisit the natural grass amphitheater used in past decades for shows by Santana, Joe Cocker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Little Feat, Roy Buchanan and more. The slogan promises “a whole day of good music, high spirits and the great outdoors.”
The Shakedown will start the action at 1:30 p.m., followed by Master Thieves at 3 and Los Blancos at 4:30. John Brown’s Body starts at 6:30, and Rusted Root’s finale kicks off at 8:30.
The table will be set quite well by the trio of Syracuse bands.
All deserve this chance to show what they’ve got on a big stage with major sound equipment. When I was producing the Music Notes Performance video series for the daily in town, Shakedown, Master Thieves and Los Blancos all were riveting in a stripped-down setting. They were outstanding stripping their songs to the soul; they should be just as amazing on the opposite side of the equation.
Tickets are $22 in advance, available at longbranchjam.com. The price will be $30 at the gate.