Losers' Ball at Sail Inn

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It was ironically named The Losers' Ball, but if you know anything about how people market stuff nowadays, you'd correctly guess that Sail Inn's show had incredibly cool musicians playing for a bunch of incredibly cool people. That started right at the top of the bill, with North Carolina's Dex Romweber duo, a sort of primordial White Stripes brother/sister blues duo, and Exene Cervenka, of Los Angeles' X.

The name was fitting however, because the performers and the crowd were unpretentious and didn't take themselves very seriously at all.

The locals performing all seemed thrilled to be there. Exene Cervenka and the Dex Romweber Duo are pretty big names, and getting to share the stage with them is no small honor. While Exene was considered the headliner, the Duo stole the show and the hearts of those in attendance.

The brother and sister pair rocked an old-school style. Classic rockabilly with a little edge. Dex Romweber's sweet, mesmerizing voice melded with a rickety guitar and Sara's driving drums. Covers of classics like "Brazil" and "Lover's Gold" seemed effortless, and couples in the crowd got cozy at just the right moments.

Though both Dex and Sara are phenomenal musicians, they had no qualms about stopping in places where Dex's guitar wouldn't stay in tune, playing the song in sections with a tuning break in between each one. The crowd didn't seem to mind, though, and it's that kind of honesty that makes them endearing.

What's also endearing is that after the show, they hung out and talked to everyone, at length. The people who came to see them really understand just how important and significant they are to the music world, even if their names aren't as big as some of the people with whom they work. Their recent collaborations with Jack White have given them some nice publicity, but few realize just how much Dexter Romweber, as a member of Flat Duo Jets, influenced White and others in underground music.

They also stood around and swapped stories with their fans once they were done. The small mob that formed around Sara listened intently as she told us that when she was 13, she had been fooling around, drumming a little bit in her room. When she emerged, she went up to mother and said, "Mom - I know what I wanna be." Her mother responded, "Really? What?" Sara replied, "A drummer." And her mother said, "Well what a wonderful thing to be!" It was that kind of encouragement that fueled her career.

She also talked about her admiration for her younger brother. She spoke of how wonderful his voice was, and how he's brilliant, but in a way that you just can't put your finger on. She likened him to the Colorado River, saying that it's a narrow river, deceptive in it's power. While it may be small and windy, it's that same river that carved out the entire Grand Canyon. It's not often that you hear people talk about their little brothers that way.

And as if they weren't fantastic enough, playing a phenomenal show and indulging every one of the people who was willing to be indulged, Sara, after having told a few stories rolled her eyes at herself, and said, "Oh - but enough about me," waiting for others to share their lives too. And Dex was appreciative of the locals, coming outside to get Sara who was still chatting while locals Barefoot & Pregnant were playing, telling her that she absolutely had to come in and see them before their set was over.

It was that kind of humility and graciousness that set the tone for the night. Great music, great people, great conversation, and no pretense. You don't get that too often.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Exene Cervenka, Dex Romweber Duo, and locals at Sail Inn

Better Than: Any other night with a bunch of losers.

Personal Bias: Getting to talk so long with Sara Romweber was really cool. I wish that every woman, especially one interested in music got to hang out with her for a night.

Random Detail: Bam Bam, formerly of Phoenix punk band JFA, was in attendance and may have been seen sniffing a Sharpie marker.

Further Listening/Watching: Jungle Drums

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