While a varied crop of comedy-seeking infiltrators showed up at Will's Pub on Tuesday night for The Tonight Show free comedy night (a line wrapped around the exterior of the bar to get in, which I have not seen since the Prince cover show), I was there for the music. Nervous that these jokers would block me out from this show I'd been very much anticipating since I interviewed show headliner Dexter Romweber (whose new album, Images 13, includes two surf songs, "Blue Surf" and "Blackout!", a coincidence that I'd also been swimming in the surf rock world for this week's music feature), I showed up promptly for doors.
Luckily, the crowd was largely respectful to the performers and the show attendees. And Dex Romweber Duo - which also features bad-ass drummer Sara Romweber - did not disappoint me, opening with a cover of "Mexicali Baby" as Dex promised he would, and working his way through my favorites on the new album (including "Baby I Know What It's Like to Be Alone," "Long Battle Coming" and the Who's "So Sad About Us"). It was an emotional, wide-ranging set, painting Romweber's many-colored influences across the backdrop of Will's Pub's stage, and I've still got a kink in my neck from straining to watch his fingers fly on his guitar - which he admitted he was struggling to keep in tune for the show. It was all right by me, and I can only hope Romweber will resist the temptation to stop creating new music (he told me Images 13 might be his last record) and be back soon.
Openers that night were two of my favorite nostalgia-fueled locals, the Woolly Bushmen and the Wildtones; both bands rocked and both were alongside me in the front row during Dex's set. The Wildtones' upright bass player Nadeem Khan even managed to wedge himself into the final song of Romweber's performance. During the last song, Khan was singing along at a level that nearly matched Dex's, causing the guitarist to halt mid-song to complain, "Now, don't do that," until he recognized the offending backseat vocalist was Khan and changed his tune, inviting the much-revered local musician onstage to help him close out the night.