Friday · Southgate House
When we spoke with Dexter Romweber prior to his show back in September, he mentioned his frustration over not having a label to subsidize his touring and the emptiness he felt being away from the road. Of course, these days Romweber is in the pink of mental health with his new association with Yep Roc, an indie label that's chock full of similarly minded Roots Rock purveyors, and their release of his first new solo album in three years, Blues That Defy My Soul. The fact that he was just here three months ago and now he's returning for another swing through the area is proof of Romweber's newfound satisfaction. If his name seems familiar, you've likely seen it in a number of places. The Batesville, Ind., furniture store that bears Romweber's name was once owned by his father, his sister Sarah drummed for cult favorites Let's Active and Snatches of Pink for nearly 20 combined years, and Dexter himself was one of the earliest practitioners of the two-man guitar/drum configuration with his much beloved outfit, Flat Duo Jets. With his hulking man-mountain friend, Crow, behind the kit, Romweber spent 15 years playing a fascinating hybrid of his avowed influences, everything from Surf to Rockabilly to Country to Folk/Blues. Romweber finally released his debut solo album, Folk Songs in 1997, and the following year saw the Jets' major label debut, Lucky Eye, but Geffen shuttered their imprint label in restructuring, and the Jets dissolved after personal disputes between Romweber and Crow. Three years later, Romweber was ready to start his solo career in earnest with the release of Chased By Martians, but the album's appearance was overshadowed by the events of 9/11 and the almost immediate demise of his new label. After another long three-year hiatus, Romweber signed with Yep Roc who put him in the studio with Southern Culture on the Skids guitarist/producer Rick Miller for the dynamic and fabulous Blues That Defy My Soul. Now teamed with texturally nuanced drummer Sam Laresh, Dexter Romweber is back on the road — where he belongs and where he shines.
Saturday · Southgate House
A phenomenally skilled Blues guitarist and equally adept novelty songwriter (favorites include "My Baby is a Nudist" and "It's Christmas, Let's Have Sex"), Duke Tumatoe has been lighting up stages around the Midwest since the late '60s. The Illinois native was an original member of a band that would morph into REO Speedwagon before his 1969 exit to found the All Star Frogs, which became a longtime staple of every bar, club and college campus in the Midwest over the next 13 years. Tumatoe's patented move was to emulate Chuck Berry's duckwalk while leaping between tabletops in venues properly equipped to accommodate. In 1976, Tumatoe and the All Star Frogs recorded their debut album, Pepper Hot; the album was recently issued on CD for the first time and is available at Duke's Web site (duketumatoe.com). In 1982, the band released their second album, Back to Chicago, but in 1983 Tumatoe dissolved the Frogs in favor of the Power Trio (in pursuit of a slightly more relaxed touring schedule). The Trio recorded and released Duke's Up in the mid '80s followed by Tumatoe's shot at the next level with his signing to Warner Brothers and the John Fogerty-produced live affair, I Like My Job!, in 1989. The major label buzz was short-lived, and Tumatoe quickly returned to his DIY roots with the formation of his own Sweetwater Music label and the releases of Wild Animal (1994), a greatest hits collection (1996) and the instrumental Picks & Sticks (1997). His subsequent signing with J-Bird resulted in 1999's Dr. Duke — A Ejukatid Man and 2001's live Pompous and Overrated. Tumatoe might well have toiled away as a cult artist for the rest of his career without the intervention of Indianapolis-based radio personalities Bob & Tom, who began featuring Tumatoe in the studio on a regular basis (one of Duke's most popular features during football season is to perform a song on Monday morning describing every game on the previous day's schedule). The pair's nationwide syndication made Tumatoe a household name in all the right households. To call Duke Tumatoe an original is to damn with faint praise; he's inventive, wildly entertaining and a stunning Blues guitarist. You don't get that all in one package very often. (BB)
Monday · The Comet
Providence, Rhode Island's thebrotherkite understand sweeping atmospherics as well as just about any of their "shoegazer" brethren. But often on their self-titled debut they are too busy rocking majestically melodic Pop/Rock nuggets to take a gander downward to see if their laces are tied. Formed in 2001 by main songwriters Patrick Boutwell and Jon Downs, the group grew the following year with the addition of bassist Andrea Mason and guitarist Mark Howard, followed by drummer Matt Rozzero, who joined in '03 as the band was recording their debut for the clairecords imprint (for live performances the band uses an iPod to re-create the album's concentrated textures). The quintet's debut has as much in common with the early releases of the late great Power Pop foursome Superdrag as it does with My Bloody Valentine or early Verve albums, but often it's the perfect mix of the two worlds. A cascading waterfall of sound, thebrotherkite's towering, chiming guitars inhale and exhale like a rigorous yoga session. But beneath the elastic reverb halo that hovers over each track there's some sublime songwriting. Opening cut "Goodnight, Goodnight, Goodnight" and closer "The Way That You Came Down" are probably the most expansive of the album's tracks, soaring under the thick but dynamic guitar layers and equally diversified rhythmic and structural shifts, creating a neo-psychedlia akin to The Secret Machines. Even among the comparatively more straightforward, driving fare, like "The Music Box" and "Porcelain," the blurred and buried vocals and ascending hooks still give the band a blissfully tripped-out vibe that is unconditionally effective. While many bands that dabble in the gazing of the shoes forget to etch out a decent song to build upon, thebrotherkite could actually pull off a stunning acoustic set; strip these songs bare and you end up with tunes that can stand alone. With their debut, thebrotherkite have created a gush of shimmering, high-ceilinged Pop music that just happens to be slathered in entrancing sonic adornments. Like junk food, it's the additives that make them extra special. (Mike Breen)