Well, that didn’t take long. Here it is only Tuesday of my first full week away from the News & Observer after 28 years — and already, there’s a story that’s killing me not to do for the paper. If I were still in the newsroom, I would be spending today writing a proper N&O obituary and remembrance of Sara Romweber, who died Monday night from cancer at the much-too-young age of 55.
Romweber was one of the great drummers in North Carolina music history. I was a fan long before I moved here, thanks to her time in the band Let’s Active in the early/mid-1980s. And once I got here and started seeing her in other bands, that fandom only grew. From Let’s Active’s brainy art-pop to Snatches of Pink’s metallic glam-rock, with the runaway-train garage-rock of her brother’s Dex Romweber Duo somewhere in between, she played a very wide range of music and did so brilliantly, invariably displaying casual nonchalance — always on-point, never unnecessarily showy.
UPDATE: Whattaya know, I was able to give her a proper sendoff in Indyweek.
Whenever I’d see Sara Romweber onstage, I would ask myself: How does she hit those drums so hard? Because even though she was soft-spoken and slightly built, Sara could flat-out bring the thunder — especially in her brother-sister act Dex Romweber Duo, and in Michael Rank’s Snatches of Pink. She also played on some of my all-time favorite records with Let’s Active.
I think the only time I actually interviewed her was for the Flat Duo Jets box set liner notes a few years ago. And she told me one of my favorite anecdotes of that whole project, about life growing up in the Romweber family home in Carrboro:
“Dex would be practicing by himself in the basement, where the furnace was. His voice really carried & it would come up thru the vents. You could hear his voice & guitar really well on the 2nd story from the basement, like a speaker. He’d be learning songs our mom knew, Elvis ballads, and he’d keep stopping because he did not know the lyrics. So mom set down her knife, opened the door & said, ‘Dex, honey, that goes…’ ‘Okay, thanks!’”
She also talked at length about monster movies, soccer, Catholic school, the many bands she and her siblings played in over the years — about everything except herself, in fact. I think that was pretty typical, because Sarah did not seem like one to call attention to herself. But you only had to see her play once, and you’d never forget her.
Alas, she is another one gone too soon — from cancer at age 55, preceded in death by her old Let’s Active bandmate Faye Hunter.
Rest in peace, Sara. Gonna fire up “Cypress,” “Dead Man” and “Ruins of Berlin” in your honor.