R.I.P. Ruby Room: Downtown Phoenix Music Venue Closing Tomorrow Night

This past weekend, the hipster dance peeps mourned the loss of Homme Lounge. Now it's the rock and indie crowd's turn to start shedding a few tears, as the Ruby Room Lounge is shutting down tomorrow night.

Rhonda Hampton, wife of Ruby Room owner Greg Riggins, announced the music venue's impending demise earlier today on her Facebook page.

Her epitaph was short and to the point: "the rumors are true. The Ruby is closing. :O( Tuesday night will be our last show. Hope to see you all there."

Said final gig will feature performances by a triumvariate of garage/surf rock bands, including The Linoleums and Tokyo's The Heiz.

Unfortunately, the closure obviously nixes a number of upcoming shows at the bar, some of which I was looking forward to seeing (including Mergence's CD release show on Friday and an appearance by Cali garage rock band The Spitting Cobras next week). Dance nights Obscura and An Elegant Chaos are now currently without a home as well.

Riggins is renowned for running the equally cool Emerald Lounge until its closure back in 2005. The red brick building that housed the rather infamous nightspot now houses a Pei Wei, Starbucks, and swanky drink joint SideBar. In 2007, he transformed the bar formerly known as Big Al's into the Ruby Room.

The news of Ruby Room's untimely passing has been spreading across Twitter and the Internets over the past couple hours, saddening more than a few local musicians and artists who hung out at the establishment.

I think local comedienne/humorist Jacki O. summed it up best in her response over on The Shizz with she stated: "what the what?!?!"

​Katherine Wing, the drummer for chick-punk band the Green Lady Killers (who goes by the nom de guerre "Cherry Bomb") is also a bit heartbroken.

"I'm totally bummed about the Ruby Room closing and it's added a really weird tone to my day. It was definitely our favorite spot to play in the PHX area," she says. "Greg has always been such a huge supporter of not only our band but of local music in general. It's a total blow to us down here in downtown. He's had to close two bars in the last five years."

I placed a couple calls to Riggins for some enlightenment on the closure, but haven't heard back as of this writing. It wouldn't be too shocking if it's because to lack of business.

While the Ruby Room was a sweet spot to grab a couple Stellas and watch some of the best rock and punk bands from throughout downtown music scene (ranging from the Minibosses and Fatigo to the Love Me Nots and the Necronauts), the place was kinda hindered by its location, in my honest opinion.

Don't get me wrong, the Ruby Room was quite rad and I attended a few memorable shows within its darkened confines over the past couple years. But it didn't help matters that it was situated in a somewhat hinky part of south downtown (or "SoDo" as some started shorthanding it) along a one-way strip of Central Avenue that some people occasionally had trouble finding.

So in a two-year timespan, CenPho will have lost the Brickhouse, Modified Arts, and OnePlace as major venues for both local and touring acts. Does that mean I'm ready to join music editor Martin Cizmar in a few verses of the "Downtown is Ovah" blues? Nah, not just yet, though I'm hoping that folks around these parts start opening cool music spots again instead of closing them.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.