Dennie Humphrey is the face of The Monkey Wrench. The popular bar will close after April 1.

The Monkey Wrench, a longtime staple at the corner of Barret and Winter avenues, will close its doors after a final send-off on April 1, owner Dennie Humphrey says.

March marks the bar and eatery’s 12th anniversary. In addition to serving up libations and food, The Monkey Wrench emerged as a popular music venue, which, in recent years, focused on bluegrass and Americana, with a splash of bourbon. And, of course, it’s hard to imagine a more relaxing place to enjoy a drink than the rooftop garden on a warm day.

It’s not a sad thing to me, just bittersweet,” Humphrey says. “What an amazing run it has been.”

Last summer, Humphrey became involved with another Louisville bar, The Taj. He says The Monkey Wrench’s closure is due to that, and simply wanting to pursue other interests — he also is a founder of GonzoFest, which has grown steadily since its inception, and Grateville Dead, which seems to have a promising future. Humphrey also notes he will devote time to “a new project around the corner.” He declined to speak further about that topic.

His decision to close the business after a dozen years runs deeper than simply having other interests, however, according to Humphrey.

I realize how much of the city and world I’m missing out on,” he says. “I will be focusing my time on GonzoFest Louisville and Grateville Dead, both of which I’m extremely passionate about. I’m excited to dive deeper into the music of the city and do my best to show the world what Louisville has to offer.”

In other words, he’s not going anywhere: “In no way is this goodbye; it’s just a mere ‘catch you on the flip-side.'”

Humphrey himself is a memorable character who has become something of a local celebrity, with many tentacles into the local music scene and beyond. And anyone who spent time at “The Wrench,” as it’s lovingly called by regulars, knows Humphrey on a first-name basis.

The Monkey Wrench in its heyday.

The Monkey Wrench’s final day, Saturday, April 1, will be the culmination of several weeks of music that will provide a look back at the venue and a few reunions.

Acts expected to perform include Hog Operation, a Galoots reunion, King Kong, Ray Rizzo and friends featuring the Java Men, KGB and quite a few other acts that already are booked for the weeks leading up to the farewell.

“What else could a person have asked for the last 12 years of living his dream?” Humphrey says. “The opportunity to work with so many talented people over the years has been indescribable.”

Humphrey also lists numerous other artists who performed at The Monkey Wrench, not to mention co-workers and customers who helped make the place the popular spot it was. From Tyrone Cotton to Johnny Berry to the late Tim Krekel, the list is a long one indeed. And, of course, there were the regulars.

What an amazing run it has been,” Humphrey adds. “As I think back to all the great friendships made within these walls, my heart explodes with joy. I would just like to ask, if you’re in the area, stop in and give me a hug, because this time at The Wrench will truly be missed.”

Humphrey says the final show will involve a Grateville Dead “super jam.” He says a full calendar will be released soon.

Kevin Gibson covers everything from food to music to beer to bourbon. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). Check out his books, “Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft” and “Unique Eats & Eateries of Louisville,” among several others. He has won numerous awards for his work but doesn’t know where most of them are now. In his spare time, he plays in a band called the Uncommon Houseflies. Check out his website at kevingibsonwriter.com or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.


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