Rusted Root

More than the company they keep

Rusted Root: Getting out of a jam.
Rusted Root: Getting out of a jam.

Rusted Root is the type of band you take shit for liking from people who've never seen them — simply because of the associations. Though they do frequently appear at jam-band festivals, there's a lot more nuance, synthesis, and creativity here than you'll find in your standard, 12-bar blues wankers. Middle Eastern tones, African drums, and Latin rhythms are just a few of the flavors in their folk-inflected gumbo — another way this funky, polyrhythmic party rumble separates itself from typical hippie noodlers. The Pittsburgh sextet began in 1990, and shot to prominence in '94 with their ubiquitous single, "Send Me on My Way," off their major label debut, When I Woke. As capable of hooky pop as world-beat breakdowns, they've struggled at times with how to define themselves on record. And they drew the consternation of longtime fans for the Dave Matthews vibe of their last studio album, 2002's Welcome to My Party. They finally released a live album in 2005 (titled Live, natch), and it does a better job of capturing their performance magic than any of the studio releases. With many members consumed with their own projects, shrinking tour itineraries, and new material now a distant memory, there's reason to wonder if a hiatus is in the offing.

 
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