Dex Romweber, J.D. Wilkes
Southgate House Revival, 111 E 6th St, Newport, KY
Buy Tickets, 9pm show
For nearly 30 years, the name Dex Romweber has been the password to a cool club. It lets the doorman size you up through the slit in the green door that leads to a world where rock and roll is still real… and real, real gone. Dex’s progeny, impacted by his wild and wildly influential work in Flat Duo Jets, his Duo and solo, includes the White Stripes, the Black Keys, the Kills, Man or Astroman? and dozens of other bands that have stripped down, turned up, and cut loose.
Songs don’t just come out of Dex, they seem to erupt; there is an unearthly urgency in the singer and the song. There’s no tamping it down, Dex lays it out there every time. But sometimes – in all that mind-blowing sound and energy – the soul often gets overlooked, and Dex is, above all else, a deeply soulful performer.
On Carrboro, Dex assumes several musical mantles (and uncharacteristically plays all or many of the instruments). There’s the sparse and jumpy hillbilly liveliness of “Knock Knock (Who’s That Knockin’ On My Coffin Lid Door?)” with help from Rick Miller of Southern Culture On The Skids; “Lonesome Train,” originally recorded by Cecilia Batten in nearby Chapel Hill in ’57; and a take on the T. Bone Burnett penned “I Don’t Know,” sung by Ryan Bingham and The Dude for the film Crazy Heart (says Dex: “the lyrics seem to be so much about my own life… damn I just had to record it”). With the fuller sound of the New Romans, a 10-piece Chapel Hill collective, “Nightide” is a Tarantino grind on the surf-deck of the USS Enterprise, while Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World” throbs with a thrilling apocalyptic gloom.