Brotherly Love in Nashville
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, October 12th, 2012
If you happen to find yourself in Nashville (a.k.a. Music City) there’s no doubt you will end up finding your way to Broadway and its multitude of honky tonks.
But if you want to hang at a favorite venue of the local Peace Corps crowd, you’ll want to head three blocks south of Broadway, along 4th Avenue.
That’s where you’ll find The Rutledge, one of the best live music venues in the city.
Over the years, The Rutledge has hosted the likes of Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, The Zac Brown Band and Emmy Lou Harris. But on several recent occasions, the doors have also been opened for fundraising events organized by the Tennessee RPCVs.
The Peace Corps connection comes via General Manager Andy Aquino, whose younger sister
Nerissa volunteered in Kiribati from 2001 – 2003.
“I was one of the first officers of the Tennessee group,” said Nerissa. ”We were looking for a venue to hold fundraising events and asked ourselves ‘who can we hit up for free or discounted space?’ ” That conversation soon led to Andy, which began the connection.
“(The Peace Corps) is a great cause,” said Andy, who we interviewed in spurts as he single-handedly tended bar for 75 RPCVs at a recent music fundraiser back in late June. ”Whenver my sister needs help, I help out whenever I can.”
The Rutledge has been the site for the annual fundraising event of the Tennessee RPCVs, who definitely place an emphasis on “fun”! In June, the group set up a photo space where people could dress up in various hats, masks and clothing for some truly entertaining pictures. Last year they hosted a female arm wrestling tournament! ”And always, there’s music,” said Nerissa. ”This is a music venue.”
There’s a clear caring and sense of fun between the Aquino siblings. Andy said when he learned his little sister was planning to join the Peace Corps, he thought it was a good idea. ”I told her whatever gets you out of the country and away from me…it’s a good thing,” he joked.
Nerissa said one added benefit of fundraisers at the Rutledge is that they have proved to be another way to connect with her brother as an adult. ”Andy’s got a great side to him. He has a Teddy Bear side to him. He’s a really nice guy.”
After Nerissa joined the Peace Corps, Andy also engaged in another form of overseas service, as part of a touring band for Armed Forces Entertainment – USO/DOD. His tour led to performances in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain and Spain. ”(Nerissa) was taking care of people, and we were taking care of the troops.”
And now, through this ongoing collaboration, the Aquinos, the Tennessee RPCVs and The Rutledge continue to take care of others. The June fundraiser took in $600 in donations to support Peace Corps Partnership projects organized by volunteers with Tennessee connections.
Thanks to Angie Harris and Emily Woodling for photographs for this post. Follow this link to see more photos from the June 22nd Tennessee RPCV Group fundraiser at The Rutledge.