|DEXTER ROMWEBER DUO
Dexter Romweber Duo @ Sadlack's, Raleigh, NC February 5, 2005
Sadlack's Heroes or the bar at the end of the universe as it is sometimes called, is that place you can always depend on. For thirty,
maybe forty years it has been a Mecca for area musicians, artistes and food lovers alike, on both sides of the counter. Still is. Order up a
Doctor Frank's or a Corned beef Reuben and wash it all down with a cold beer, while soaking up some of the most innovative and eclectic
sounds on the planet, it's hard to beat. The beer is cheap, the music and atmosphere are free for the taking but please be a sport and
throw a bone or two in the tip jar, musicians have to eat too, you know? Bring the dog, bring the kids, chow down and rock your ass off all
before 9:30 in the evening. It's simply the best. There is no other place quite like it. If you are passing through our little berg do yourself a
favor and drop into Sadlack's Heroes. The music starts around 7:30ish but the show goes on forever.
Now the other night we were all geared up and ready for an early night of slidin' on up and boogying on down. The Dexter Romweber Duo
was in town kicking off a fresh tour at the last stop before Dorthea Dix. It was be there of be L7 so you best believe ole daddyo is no
square so, I had to be there.
We walk in and Dexter is sitting at one of the picnic tables so I took a seat beside him. He showed me his new toothbrush and we talked
about the sound Rick Miller got on his latest CD, Blues that Defy My Soul, on Yep Roc Records out of Chapel Hill, NC. I mentioned
texabilly Johnny Carroll who's Rockin' Maybelle is covered by Dex on Demonbeach Records release 10 Bad Studs.
Once the show started it was apparent that Dexter is on tonight. He is more comfortable with Sam Crash LaResh behind the drum kit
than he was last time when he toiled with a pick-up drummer. Playing without a set list as usual, you never know what he might pull from
his encyclopedic knowledge of music. One of the special treats for me was Frank Ifield's I Remember You, written by Johnny Mercer and
Victor Schertzinger and originally recorded by Jimmy Dorsey in 1942. Dexter croons like no one else.
I have written about Dexter many times over the years and I have always felt my writing was never quite up to the job, never quite adequate
justice to his unique artistry. Dexter is a heinous genius and doesn't even know it. That's the best kind. Dexter can PLAY more songs
than most people can remember hearing. He slams into each number with a passion that the average geekoid rock 'n' roller will never
achieve in a lifetime of trying. He's the pinball wizard of performance art; plays by intuition, plays by sense of smell. He's just a monster
talent, a walking jukebox blowing a fuse. I don't believe Dexter Romweber consciously chose music, the music chose him. Dexter is livin'
and breathin' rock an' roll. He doesn't know any better. He can't help it. It's not a choice, he was born to rock. Several times during the
performance my companion and I looked at each other and smiled an unspoken but knowing recognition of genius at work. This guy can
raise the hackles on your neck and that's rare. And yet there he was filing our little tin barn with something very real, truly amazing,
something heartfelt and human. Dexter operates on a frequency that is completely his own, left of the dial.
So, this was a very special night. A number of the local cognoscenti of rockers were in attendance, paying tribute to a man that simply
defines what rock 'n' roll is all about, or at least what it should be about. One person notably missing from the night's festivities was the
fantastic spastic I have christened the "dancing fool", borrowing from Frank Zappa's ode to disco. For the last few months he had been an
expected fixture. This guy danced to every band that played there without regard for beat, rhythm, specific step or even the safety of those
around him, so naturally I inquired about his absence and was told he had been banned from the premises. When resting from his
manic tribal jitterbuggin' he would collect beer cans and stomp them flat. Apparently he had taken a cool brew the customer was still
working on and that was, understandably, frowned upon.
But the evening was not short on extraneous activity. About a third of the way through Sam & Dexter's set, a seemingly out of place couple
stolls in and takes to the dance floor. In between songs the, shall we say, lady commandeers the microphone with calls for hip-hop while
the gentleman stands there dumbfounded. He seems as completely befuddled by her behavior as everyone else but confounded to do
anything about it. Dexter is not amused but tries to take it all in stride. Then m'lady takes the stand again and goes off on some rambling
free form freak out that elicited a warning from the proprietor. After her third attempt to overthrow the local form of government the coup
was peacefully put down and it was suggested that they find another venue for their peculiar idea of fun. Don't wait, please vacate.
