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Sara Rogo performing at sunset at Beacon’s Beach. Photo by David Boylan
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Lick the Plate: Sunset sessions with Sara Rogo

As all of us who appreciate live music know too well, this pandemic has put a big wrench in something we took for granted. Musicians who count on performing as a part of their livelihoods have been hit especially hard. With that said and given the hustling nature they possess to begin with, many are making it work in their own creative ways.

On a recent bike ride around town that I always time with the last 15 minutes or so of daylight at a local beach access, I stumbled upon Sara Rogo winding down a beautiful set at Beacon’s. Her last song, as the sun was setting into the Pacific was Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

It was a musical moment so powerful it produced tears of joy that I honestly had no control over. Sara’s performance moved me so much I had to share her story and with that, here it is.

LTP: Where did you grow up and what were some of your early food and music memories?

Sara: I grew up in Connecticut and my first memories with music were with my plastic keyboard. I would write songs for hours about everything under the sun. When it comes to food and music it’s a funny story because my parents were not into good food and did not listen to music and now those are my two favorite things.

I think that’s what makes food and music all the more special to me, because I discovered it in my own time and way. I remember going to my Italian friend’s house and listening to classical music while making artichoke pasta with her family. I felt so warm and realized there was a whole new world out there of senses I had yet to discover.

LTP: Who were some of your early musical influences?

Sara: I joined band early on in school and took up the saxophone and shortly after the guitar, ukulele, bassoon, clarinet, harmonica, and the list goes on. I played in my first concert before I attended one and that was Bob Dylan in New York. When I heard him, I realized I wanted to write music that really said something.

I fell deep and hard into Delta blues and studied with guitar greats Paul Rishell and Woody Mann, who took me on tour down south to the Delta and that really influenced me both as an artist and a human.

LTP: When did you realize music was the direction you wanted to take your career?

Sara: Honestly there was never any question. There were different variations on the dream, like being a conductor or composer or artist, but I’ve always known.

LTP: Let’s talk about Encinitas, when did you land here and what were your first impressions?

Sara: I love Encinitas and landing in North County was literally a dream of mine as I longed for that surf town life. I was amazed by the sense of community that revolved around surfing, food, music, and more. I just remember calling my mom and saying, “I’m in paradise.”

LTP: Who were some of the musicians you connected with here?

Sara: I love the local music community. Some of the first people that I connected with were Ben Powell, Nathan James, Daring Greatly, the duo Nathan And Jessie, and so many more that I could fill up a page. I was welcomed and everyone helped me out tremendously and honestly, I will never forget that kind of kindness and community.

LTP: What are your some of your favorite restaurants here?

Sara: My favorite place in the world is the local farmers market. We didn’t have them growing up so to be able to go to the market and support farmers is so thrilling to me. I will say that the Regal Seagull in Leucadia makes a cheeseburger to die for. My favorite restaurant right now is Plumeria Thai food in Encinitas — they just do everything so perfectly.

LTP: Tell me more about the sunset gigs you do and what brought them on?

Sara: During quarantine, my friend who works with a special-needs child asked me to give him a surprise social distancing concert. I set up my portable amp on the sidewalk and played music for him and his family. I had no idea the impact it would have on them and me. I started to set up my portable system at Beacon’s Beach bluff during sunset and started to gather crowds of people that would just hang around listen to the music and watch the sunset.

Honestly, tips aside, it is such a fulfilling thing and so worthwhile. I have been calling them my “sunset sessions” and I have also been playing people’s patios, backyards in private family gatherings. This is a really great and safe way to bring joy to people and honestly I love it so much more than playing in bars! Talk about a silver lining from all of this madness.

LTP: What is going on currently in your music world?

Sara: Right now, I’m waiting to release a new album of songs. I started a new artist project under “ROGO” and have been playing around a lot with creating music that involves multiple layers of textures, feelings, and spaces. I truly believe I’m here to help reinvent the music industry and how artists can actually make a living and name for themselves.

Going forward selling my albums, I want to include tea blends, visuals, and sensory recommendations that go along with what I want my fans to experience when they hear a particular project. Life is not two-dimensional so why should we treat our art as such? A lot is crumbling in the world right now and we are being called to rebuild it in a way that is sustainable, and more beautiful than ever before.

Listen to and book Sara Rogo for private, socially distanced shows by reaching her at www.rogothewild.com