On his post-MCR record show tonight, Eddie Stubbs spun Johnny Bush, whose nickname is the Country Caruso. Well if that’s true, then Dex Romweber is the Pavarotti of Punk. During his show-closing set tonight, his voice rang out with big wide vibrato and a completely satisfying snarl. There’s rockabilly in there and surf and a sound the grunge movement strived for and missed. He even offered up an electric folk take on “Brazil,” with sister Sara drumming deftly. As I tried to not gush in our on-stage interview, I’ll always think of both of them as a great part of the North Carolina I grew up in, along with vinegar-based barbecue pig and seeing Richard Petty’s race car at the State Fair.
But all roots music, comes with a built in sense of place, even if it’s not made in that place. In our interviews, Peter Bradley Adams talked about loving Eastern drone notes and how working with them with his former duo eastmountainsouth took the American standard “Hard Times” into a new place and to a new level. And Scott Miller told everyone about how coming from the bustling burg of Swoope, Virginia (it’s not even on Google Earth people) shaped his ideas about stories and how they get made into songs. Wish we’d had a half hour with both of them.
So yeah, we had another good time out at oveless Barn on a Wed night, and thanks to John, we kept the show on time. The sliders with pimento cheese were hillbilly fabulous. Tom Morales, you are one fine and jovial host.
Musically, Scott Miller started the Roots off with a bracing solo acoustic set, including that kind of awesomely dirty song “Citation” that he made the title of an album a few years back. Jonny Corndawg, nee Fritz, is a curious young cat who sang self-penned pining country songs about stuff other than love or God. Like exercise. Have a listen to my really enjoyable 10-minute conversation with him over in the show archive. Peter Bradley Adams looks like he’s from California even though he’s from Alabama and sounds really Nashville (to me) even if he recently (I’m told) moved to Brooklyn. I was particularly taken with the song “Family Name.” And it was very nice to see and hear my friend Lex Price decorating Peter’s songs with his tenor guitar and mandolin. Anyone who’s come out to the show can now testify that beyond the front guys and girls, the level of sheer musicianship we’re being treated to each week is kind of astonishing.
But this somehow will always live on as the Dexter Romweber Duo show for me. Some of the WSM faithful politely slipped out when faced with his barbed wire guitar and Sara’s plundering drumming, and that’s fine. But with that raucous, sloppy magic he has, Dex brought some Gene Vincent and Dick Dale to our barn and reminded me why I loved the Ramones and why I’m proud to have been shaped by the music of my place.