Such is the case with Sarah Rogo, who will host a special “signing show” on Sept. 2 at Java Joe’s celebrating her recent signing to Los Angeles-based label, Funzalo Records. Originally from New England, few have taken the local scene by storm quite like Rogo.
A masterful songwriter, with a whiskey-tinged voice to match her slide guitar playing and a commanding stage presence, even in a community that has spawned such luminaries as Jack Tempchin, Jason Mraz, Steve Poltz and Gregory Page, Rogo is a stand out.
She arrived in San Diego on Jan. 1 2016, drawn by the same thing that lures many. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a surfer,” she said. “I figured I would get closer to LA and closer to the surf culture I’ve always craved.”
Rogo has been performing since she first picked up the guitar. “Technically my first performance was ‘a mash up of ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ at my parents barbecue,” she said. “But my first big performance was when I was 15 at a park amphitheater in Danbury Conn.”
Though now known for her guitar skills, Rogo was initially a saxophone player, inspired by her local library. “I would wander around the music collection as a kid and discover new music,” she recalled.
“That’s where I found the blues. I was a saxophone player who played guitar on the side to write my songs but when I started studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston I met my guitar heroes, Paul Rishell and Woody Mann. They opened up a whole new world for me and I’ve been hooked on guitar ever since.”
Rogo notes the choice of Java Joe’s for venue was both for its history and it’s vibe. “I love the new Java Joes,” she enthused. “It’s a great location and so comfortable. It’s very conducive to listening and that’s why I chose it for my label-signing celebration show.” For this event Rogo will be performing solo, with special guests joining in. She will debut a full band for her performance at the Adams Avenue Street Fair on Oct. 1.
For her part, Rogo is happy with her move west. “My time in San Diego has been incredibly exceptional,” she said. “There have been so many kind hearts that have supported and helped me. I have never felt more at home.”
Even with so much positive happening in her career at the moment, Rogo acknowledges the music business can be tough. “Sometimes I don’t know how I keep going, but my feet and fingers just keep moving and I don’t look back,” she said. “Usually it’s the pure love of a good song and getting it out there to people. At the end of the day it’s just about having fun, so I try to find ways to always keep that spark.”
Next year will see Rogo continue to record and tour further afield. It’s all part of why she enjoys being a musician. “I like meeting new people and going new places, I enjoy taking an essence-like feeling or message and turning it into a song,” she mused. “I enjoy discovering myself through writing and performing.”
Now an established West Coast resident, has surfing crossed over into her music? “You bet it does,” she said. “Surfing and music are so intertwined for me. Not only is the community tight-knit, they are supportive and come out to my shows, but it’s also very emotionally tied together.” It’s clear how much Rogo loves her new home in San Diego. “I gain so much personal strength paddling out every day,” she explained. “I face my fears, I calm my mind, and I find the same spiritual beauty in both music and surfing.”