"Dex 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. 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 (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather)
For a quarter century, Dex Romweber has trolled the dark corners and back shelves of the haunted thrift store of Americana ephemera and honed an extraordinarily idiomatic sound, a particular and readily identifiable DEXness for those in the know. It’s a creepy doll collection of surf, proto-rockabilly, garage, dark and vengeful blues, and nobody, but nobody, plays it like Dex.
First with the legendary Flat Duo Jets and now with his sister Sara on drums, Dex distilled the punk ethos of less-is-more to the essential guitar/drums template. Left in the wake of his lecherous and slithery Silvertone guitar were early acolytes like Jack White, Neko Case, and the Reigning Sound as well as a current crop of the indie pack like Ty Segall, No Age, Japandroids, and The Black Keys. All owe an unclaimed pawn ticket of debt to his sublime and spine-tingling sound. He is a live wire back to the murky, sometimes dangerous and always unpredictable headwaters of real rock and roll.
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.
Flat Duo Jets – so often emulated, so rarely duplicated – released the first of nine albums in 1990 to rave reviews worldwide. They starred, alongside R.E.M. and The B-52s, in the 1987 cult classic film Athens, GA: Inside/Out. Their first national tour in 1990 was as opening act for The Cramps (where Bloodshot Rob first saw them) and they made a stunning impression on Late Night with David Letterman.
Dex was name-checked by Jack White in the guitar superstar documentary It Might Get Loud, and the Duo recorded a single and live album with White for his label Third Man Records in 2009. The Duo has shared the stage with dozens of rock icons including Wanda Jackson, Cat Power, Neko Case, Exene Cervenka, Detroit Cobras, Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, Southern Culture on the Skids and The White Stripes.
In 2012, the documentary about Dex’s sometimes harrowing career Two Headed Cow was released.
Guitar fans take note. Dex ain't one of those guys who needs series of effects pedals the size of a table top to destroy a room; all that noise, that beautiful beautiful noise he makes just comes his guitar, his fingers and his brain. If only 10% of guitarists played with HALF his conviction, the world would be a much better, and wilder, place.
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.
- James Leg (Black Diamond Heavies) covers Dex's "Is That You In The Blue?" on While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records