More Unheard Live Recordings of Dexter Romweber

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Play Part 2: the Live Roots Rock Unheard Basement Tapes *DEXTER*

Listen to Part 1 of this newly rediscovered Live tape of Dexter Romweber and Kimbo Miller before The Flat Duo Jets

This cassette recording was made by Kimbo, Kevin, and Dexter Romweber at Kimbo and Kevin's house in Winston-Salem, NC. Monro Smith then made copies he passed out around June of 1985 Winston-Salem. It pre-dates Dexter Romweber's band with Crow Smith, The Flat Duo Jets and their debut album "In Stereo"

More about the audio: "That was recorded on a boom box in a house on Poplar St. on a hill behind the old B&G Pie Co. It had to be '85 because it was about the time he was putting his band together. He was visiting me and my brother (Kevin) and an impromptu jam session occurred. Just me and him, my brother joined later. He was playing my 1955 Silvertone counter top model (which I bought for him but he didn't show much interest in it) through my brother's Ampeg Gemini II (he had not brought a guitar). It was one of the funnest times I ever had playing drums. I was never sure if I was auditioning or not, but I wouldn't consider myself a drummer now or then. (I'm an entertainer not a musician) I never kept a beat, I always played along to whom I was playing with...letting them lead. This method tends to work better with a duo. Anywho not long after this he formed the Flat Duo Jets and I think Crow was the right fit for the time."                             

- Kimbo Miller, March 17, 2024

Video created by Spoon Popkin, audio restoration by PJ Dorsey.



What was North Carolina Southern Punk Rock Culture in the 1980s?

There was no Internet, no cell phones, our TV had four channels. MTV and Cable were around, but that was for fancier people than us. We had no air-conditioning or no power windows in our cars, but we had cassette decks & gas was around $0.80 a gallon and a pack of smokes was $0.60. You could also go to the factory in Winston-Salem (where Camels, Winstons & Salems are manufactured) and get broken smokes free from a barrel. When we all piled into Lori Stoeber’s (now Horne) car to head off to the punk rock sub shop in Raleigh, it was a 2 1/2 hour drive each way and we wouldn’t stay for long. In classic American fashion, the driving was the point. This one night Lori sprayed her mohawk with spray paint & had to drive with her head out of the window, her hair was too tall to fit in the car. Playing music and letting the hot North Carolina air blow on us was the feeling of being alive and having nowhere we needed to be but there right then and it was perfect.

Read more about times with Psychobilly Legend Dexter Romweber & life in the 1980s

Dexter Romweber playing rockabilly guitar at the wedding of Lee Bishop & Tom Blackmar 1987

Dexter Romweber of The Flat Duo Jets singing with Kimbo Miller in 1985

Dexter Romweber was the self he had always been and would always be

Even then Dexter was incalculably cool. I thought Dexter was so much older than me. What’s old to a 16-year-old? 20? 30? I had no idea he was barely a year my senior. In the 80s we would add up how old we would be in 1999 for the turn of the millennium and mourn for the fact that we’d be way too old to have any fun then. I would be 32 at the dawn of the year 2000. This party was in June of '85, so sometime around Dexter's Birthday. At 18-19 he was just so, himself. Like his penultimate self, the self he had always been, and would always be. Dex became a Rockabilly legend later, but even then, that's just who he was.

Recently Lee Bishop sent me this about myself at the time:

“And you were like done, like finished. You were like a perfect little flower, innocent and sweet, completely self-confident, bold with your choices, 100% you already!”

Punk Rock girls in the 1980s wearing diy t-shirts and puck rock hair styles with rat tails, Spoon Popkin and Lee Bishop

Dexter Romweber playing rockabilly guitar at the wedding of Lee Bishop & Tom Blackmar 1987

Unheard Tapes of Dexter Romweber before The Flat Duo Jets

These tracks are from a tape labeled "Kimbo's Day After 1986". I can't recall how it came to be in my collection. Word on the virtual street is it was taped at Kimbo's house on a boombox. Then Monro made copies & gave them out to everyone. However it found me, it landed in the safety of my historical horde

On this tape, Kimbo & Monro, The Voodoo Mountain Boys get cut off abruptly and Dexter Romweber of The Flat Duo Jets plays electric guitar & sings as Kimbo bangs on the drums. And then Dexter gets cut off abruptly, then Monro starts singing. And then just as abruptly Dexter & Kimbo are back again. There's one more singer I don't recognize on the tape...

Crow joined up with Dexter shortly after this was recorded & released their first Flat Duo Jets cassette “In Stereo” in 1985 soon after.

Dexter Romweber playing rockabilly guitar at the wedding of Lee Bishop & Tom Blackmar 1987

A Tribute to One of The Purist Most Beautiful Musical Experiences of My Life

Nights like this ruined me for the coming Rockabilly Revival of the 90s. After experiencing Dexter & Crow as The Flat Duo Jets, they all sounded so schlocky & phoney. Like they had put on a rock’n’roll suit to take out for a spin & show off how cool they were, it felt fake. But Dexter was real rock & roll, this was no act or suit he put on.

I’d grown up in a house full of classical music with my Pop Mark Popkin, playing scales on his bassoon every morning, followed by a bit of Peter and the Wolf or an etude or two. My mom, Elsie Popkin, had taken me to see Pete Seeger play when I was around nine or 10 and there is an infamous family photograph of the resentful, irritated expression on my face as I had to endure that concert. I appreciate his politics now, but that warbly voice has always rubbed me the wrong way. I wanted to stay home and watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island. You know, the classics. So this may have been the first time that I truly truly felt what it meant to be alive with the joy of music. 

Dexter Romweber playing rockabilly guitar at the wedding of Lee Bishop & Tom Blackmar 1987

When Diners and Krispy Kreme Were the Only Places Open All Night...

I have a terrible memory for whatever I did just yesterday or last week, but I can see this morning as clearly as if I was back in that summer of 1985.

As usual, we ended up back over at the Coliseum Kitchen or some other diner for a $2.99 breakfast.

I walked into the diner behind Dexter and looked on in awe as he casually strolled between the rows of empty diner booths with their plates of leftover food, picking up half-eaten toast and bacon off of the discarded plates and just eating it like it was his home.

He was himself as he always was, always would be, and always will be.

The last time I hung out with Dexter was in the late 1990s. It was before we knew of The White Stripes, but certainly not before Jack White knew of Dexter. I'd gone to see him play and invited him to stay at my house in Baltimore. We went for brunch in the morning at The Gypsy Cafe. Sitting in the sunshine laughing about old times & sharing silly tour stories (I was in W.O.D. at the time), I thought we'd be doing this every decade or so for a long time to come. I still don't quite believe I'll never have the pure joy of seeing Dexter play again.

The "Kimbo's Day After 1986" cassette has more unheard music of both The Flat Duo Jets as well as The VooDoo Mountain Boys that I will be posting soon.

These photos were shot by me at Tom Blackmar & Lee Bishop's wedding when Dexter played the reception around 1987.

  • I'm saddened to hear that while I was writing this, Monro too has passed away. I have lots of pictures of Monro from the 80s I'll make a video with a touching song he put on this cassette.

Donate to support the Romweber family in memory of Dexter and his sister Sara at either of these choices :

UNC Hospice 

Glioblastoma Foundation 


Thank you!