SXSW: 5Things From Zach Rogue

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We are thrilled that Rogue Wave will be playing KCRW’s Day Showcase at the Convention Center on Saturday, March 20 during the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, TX. The band’s new album out on Brushfire Records, “Permalight,” is already a station favorite (it was the 7th most played CD last week) and we will be broadcasting part of their set live on KCRW during Chris Douridas’ show at around noon PST.

As a preview,  singer Zack Rogue reflects back on the band’s time recording in Oxford, MS. Here’s his 5Things:

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Top 5 Things Do in Oxford, MS When You’re Bored by Zach Rogue

We spent April through September working on our new record “Permalight” in Oxford, MS. Let’s just say there was some occasional down time.

1) The Main Squeeze

The south is known for many things. Healthy cuisine is not one of them. About one week into the recording process, a few kind souls who could tell we were not from town tipped us off to a juice bar called the Main Squeeze. Apparently, they suspected that if we did not receive a proper dose of wheat grass, our California bones would soon turn to dust. Right they were. The Main Squeeze has all the things you need to start the (slow) morning off right: oatmeal (with oh so thinly sliced apples, walnuts, soy milk, and a rumor of brown sugar), strong french pressed coffee, heaps of fresh vegetable and fruit juices to choose from, and yes, a farmer’s field of wheat grass. Wi-fi hovers in the ether. The owner is Ronzo. He is a real nice guy and known to wear a bolo tie on nights out. A popular local named Chico (i think the letter “o” is required among the local elite), who counts Bruce Springsteen and Joe Strummer as his friends, likes to leaf through the NY Times and wax philosophic about his adventures hitchhiking. A true original.

2) Go to a Football Game

Everybody knows we indie rockers generally have little to offer when it comes to athletic skill. I’m a huge Oakland A’s fan, but when it comes to most other sports, I’m just a guy who spent about 99% of his high school athletic career playing one position:  bench. I’m currently working on a postulation that all indie rock comes from sports rejection. So it is with this attitude that we decided to make our record in a town that has one of the biggest football colleges in the nation. One weekend, as we strolled listlessly down the street in 90+ degree humid temperatures, we decided, what the hell, let’s go see where the town went. We went to the Grove, where on any given home game, up to 100, 000 people gather to eat, setup (I’m not kidding) multiple flat-screen TVs, drink beer, and talk in thick southern accents before the game. We bought scalped tickets for about $5 and walked in. Ole Miss absolutely annihilated the other team (can’t remember who it was, but they looked really sad) and the band played a stirring rendition of “Sweet Caroline”.

3) Leave. Go to Taylor.

Taylor is the town next to Oxford. Its entire “town center” consists of the post office, a knick-knack store, and an amazing restaurant called Taylor Grocery. I am sure there is a menu of some kind, but here is what you need to know:

Before your main dish arrives, you will receive a large plate stacked with sliced sausage*, cubes of sharp cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and a cup of bbq sauce. Don’t talk about it, just grab a toothpick, spear as much as you can, and get to work.

Next, you will receive an entire catfish, fried and ready for bone disembowelment. Lemon wedges and tartar sauce are on the side. Lucky for you there will also be fries covered in melted cheese (if you want to go completely off the charts unglued you can ask for the cheese with pimentos too). For funsies, you will be chaperoned by a polite young family of hushpuppies.

When the dust settles (or when the guy strumming in the back finishes his set) and your plate looks like it’s been visited by vultures, brush yourself off and head over to Dent May’s house. I’m sure he’ll play you a set if you ask him real nice. At the least, he’ll take you out to the cotton fields to play some bocce ball.

4) Square Books

One of the nice things about Oxford is the city has an ordinance that will not allow any chain business anywhere the town square. Most of the businesses in the town square are locally owned and have a flavor unique to Oxford. My favorite spot in the square is Square Books (no idea where they got the name). Not only does the store have a deep selection of new fiction and non-fiction, but there is a particular emphasis on local and southern regional writing. It was there I picked up books by Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, and Jack Pendarvis. Sorry John Grisham. I don’t dig your books, but we can still be friends.

5) Faulkner’s Grave

The big man looms large in Oxford. He is the towering literary figure of Oxford (again, really sorry Mr. Grisham) and I suspect a key reason why there is such a thriving literary scene in Oxford. At the end of your long day of exploring the town, long after the bars have closed and the evening drizzle has begun to fall, there is no better place to stop and pay your respects than William Faulkner’s grave. There is nothing particularly fancy about the grave. It is not an ornate shrine and you wouldn’t even know it was there unless you knew where to look. It’s just a gravestone with the man’s name on it. But that is not why tipsy locals routinely drift there on their way home from a long night out. They go because they are still baffled by the man’s brilliance. And yet, as they look around the rest of the graveyard, they realize that ultimately, we are all just the same creatures living under the same southern skies.

*food was consumed prior to my recent conversion to vegetarianism. I’m currently feeling light as a feather.