Rusted Root delivers tight two-hour show at Mahaiwe

GREAT BARRINGTON — There is a tendency among rock and pop snobbery (yes, that is a thing) to dismiss so-called jam bands as largely sloppy and self-indulgent. It's hard to say where that came from, but an evening with Pittsburgh-based Rusted Root would probably blow that notion out of the water.

Mike Glabicki and his band of crack musicians submitted a 14-song, 120-minute show before about 600 fans at the Mahaiwe on Monday night and if one comes away with anything, it's that Rusted Root is one of the tighter bands in rock.

The band opened with Glabicki, percussionist Liz Berlin and bassist Patrick Norman harmonizing on a charming, haunting "Beautiful People" off 1994's platinum album, "When I Woke." It was a strong opener and segued very well into the uptempo "Martyr," from the band's 1991 debut album, "Cruel Sun."

"Martyr" showcases Glabicki's remarkable finger-picking, which rivals fellow guitar icons like Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins. The one minor complaint on Monday was that the first few songs suffered from a somewhat muddy mix, which was fixed by the time of "Monkey Pants," the fourth number.

After the opener, Rusted Root kept the tempo upbeat. A highlight of the set was an extended jam on "When The Cat Turned Blue," featuring a Bo Diddley-esque opening drum riff by Zil Fessler, which segued into Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," which segued into "Cat," which segued into Jimi Hendrix' "All Along The Watchtower." Hey, ya gotta keep up!

Later in the set, the band served up a delicious version of "Voodoo," with Berlin on the recorder and that tantalizing hint of the band's Eastern musical influences, That bounced into a striking "Rebel, Rebel," with the opening riff

performed by guitarist Dirk Miller, one of the best No. 2 guitarists in the business.

Glabicki and Miller traded solos and intros throughout the night, while the rhythm section of Berlin, Norman and Fessler held the beat. Berlin must have played 8-10 different percussion instruments, including the not-often-seen metal washboard.

The encore featured a solo Glabicki performing "Scattered", to be joined by the band for the mega-hit, "Send Me On My Way," which turned into a sing along. At that point, Glabicki looked offstage, pointing to his watch and nodded.

"We have time for one more," he said. And the crowd got to hear a beautiful "Back to the Earth."

Contact staff reporter Derek Gentile at 413-629-4621.


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