Darkness and Light

The South is deep and sometimes dark, and we love artists who aren’t afraid (or afeared as some say it) to dig down into the clay, swim in the blackest swamps and plunge into the kudzu choked forest. That might be said of the music of Dex Romweber and Scott Miller, though they sound little alike. The night promises foot-stomping, greasy grooves as well as rich characters and in-your-face ideas.

Dex Romweber is one of the underground heroes of southern rock – the Athens, GA kind, not the Skynyrd kind. Back in the day, as the guitar grinding singer and writer in the Flat Duo Jets, Romweber married punk rock and surf music with down home blues – an Iggy Pop for Dixie. Today he carries on that duo-as-band band tradition, performing with his drummer sister Sara, whose background includes work with other regional icons like Let’s Active. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Jack White of the White Stripes would not only be a lifelong fan, and now he’s signed the Romweber Duo to his new, Nashville based label.

With Scott Miller, it’s more of a literary thing, but with no quarter and no code of political correctness anywhere in sight. He emerged in the 1990s as leader of the spectacular, much-missed V-Roys, a band so good Steve Earle signed them and produced them. But after a New Year’s Eve farewell show at the turn of the millennium, Miller became a solo artist in 2000 and since then he’s been one of the smartest, sharpest and most insightful voices out there. Expect nothing less than tightly-coiled energy and excellence.

On a night like this, Peter Bradley Adams and Johnny Corndawg will offer some leavening contrasts. Adams is an extraordinary singer/songwriter who draws listeners in with exquisite soundscapes, serene melodies and unmistakable intensity. As a founder of the band eastmountainsouth, he proved his affinity for American roots music. As a solo artist about to release his third album, he gives us that sensibility distilled into modern pop.

Emerging artist Jonny Corndawg is a songwriter, satirist and visual artist who will surprise, surprise, surprise. As his name implies, there will be laughter, but as the Nashville Scene wrote this summer: “There’s an endearing sincerity tucked behind Corndawg’s words, and his appreciation for traditional-country artists from Hank Sr. to Jerry Reed is unmistakable.”

– Craig Havighurst

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