As the evening wore on the cash register broke requiring the beer tab to be written down and settled at a later time. The sweet smell of
ganja hung like a silend cloud. The house was rocked right to the rafters by THE man. I am once again at a loss to express what it is that
makes Dexter Romweber a must see artist. He is THAT and so much more. Do yourself a favor and lay your money down the next time
the Dexter Romweber Duo graces a stage near you. Be there or forever be sorry.
by ron taylor
DEXTER ROMWEBER DUO / THROW RAG / TEN BAD STUDS: A 12" SPLIT
"If Dexter Romweber's music was ever about exorcism, this is proof it still is. Ten Bad Studs - the latest offering from our hero, justifiably recognized as
an architect of backwoods garage rhythm'n'blues - serves five live recordings from Romweber recorded between Chapel Hill and Chattanooga, offering a
glimpse into the soul of a man who dances, sings and strums like a banshee in spite of, or, more exactly, because of it. For "Dreams Don't Cost a Thing,"
the former Flat Duo Jets frontman moans in a weary baritone: "When you smile, my heart goes wild, and I want you all the while/You're not free, We'll
never be/But a dream, that don't cost a thing." See, Dex admits the demon, and - a spin later - he tries to drive it down, turning "Curse of the Little Bastard"
through an instrumental honky-tonk ring of hell-raising fire, land-locking surf sounds to a bed of blistering, set-me-free blues. That central tenet - demons,
damsels and doubts expunged through twisted introspection launched out of vintage amps - is certainly something that Dex's disciples have picked up on.
For instance, Throw Rag - the LA quartet that takes the second bevy of this vinyl-only split - sounds irrevocably locked between transcendence and
damnation, eating up all-night Baywatch reruns on "Desert Shores" just after moaning their own haunting funeral marches in "Wilmington Nights."
"Halfway to Heaven," the disc's closer, is a repetant doomsday affair, as Captain Sean Doe admits that he hopes his children don't follow his footsteps,
that "Heaven is no place for a man like me." Vintage misery, two generations at a time." - Grayson Currin / The Independent
Side One: DEXTER ROMWEBWER DUO / 1. move 2. dreams don't cost a thing 3. curse of little bastard 4. l.a. studio 5. rockin' maybelle
Side Two: THROW RAG / 1. wilmington nights 2. fast to go 3. desert shores 4. d.h.s 5. halfway to heaven
(dexter romweber appears courtesy of yep roc records. throw rag appears courtesy of b.y.o. records)
"Dexter Romweber was and is a huge influence on my music. I owned all of his records as a teenager, and was thrilled at the fact that we
were able to play together recently on tour. His attitude towards music is remarkable. And his songwriting, along with his love of classic
American music from the south, be it rockabilly, country or R&B, is one of the best kept secrets of the rock'n'roll underground"
- Jack White / the White Stripes
Dexter Romweber: Born the 7th son of a coal miner's daughter in 1966, he has grown up to become nothing less than an icon of the
American music underground.
Former frontman for the world famous psycho-surf-rockabilly-garage-punk combo Flat Duo Jets, Dexter released his first of many
albums in 1990 to rave reviews worldwide. He starred alongside R.E.M. and The B-52s in the 1987 cult classic film Athens, Ga Inside
Out. His first national tour in 1990 was as opening act for The Cramps. He was showcased on MTV's The Cutting Edge and 120
Minutes, appearing with the Flat Duo Jets in videos such as "Wild Wild Lover" and "Radioactive Man", made a stunning performance on
Late Night with David Letterman, and has shared the stage with dozens of rock's underground kings including Iggy Pop, the White
Stripes, AntiSeen, Reverand Horton Heat and many, many others.
Dexter's unique blend of rockabilly, swing, surf instrumental, and punk lounge has influenced and launched an entire generation of
bands. (from the official dexter romweber duo site)
CS "Crash" LaResh, a self-taught drummer, has been playing a drum kit for 20-some odd years. He has been standing up while playing
since about 1995 shortly after he began his collaboration with Dexter Romweber. He currently resides in Virginia and travels, mostly on
week-ends, to play live shows as the Dexter Romweber Duo. Mostly opting to perform on sidewalks rather than 3000 plus venues is
where some of the pleasure of being a musician comes from. (Check out the interview as it appeared on The Duct Tape Drummer with
Beau Turkey and Crash LaResh on the official dexter romweber site.)
DEXTER ROMWEBER DUO / THROW RAG: TEN BAD STUDS
"This vinyl-only 12-inch samples five cuts apiece from erstwhile Flat Duo Jets frontman Romweber and demonic San Francisco retardo
rockers Throw Rag. The former is heard live and lo-fi, essaying his patented skronkabilly "Curse of the Little Bastard" alongside his
equally patented brand of '50s croon pop "Dreams Don't Cost a Thing".
-Fred Mills / Magnet Magazine July/August 2005