“So our Sail Inn is sailing away,” says Gina Lombardi, owner of one of the few standing Tempe music venues, which will be closing its doors on June 29.
Lombardi points all around the venue and remembers that only a few years ago everything surrounding The Sail Inn was dirt. Now there are traffic cones and construction signs for the brand new condos being built all around and developers are planning to fill the area with bars and restaurants.
“Our property, half an acre, a little over, this is going to be The Lodge, which is a bar in Scottsdale. It will be mainly a bar/restaurant and they won’t be doing live music,” she says.
Lombardi has been a mover and a shaker in the Tempe music scene for three decades. As the owner of The Sail Inn she has given musicians and their loved ones a place to gather and feel at home. She has cultivated a family of loyal friends that are all coming together to celebrate the venue one last time at The Sail Inn Farewell Festival, June 27 through June 29.
“We’ve had a really good run here and the Sail Inn has been my baby since I was a kid, really,” she says. “I’ll be 53 and I got the bar when I was 28. It’s seen many changes.”
The patio area once had grass and the outdoor stage area once was a volleyball court, but the memories that will live on are those of times spent together with friends, some who have passed on.
Ken Kareta, the production manager at The Sail Inn and the man behind the sound system for both indoor and outdoor stages, says the venue is a place that put him back together after the loss of his wife.
“I think it’s a shame that we are going to be losing the only local venue with an outdoor stage,” Kareta says.
“We have probably one of the most extreme varieties of any club in the area. We have the tie-dye sect dancing with their children in bare feet Sundays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays it could be a jazz show or a punk show, there’s indie pop bands. It’s definitely a variety. It’s hard to get bored.”
The Farewell Festival will serve as a memorial for the venue and a final hoorah before Lombardi moves on to Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee.
“This was going to be it and I was going to retire and so many of the bands kept coming up to me and saying, ‘You’re not done. Where are we going next?’” Lombardi says.
A new stage, almost as big as the outdoor Sail Inn stage, is being built at Cactus Jack’s with a new sound system and a dance floor. The Noodles, which were one of the first bands to play The Sail Inn, will be one of the first bands to play the new stage.
Lombardi says they plan on starting live music there on Sunday, July 13, but first she has to full enjoy the three-day Farewell show.
Sail Inn Farewell Festival, w/Love Me Nots, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, Banana Gun, Japhy’s Descent, Dry River Yacht Club, Jared & The Mill, Black Carl, Hot Birds & the Chili Sauce, The Noodles, Sugar Thieves, Xtra Ticket, The Sail Inn, 26 S. Farmer Avenue, Tempe, thesailinn.com, Friday, June 27 to Sunday, June 28, times vary, $15 per day, $35 three day pass