Sail Away Wine wants you to come chill in NKC
On Armour Road in North Kansas City, there’s a place to catch music you might not have considered. Sail Away Wine is, not surprisingly, a wine bar, but on Tuesdays, you can catch intimate live performances from high quality solo acoustic solo musicians and duos. The sets began in mid-November 2020 thanks to interest from Russ Johnson, who co-owns the venue with his wife, Heather Johnson.
“Russ is super into live music,” explains Sail Away’s live music manager, Heather Getz. “He ran sound and did sound engineering when he was back in his college days, so he was already really interested in it and saw the space–even though it’s a small venue, there’s a nice space for our performers.”
The intimate space seats 49 people and while it can’t accommodate full bands, a high-quality sound system and a personally-invested owner means that musicians and listeners alike are treated to a quality experience, at what we here at the Pitch like to refer to as “grown-up hours.” This means the show starts at 5:30 p.m. and is over at 8:30 p.m. meaning you can come, catch a show, have a flatbread pizza and a glass or two, and be home with enough time to watch something on Netflix before bed.
“When [Russ] decided to do it, he wanted to do it right,” Getz continues. “He put in a really nice PA and speakers. The speakers are all in delayed time throughout the room so that everybody’s hearing the same thing at the same time and there’s speakers outside for people walking by and sitting outside when it’s nice.”
When Sail Away first started the program, music would be paired with the wines on feature at the time, with a flamenco guitarist for Spanish wines or a steel pan artist the month they did a tribute to the Caribbean they’ve decided to pull back from that.
“We’ve found that our average customers have gotten to know there’s gonna be live music and it’s gonna be good every Tuesday,” Getz says. “They’re paying more attention to the social aspect of it and knowing that we do this every Tuesday.”
While the performers are definitely cover-focused, taking on popular songs from the ’60s to today, originals are not out of the question, making Sail Away a surprising place to catch your next favorite artist.
“We want a laid-back and fun vibe,” Getz continues. “So we want music that matches the vibe of the venue.”
Pair it with the rather more loud fast rules aspect of the Rino across the street, and the Screenland movie theater just down the block, and North Kansas City is offering up some unique opportunities for a night out which isn’t the usual routine.
“Our audience and the clientele can vary day to day, night to night,” Getz says. “It just depends. Especially for music night, I feel like it’s a really interesting and solid mix of people that come in. We’ve got people that I see almost every Tuesday night for the live music that just come in primarily for that.”
Part of the appeal is that Sail Away is a self-service wine bar. If you’re familiar with Taps On Main and how they have a mind-boggling array of beers available, so does Sail Away do with wine.
“We’ve got 72 different unique wines on tap,” Getz offers. “They can get their little passport card printed that goes into the machines and they can you go to the sections. If I’m into sweet white wines, then I’m gonna walk to this section, and there’s about eight of them, and I can read little notes right there that describes what the tasting notes are like, and then if I just wanna get a quick little sample, I can do one ounce or they can do three ounces or five ounces.”
For people that aren’t especially into wine and maybe just there for the music, Getz points out that Sail Away has a decent selection of craft beer and a nice selection of whiskeys and bourbons on the wall.
“We’ve got some nice non-alcoholic options and the food’s great,” Getz enthuses as we wrap up. “If you’re not a wine drinker, it’s okay. If you’re coming in specifically ’cause you want to hear the music, whoever’s playing that night, we have something for everyone.”
Sail Away Wine’s upcoming concert schedule and their current wine selections can be found at their website.