Now in its fourth year, the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival was looking for something a little bigger for this year. They found it in Rusted Root. The roots-rock jam band will headline this year’s festival.
“We wanted to expand our audience this year. A big part of this festival is to expose people to the wine and art we have here in Northern Michigan,” said Andy McFarlane, spokesperson for the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association and festival coordinator. “By bringing in a national act like Rusted Root and having a ticket price that includes two glasses of wine and four bands that is less in price than a typical Rusted Root show will help introduce our wines and artists to a whole new audience.”
McFarlane says they are very fortunate to get Rusted Root.
“These guys are in demand right now; their music keeps appearing in commercials, TV shows and movies. Plus, they have dedicated fans who follow them all over,” said McFarlane. “The band really likes wine and when they heard it was a wine festival they told their agent to make it happen, so we lucked out.”
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
The Traverse City Wine & Art Festival will take place at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons on Saturday, June 30 from 3-10 p.m. The festival will feature wines from 27 wineries on the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas as well as Benzie County and Traverse City. The festival will feature gourmet foods from area restaurants and original art from dozens of regional artists. In addition to Rusted Root, Orpheum Bell, The Naughty Neighbors and Laura Mann and The Fairly Odd Folk will perform.
Rusted Root rolled through Northern Michigan a few years ago and they are looking forward to returning.
“I was really sick that night and after the show someone brought me some wine from up there,” said Michael Glabicki, Rusted Root’s frontman. “A few weeks later I found it on the bus and was impressed so I am looking forward to getting back there. Plus they told me we are playing at an old mental hospital, sounds perfect for us.”
The Pittsburgh-based rockers, whose music is “rooted” in contrasting rhythms of African percussion, harmonizing vocals, instrumental jams and socially inspired lyrics, say the secret to their success is taking breaks from one another.
“We have been together since 1990 and we have always taken time to do other things. Sometimes it is longer than others and then we come back to the group,” said Liz Berlin, vocalist and founding member. “Our solo projects help us grow as individuals; they keep us grounded in who we are as musicians and allow for us to return to the band with fresh perspectives.”
Glabicki attributes the group’s longevity to the core belief that is gets down to the song.
“A song is an organism that grows over time and has different meanings to many different people,” said Glabicki. “My objective has always been to keep the songs at the forefront of the band.”
Glabicki’s philosophical and almost spiritual approach to his music began at the age of two when he was struck by a car and knocked unconscious. During that state an angelic being appeared to him.
“We sort of made this deal that she would remain with me and has been by my side ever since,” said Glabicki. “What I like about our band is that I might write a song and have a certain idea for it but then we start jamming and the group comes together they often come up with different ways to express the emotions of the song.”
Rusted Root has enjoyed commercial success selling millions of albums along with touring with the Grateful Dead and with Robert Plant/Jimmy Page. Their 1995 song, “Send Me On My Way,” has appeared in several motion picture soundtracks most notably “Ice Age.”
“We have had a great run and we have been very fortunate to have shared the stage with many artists who we admired while we were growing up,” said Glabicki. “There is a sense of sadness knowing we opened for the Grateful Dead for their last concert with Jerry Garcia (he passed away a few days later), but also we were fortunate to have had the experience.”
Despite having a huge following on the jam band circuit, Rusted Root has rejected the moniker as a way to define their music.
“Labeling is dangerous and limiting,” said Glabicki. “We are a band made up of individual musicians who come together collectively to create music, call it what you want but we are simply creating music that has a message.”
Hear a sampling of Rusted Root’s music at rustedroot.com. For details on the Traverse City Art & Wine Festival taking place this Saturday June 30 from 3 to 10 pm and to purchase advance tickets, go to traversecitywinefestival.com