See this band LIVE at George’s Majestic Lounge on Friday, October 28.
By Mihke Chanay
TFW Contributing Writer
The Dex Romweber Duo is one of the greatest bands that you have probably never heard of. They are playing on Friday at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville.
As such, I was awarded the privilege of talking to Dexter Romweber over the phone this past Saturday morning about music, the Internet, touring and Jack White.
The duo features Dex Romweber on vocals and guitar along with his sister Sara Romweber on drums. Sara was a founding member of Snatches of Pink back in 1985. And unlike some other groups that claim to be related, they really are siblings. When I asked about the dynamics of playing music with a family member, Romweber said it’s good, calling his sister, “the most gifted drummer I’ve ever played with. She practices all the time.”
The pair have been covering a lot of ground around the country since releasing their second album, the rockabilly/surf/nightclub tinged “Is That You in the Blue?” in July. The show at George’s is the first night of a two and a half week eastern U.S. tour, including a week’s worth of shows with The Meat Puppets, the Phoenix, Ariz., cowpunk band.
Romweber first started playing actual shows when he was only 13. Eventually he and Crow Smith formed The Flat Duo Jets, and they crisscrossed the land and played just about anywhere they could. Now in another duo and once again playing everywhere possible he says, “I think of what, of all people, Linda Ronstadt said about needing to get on stage even when I shouldn’t be there. I think about some of my heroes like Benny Jay, Jimmy Page, or Patsy Cline, you know, what they did and had to do.”
In fact, Romweber’s been rocking long enough that his music has been cited by current artists like Cat Power and Jack White as a major influence. “That’s great if they get something out of it. But it’s not something I’m really aware of,” he says. “As musicians, we all draw from each other anyway.” Jack White has invited them along for some gigs like recently opening for rockabilly/country icon Wanda Jackson. White’s also recorded and released more of their music, like the single “The Wind Did Move” and a full concert. Plus he’s beginning to reissue some of The Flat Duo Jets’ earlier out of print albums on his Third Man Records.
When I asked him about his thoughts on illegal downloading and file sharing, Romweber said, “Computers and the Internet have revolutionized our lives in so many ways that I don’t really think about it like that. I never made that much from my record company anyway. In one night I’ll be lucky to make as much as one person would pay for one ticket to see something like Metallica. I just figure if more people hear it, that’s a good thing.”
As far as what the immediate future holds for Romweber and his sister, he said, “It’s feast or famine right now. Sara has said that touring bands are dying. With gasoline prices rising, it’s harder for bands and fans to make it to shows. Money is tight, it’s not like I’m still 18. Now I’ve got a mortgage to pay.”
“Is That You in the Blue?” is a great record. It’s all right if you don’t know anything about The Dex Romweber Duo. This is your chance to acquire and appreciate everything you’ve been missing. Cycling through genres with ease, the brother/sister combo sounds like everything that’s been absent from live rock and roll for too long. There’s a feeling that this is what music could and should be, and you’ll probably wonder why you’ve never heard of them before.
Recorded in longtime friend Rick Miller’s (guitar and vocals for seminal swamp rockabilly outfit Southern Culture on the Skids) home studio in North Carolina, the album was finished in about 2 weeks. The duo blends amazing originals with phenomenal covers while hosting a number of guest musicians. One of many standout tracks, “The Death of Me,” was actually written for the band by Django Haskins, with Haskins also contributing a haunting slide guitar part.
You need to see this band if only to experience rock and roll at it’s finest. Don’t forget to lay down some of your hard earned dollars for some merchandise, especially hard copies of the albums themselves (unless ordering them online directly from Bloodshot Records), as this is the kind of band that’s so indie that you’d have to do some serious searching to find them anywhere else.