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Hop aboard this eclectic trio's musical roller-coaster ride. 

Last Exit to Dexterville

Richmond music-scene veteran Jonny Cecka puts down his coffee cup as he gathers his thoughts about the new combo he's joined. The prospects for Dexterville have him pumped, and soon his words tumble out in a rapid-fire stream of excitement.

"Part of the idea of what we're doing is to make it more intimate ...," he explains. "... A lot of this is kind of experimental."

Dexterville's experimental sound mixes rockabilly country with cabaret, gypsified jazz and atmospheric pop noir. The trio has played only a handful of dates around the South and in the East, and has one coming up Saturday, April 1, at the Canal Club with the Chrome Daddy Disco Revival. But audience response so far has the guys thinking long-term.

"Obviously, we're onto something," Cecka says.

Cecka attributes a big chunk of this quick acceptance to his band mates, particularly singer-guitarist Dexter Romweber of the late, lamented Flat Duo Jets. After more than a decade as a renowned performer and player, Romweber has a devoted following that helps bring fans to the shows. Cecka, who plays stand-up bass, says he and primal drummer Crash LaResh are often in awe of Romweber and his natural frantic style.

"He gets his whole heart and soul into it," Cecka says. "He can rock out like a wild man then croon like he's going to die."

But Dexterville has its own musical statement to make, and, so far, new and unsuspecting audiences have dug the trio's raucous mix even if, as Cecka freely admits, they're sometimes mystified by the musical roller-coaster ride.

The group got together for the first time last Thanksgiving after LaResh and Romweber journeyed to Richmond to record a song at Sound of Music studios for a new Tom Waits tribute album, "Step Right Up, Vol. II." They both knew Cecka's bass playing and asked him to come down and round out the sound. After running through the Waits song and some Romweber originals for a demo, the threesome realized they gelled together as musicians.

All three players share common musical passions rooted deeply in rock, traditional country, punk and hillbilly. But each has individual tastes that incorporate many sounds including country blues, Ventures reverb-surf, Gene Krupa jazz and '60s Italian movie soundtracks. The result is Dexterville's own mesh of styles that's both unpredictable and intense. "All three of us are very different, and we all bring it to the table and throw it out there," Cecka explains.

Cecka says that in addition to the new band's inclusion on the Tom Waits tribute CD, there's a national tour in the works for the spring and probably a recording down the line. But, for now, Dexterville just wants listeners to lend an ear to its thumping backwoods barroom barrage. The band has plenty to offer, Cecka says.

"We don't have a problem throwing it all in the mix …We just want to show everything we're capable
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