[Editor's note: This blog seemed to have gotten lost in a recent computer snafu, so I'm reprinting it with the hope that this time, you'll all be able to read it — unfortunately, sans photo, but now with a YouTube clip of the Dex Romweber Duo's furious performance of "Jungle Drums"]
One thing you can say about The White Stripes' Jack White: He's never forgotten his roots.
Many will remember what the blues-rock guitar mangler did to help revive Loretta Lynn's career a few years ago. Now, in a partnership that's been a long time in coming, White has recorded two songs for a special 7-inch vinyl-only record with that two-headed monster of gothic rockabilly The Dex Romweber Duo, a Bloodshot Records act whose namesake used to lay down scorching riffs in The Flat Duo Jets.
For the uninitiated, the Flat Duo Jets was a red-hot garage guitar/drums combo — much like The White Stripes — that played a bare-knuckled brand of surf and rockabilly that burned like punk. White, for his part, champions the Flat Duo Jets as an influence any chance he gets in interviews, and Romweber happily accepts the compliments.
"Well, you know, Jack, he always mentions me in articles and stuff, and he might be on 'Charlie Rose' and mention the Flat Duo Jets or doing an interview for Rolling Stone, he'll talk about how much he dug my records," says Romweber. "And I'm always very touched, and there are artists that influenced me that came before, [like] a fella named Benny Joy out of Tampa, Fla., that not many people know, except collectors about him. And you know, Benny influenced me a whole lot, so I take it all in stride, and I wish Jack the best. I think he gets good sounds out of what he has. It's very nice of him to include us in his influences."
As to the particulars of the Dex Romweber Duo's collaboration with White, the new release will be put out in late May on White's Nashville-based label, Third Man Records. It's the latest installment of Third Man's vinyl-only "Blue Series," a set that features a photo of the artist on a blue cover and not a lick of text. Romweber's "The Wind Did Move" is on one side, with bass and saw playing and vocals by White, while "Last Kind Word Blues," a song initially recorded in 1930 by forgotten blues-legend Geeshie Wiley, takes up the other.
Sara Romweber, Dex's sister and the drummer in the Dex Romweber Duo, described the session work by saying, "At one point during the process, Dex was in the main room playing his guitar and Jack was behind the control board. Jack had the biggest smile on his face, and he turned to me and said, 'You have no idea how long I've waited to hear that guitar tone in my studio.'"
White's hero worship is genuine. White made this comment in the 2006 Romweber documentary "Two Headed Cow": "Dex was and is a huge influence on my music, 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."
Going further, White again cites Romweber as an influence in the 2009 documentary "It Might Get Loud," an in-depth study of the work of guitar greats Jimmy Page, The Edge and White. The Sony Pictures film is due out this summer, and live footage and recordings by the Flat Duo Jets will be included.
Getting ready to head out on tour with the Detroit Cobras, the Dex Romweber Duo is about to support its latest release, Ruins Of Berlin, an album with a number of indie A-listers, including Neko Case, Cat Power, Exene Cervenka and Southern Culture On The Skids' Rick Miller, with a slew of dates. For more about Romweber and all that's going on in the Dex Romweber Duo, visit bloodshotrecords.com
More details about the White-Dex Romweber Duo release, spawned from sessions that only took place last week at White's studio in Nashville, are listed below:
Tracklisting and liner notes for the 7":
Side A: "Last Kind Word Blues" by Geeshie Wiley
Dex plays guitar, piano and sings the lead vocal
Jack White plays acoustic guitar, lead guitar and sings a harmony lead vocal
Sara Romweber plays drums
Side B: "The Wind Did Move" by Dex Romweber
Dex plays guitar, organ and sings the lead vocal
Jack White plays bass sings and plays the saw
Sara played drums and tambourine
Dex Romweber Duo/Detroit Cobras tour 2009:
05.06.09 - Chicago, IL - Double Door
05.07.09 - Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater
05.09.09 - Fargo, ND - The Aquarium
05.10.09 - Des Moines, IA- Vaudeville Mews
05.11.09 - Kansas City, MO - The Riot Room
05.13.09 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
05.14.09 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
05.16.09 - Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan
05.17.09 - Seattle, WA - Neumo's
05.19.09 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's
05.20.09 - West Hollywood, CA - Troubador
05.23.09 - Costa Mesa, CA - The Detroit Bar
05.24.09 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
05.26.09 - Tucson, AZ - Plush
05.27.09 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
05.29.09 - Austin, TX - Emo's
05.30.09 - Houston, TX - Rudyard's
06.01.09 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
06.02.09 - Little Rock, AR - Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack
06.03.09 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone
06.04.09 - Nashville, TN - The End
06.05.09 - Birmingham, AL - The Bottle Tree
06.06.09 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
06.08.09 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
06.09.09 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
06.10.09 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
06.11.09 - Cambridge, MA - TT the Bear's
06.12.09 - Brooklyn, NY - Southpaw
06.13.09 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
06.17.09 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
06.18.09 - Indianapolis, IN - Birdie's
06.19.09 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
06.20.09 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick