The Family Wash has been many things over the last 10 years or so: a bar, a clubhouse for wayward musicians, a magnet for overzealous Metro Codes enforcement, a refuge from the road. It’s a place to hear a new voice, perhaps making his or her on-stage debut. It’s a place to hear old favorites with resumes that include playing with some of the heaviest hitters — David Bowie, The Black Crowes, Bob Dylan, The Jayhawks — around. What’s more, it also serves what many think is the best (if the only?) shepherd’s pie in town.
The lead laundry man at the Wash is one Jamie Rubin. As with many folks who own their own businesses, Rubin wears a lot of hats. He takes care of the books. He tends bar. He plays arbitrator whenever there’s a rock trivia question to be answered. He also takes the stage every week with his rock ’n’ roll collective featuring some of the finest players in this or any other town.
“It’s called Carpetbaggers Local 615, and we play at the end of the night every Tuesday,” Rubin says. “We’ve got a rotating lineup of Pete Pulkrabek, Marc Pisapia, Paul Slivka, Chris Autry, Tyson Rogers, Reeves Gabrels, Goffrey Moore, Audley Freed, Tim Carroll, Eric Fritsch and Roy Agee, just to name a few. We’re trying to figure out how to make a record with all that are involved, something that speaks [to] the songs we play week in week out.”
Like many of the guitarists featured in this issue, Rubin took to the guitar at an early age.
“My first guitar was a Harmony folk guitar, which we had altered with a trapeze bridge so I could rock on the steel strings,” Rubin says. “The first song I learned was ‘Blackbird’ by The Beatles, and the riff to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love.’”
Rubin’s main axes these days are a 1966 Epiphone Texan acoustic and a 1953 Fender Telecaster that he notes “is not with me right now.” He’s able to salve some of that pain, he says, by playing the best “new” guitar he’s ever owned, a Reverend Manta Ray 390 Limited Edition which features three P-90 pickups. “It was given to me by the Reverend guys, whom I absolutely love,” says Rubin. His dream guitar? Another Telecaster.
Rubin says he can’t imagine a life — especially his own — without music. It’s part of why he opened the Wash in the first place, he says.
“Playing music and listening to music offers me the same thing. It’s the feeling of euphoria and The Unknown. It’s life and beauty. I knew by the time I was 6 or 7 years old that I had to do something with music. It just spoke to me.
“It’s not all that hard. Find a guitar that you connect with, and learn the songs that speak to you. And even if it seems like it takes an eternity, stay with it, and don’t quit!”