ABGB co-owner and Austin music booker Mark Jensen dies at 53
Wednesday was a bittersweet day for the ABGB, the South Austin brewpub and pizza joint that has become one of the city's most beloved venues for local bands since opening in 2013. A packed house turned out for fiddler Warren Hood and his band, who resumed their Wednesday evening residency after more than a year off during the pandemic. But earlier that day, ABGB staffers learned that co-owner Mark Jensen had died of an apparent heart attack.
Jensen, who turned 53 in April, teamed with Jill Knobloch and Amos Lowe, with whom he'd grown up in Houston, and former Uncle Billy's brewer Brian Peters to open ABGB. He was in charge of booking music at the venue, which helped support the early rise of Austin indie band Sweet Spirit. Peters confirmed Jensen's death to the American-Statesman on Friday.
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Speaking by phone, Peters said Jensen had always loved music but had never previously booked a venue. "It was amazing how successful he was, given that he hadn't done it before," Peters said.
"This was a new venture for all of us," he continued. "We all were learning on the fly, but we knew the community. It's tough to start a venue from scratch and build a really good local vibe. He was able to do that."
ABGB quickly became a favorite place to play for many local musicians. "He always treated the bands with a lot of respect," Peters said. "He treated them like family and friends."
Local record label Nine Mile Records posted about their fondness for Jensen on social media: "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."
Some of Jensen's booking duties recently had been transferred to longtime sound man Paul Minor, who'll continue to book ABGB going forward, Peters said.
Survivors include Jensen's wife, Maria, and their twin sons.