Bidding an Icon a Fond Adieu
Hello again, my dear readers. I hope this issue finds you well and thawing out from some of the ridiculously cold temperatures that are going on outside my living room window as I write this. I’m iced in, coffee-ed up, and have something on my mind.
By the time you read this, the current location of The Family Wash will be closed. Don’t fear — it will reopen in a new space on Main Street as quickly as possible. But I can’t lie about it — I’m bumming a little.
In the years since it opened in 2002, proprietor Jamie Rubin has managed to create the coolest neighborhood bar in America right on the corner of Porter and Greenwood. It’s a bar, a venue, and a restaurant. It is all of these things and so much more. It’s a place that is built on creativity. One could say it’s a community center with cold beer and comfort food; our very own Regal Beagle, if you will. Weddings, birthday parties, church services, memorials — The Wash has hosted them all.
Jamie’s welcoming spirit, easy laugh, and never-ending enthusiasm are the ingredients that make The Family Wash what it is. He and his staff are responsible for its mellow magnificence. Each and every one of them bring something special to the table (pun intended).
As you know, I’m a bass player. I don’t know how many gigs I’ve played at The Wash, but it’s a lot. I ate a Shepherd’s Pie after each one, and every pie was great. As I think back over all those gigs, a few stand out that I’d like to share with you:
• Like the night I brought moonshine to a Keith Gattis gig
(at his request). The jug made several passes around
the stage, and by the end of the night, we’d become Pink
Floyd, Waylon Jennings, and AC/DC all rolled into
one. I swear it was really good — both the music and
• Or how about The Ornaments’ shows. Wow, what an
honor and a pleasure to play Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie
Brown Christmas every year and celebrate the holiday
spirit with so many people. In a word — joy! It’s just one
of the many traditions at The Family Wash.
• Then there was the night I joined former bandmates Joe
and Marc Pisapia for an impromptu set of Joe, Marc’s
Brother tunes. Who made this happen? Jamie.
• During one of many amazing Sons of Zevon gigs, I will
always remember with laughter singing Ted Nugent’s
“Cat Scratch Fever” and reciting his opening monologue
to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” from the classic,
Double Live Gonzo! Mom would be so proud.
• And how can I forget playing with Reeves Gabrels —
The Cure’s freakin’ guitar player — and Jamie?
I couldn’t keep up! Or what about the Monday night
residency with The Jack Silverman Ordeal? I’m still
trying to keep up.
The Wash is also fertile ground for dreaming up music projects. Case in point: The night that Audley Freed, Jen Gunderman, Joe and Marc Pisapia, and I cooked up the concept for “Breezy Point,” a project focusing on the Yacht Rock genre. We haven’t performed yet, but the set list exists on several Family Wash guest checks torn from a pad. It’s an amazing set list. We want to play the General Jackson.
I have a band called Hags-A-Nova. We play Bossa Nova music, which I love. Jamie and I were talking about this one night, and he said, “You should do it.” So I put a band of great musicians and singers together, and we did our first show at The Wash in 2005. That band exists because of Jamie.
I could go on forever, but I’m running out of space. All I really want to say is, “Thank You!” to Jamie Rubin and The Family Wash staff for providing such a wonderful place for so many years. I think I can speak for all of Nashville when I say we look forward to many, many more at your new location.