The Sail Inn: More Memories From Local Musicians and Regulars

Courtesy of Gina Lombardi
The Sail Inn's first sign (circa 1990).
When The Sail Inn closes on Sunday evening after the final night of its three-day Farewell Festival, it will mark the end of an era -- not just for the bar itself, but also for the Tempe music scene.

A big chapter in the city's lore will draw to a close on Sunday when the lights finally go out and the final notes finish echoing through the air. The Sail Inn, which first opened in 1990, is one of the last remnants of Tempe's golden age of music, which feels like a lifetime ago, when the scene was crackling with energy, verve, and promise.

The Sail Inn literally bridged generations of Tempe musicians in its 24-year history and has had more than its fair share of stories and memories associated with it that its regulars are eager to spin. Strange and colorful tales of drunken misadventures, crummy stages, sweaty gigs, hookups, breakups, and everything else in between.

See Also: The Sail Inn - An Oral History of a Tempe Music Landmark

And, sorrowfully, these are pretty much all that will remain of The Sail after this weekend.

As a compliment to our oral history of the bar, we've pulled together many tales and outtakes from our interviews with The Sail Inn's regulars for your perusal.

Courtesy of Gina Lombardi
The interior of The Sail Inn during its early years.

Gavin Rutledge, former Casey Moore's co-owner:

When I met Gina, I was 20 years old. I bartended at Casey Moore's, not the present-day Casey's, for three years we were located on Seventh Street. Gina ran 6 East and I ran Casey's, so we shared a lot of customers. And we'd warn each other when the McGuinn brothers were drunk or causing trouble or whatever. We became fast friends; I was 20, she was 21. And we looked out for each other.

I used to do handstand contests with one of the McGuinn brothers at the Sail Inn. These guys lived hard, most of 'em are dead now. He was a big buff guy and I won, every time. But I drank a lot less than those guys.

Mansaray Blue Pony, local artist/blues musician:

At one of the old blues jams, a friend that played harmonica had one of those remote [microphones] for it. He'd gotten off stage and forgot to turn it off. And we were all sitting there talking and all of a sudden we heard this big sound of a toilet flushing over the P.A.

Courtesy Photo
Two musicians perform back in the early days of Sail Inn.

Mario Moreno, guitarist, Hoodoo Kings:

The Sail Inn was a pretty scruffy bar and it had its share of characters, guys that I swear lived in that bar. There was a time there when the blues bands were really popular. There was a bunch of them: Big Pete [Pearson] and Small Paul, The Rocket 88s, Hot Ice, Chuck Hall...god there was a lot. For awhile, there was a half a dozen bands there, maybe more that all played on a circuit. We played the third anniversary. It was on a Sunday afternoon, I remember and I think it was really hot.

Location Info


Sail Inn - CLOSED

26 S. Farmer Ave., Tempe, AZ

Category: Music

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