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'Turn it up and crank the reverb': Carrboro celebrates first Dexter Romweber Day

Monica Romweber, Michael Benson and Ann Shy pose with DEX pint glasses for DTH.jpg

Monica Romweber, Michael Benson and Ann Shy pose with DEX pint glasses outside of Lapin Bleu on Friday, March 22, 2024.

On Friday afternoon, many of Dexter Romweber's close friends and family gathered at Lapin Bleu — a Carrboro bar and art gallery he performed at often — to celebrate the first Dexter Romweber Day.

John Michael "Dexter” Romweber II, a Chapel Hill-Carrboro musician and songwriter  known for his work in the rockabilly and garage rock genres, died at the age of 57 on Feb. 16. To honor the legacy he left behind, Dexter Romweber fan and Carrboro mayor pro tem Danny Nowell read a proclamation at the most recent Carrboro Town Council meeting designating Friday, March 22, 2024 as Dexter Romweber Day.

On Friday, Lapin Bleu featured a limited run of special "DEX" pints with a picture of Romweber. 

“We thought it would be nice, as he had regular gigs scheduled all the way through 2030, that we would have a beer special whenever he played and he’d have his own pint glass,” Michael Benson, the owner of Lapin Bleu said.

Dexter Romweber Day is well-deserved, Monica Romweber, Dexter’s older sister, said. At Lapin Bleu, Monica sat outside next to her “honorary Romweber sister” Ann Shy, who was wearing an old Dex Romweber Duo t-shirt.

“Don't get me wrong, because Dexter and Sara were all over this town, but Dexter truly was all over Carrboro,” Monica said. “And the outpouring of all the stories and the love and the care for Dexter throughout his life here is huge."

Journalist and music critic David Menconi and Kirk Ross, a journalist, guitarist and vocalist of the band Lud, co-wrote the resolution presented to the Carrboro Town Council. Menconi said he wrote a similar resolution when Dexter’s sister Sara Romweber, the other half of the band Dex Romweber Duo, died in 2019. He said he was honored to do it.

Menconi said he heard Dexter before he ever saw him. It wasn’t until 1990 when Dexter blew him away, he said.

“[Dexter] is someone who has always meant a lot to me,Menconi said, while surrounded by several pieces of Dexter’s painted artwork and a signed record album of Wild Wild Love by Flat Duo Jets a rock band Dexter formed with Chris “Crow” Smith in 1983, when he was 17“The music he’s played and what a character he was — and someone I followed closely, avidly and obsessively for a third of the century.”

Ross said Dexter’s sound was something that could be loud and brash or quiet and soulful, but always had a little life to it. As a tribute, Ross said he will turn up his guitar real loud and crank the reverb for Lud's next gig.

“I think there's a style of music we play around here that, I think, is kind of ecstatic,” Ross said. “And he really embodied that.” 

Greg Bell, who is acting as the memorial director for Romweber's memorial in April, said that in honor of Dexter, he plans on walking the streets, making some noise and saying hello to everyone.

“Besides his obvious musical talent, passion and all of that, one reason he's so missed and so well known in this community is he never met a stranger,” Bell said.

On April 7, the Romweber family is hosting an official memorial event at The Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. The event has already reached capacity, but will be livestreamed.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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