Beloved ABGB Owner Mark Jensen Has Died

About all that the once mighty music scene in Austin, TX has left to cling to are the handful of holdout venues and their brave and enterprising owners that in spite of all the adversity, the sacrifice they must suffer, and the odds they must overcome, they do it anyway, because they believe in the music and the community that springs from it. And whatever that calls for and no matter how bleak things may appear, they persevere.

That embodies the heart that ABGB owner Mark Jensen exemplified during his too-short stint raging against the dying of the light, and doing his part to make sure the spirit of Austin music wasn’t doused on his watch. In a previous life he was a copywriter for an advertising agency in New York City. But he found an escape through the music and brews he’d imbibe in during his time off, and soon hatched a plan to move to Austin to start a brew pub and music venue. Many cook up such schemes in the boring moments slaving away at their mundane jobs. Mark Jensen hauled off and did it.

Having attended South by Southwest and ACL Fest for years, Mark finally moved to Austin in 2013 and opened the ABGB (short for Austin Beer Garden and Brewing) with brewery maestros Brian “Swifty” Peters and Amos Lowe right at the dogleg of Oltorf Street in South Austin, about a block from where it dumps into South Lamar.

The timing was good, because that area would blow up in the coming years, partly due to the anchor of The ABGB. They put pizza on the menu and started booking local bands of all genres, and soon it was a staple of the community born from the good vibes the place put out, and Mark Jensen’s insistence to always put people first, often collaborating with local non profits on all sorts of endeavors.

“We are so saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Jensen,” says the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians after learning of Mark’s passing on Wednesday, June 9th. “Mark has been a longtime champion of HAAM, Austin musicians and local area nonprofits. He brought that passion to The ABGB where he helped create a culture of giving back to local causes and supporting the Austin music community. Our hearts are with his family, friends, the ABGB crew, musicians who had the privilege to play the ABGB, and the countless number of people whose lives Mark touched, without them even realizing it.”

That’s the thing: Mark wasn’t one of these dudes running around town doing good deeds only for the accolades. He was just a good dude, doing right by musicians especially, who after the news began to spread of his passing, stepped up in droves to offer their thoughts and condolences, including Teri Joyce, Doug Strahan, Beth Chrisman, Tomar and the FC’s, and many more.

“Mark’s recipe was simple: instead of treating musicians as a resource to be exploited, he approached them as he did his other passionate causes (Barton Springs, Austin shelter animals, his beloved Zilker neighborhood, and so many more) as unique Austin resources to be nurtured,” said record label Nine Mile at the news of his passing. “His immense generosity toward every single musician who played that stage was well known around town, and a gig at ABGB meant, not only generous hospitality and a fair payday, but something much more precious: respect.”

Along with being a kickass music venue, ABGB is an award-winning brew pub, winning the Great American Beer Festival Brewpub Of The Year in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Tomar and the FC’s show Saturday night (6-12) at ABGB will be a big remembrance for Mark Jensen. No word at the moment of other events or services planned. No word just yet either how Jensen passed.

Mark Jensen is survived by his wife Maria Mack Jensen and twin young boys Waylon Mack Jensen and Wyatt William Jensen. More information when it becomes available.

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