Sound of Lexington

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Greg Austin and Mark Dennis
Live at Twisted Cork
September 14, 2019

Last Friday night I had a birthday party to go to.  The 70th birthday for my brother-in-law, Frank.  It was across town, a nice place with lots of family and children, and since it ended around 8pm I decided to see what was goin’ down at the Twisted Cork.

To my pleasant surprise, on their stage singing was the one-and-only Greg Austin on guitar and the one-and-only Mark Dennis beltin’ out some great harmonies with him. The crowd mostly mesmerized by their abilities with the songs pulling them into a good and happy place for a little while.  Well, all with the help of a sip or two.  That’s’ what you do at the Twisted Cork, a quaint little liquor store turned bar with live music! Located in a little side mall off of Clays Mill Road in Lexington, Kentucky.  You can find people in there most nights for some local music and always a friendly face. I was hoping to see Whitney Slone Adams there, the daughter of the proprietor, and a singer/songwriter and beautiful musician herself, but she was other places to be found that night.

I’d heard about Greg Austin from clear on the other side of town, in Austin City Saloon actually.  Together he and Dennis are a famous long-time duo in these parts.  They’ve been together since 1972 forming bands or singing just the two of them, and these days they never even practice but just meet up. That’s not apparent when you hear how well they flow together seamlessly from song to song. 

It was a beautiful evening out when this tall guy with the long hair, baseball cap and wearin’ 2 shirts and sunglasses was packing his guitar into the back of his truck right outside the front door.  I thought I’d get a chance to talk with Greg outside before he left for his next gig, but only was able to get a few words when another radio person came up talking to him.  He had just agreed to let me record him. Lol.

Greg can be found playing there every Monday evening and holidays like Halloween, Christmas Eve along with the occasional Friday’s.    My short interview didn’t get more than what I wrote.  He was closing the back of his truck then grabbing a CD gave it to her and I stood there and watched him leave.  Closed my empty hand, smiled and went inside.

And inside…. there was Mark Stephen Dennis, who his mother named after actor, Mark Stephens, an old movie star from long back.  On his way out the door with his wife on his arm, Mark said he didn’t want to talk to me, a reporter.  Can you believe that?  Well, neither he nor his wife could resist the love in me and eventually we sat down at a table to talk.  That’s the Love of God, ya’ll!  Mark insisted that I interview him right there on the spot, though I was asking him to come to an upcoming radio blog recording.  He turned around and asked why I was talking to him.  I started telling him about the Sound of Lexington website and then he said, “Now, you understand, I’m an old son-of-a bitch and I don’t really care about that too much.”  Then after a laugh almost like an inside joke with his wife, only better, turned again and asked if I still wanted to talk with him.  But of course!  

Mark told me about how he was brought up on folk, country and acoustic music and never really did rock when he was young.  He is a lover of all kinds of music and when he loves a song then he can grab onto it.  One of his most recent loves in music is Bohemian Rhapsody.  He developed a love for it after watching a documentary on Queen, and now wonders why he didn’t say back then when he was young, how great they really are. 

After just a few minutes talking with Dennis the same person from outside came up and started talking with him about her radio show, and I ended up talking mostly with his wife, as well as others at the place.  Everyone was enjoying the nice evening and I have to say these two guys pull in a friendly crowd who like to listen to their music!  Lol.  I do remember a conversation though about not buying his wife an opal ring though.  I think he wanted to but she didn’t want one, she was happy with what he bought.    

The whole evening was really nice and the place full of some very friendly people.  Momma Sue, the owner of the place, and Prentice, her husband running the place with Stacy at the bar.  I usually try to associate people’s names with things and the only thing I could think of for Stacy’s name was the girl who wanted to beat me up when I was in elementary school.  Lol  Stacy didn’t seem too amused when I said, “your not gonna beat me up, are you?”

I eventually got to talk with Dennis again and got to find out that he is a stroke survivor.  He’s doing remarkably well but talked about working through and getting past some problems while singing.  He explained how he has to close his eyes right now to concentrate on the words of the songs.  These song’s he’s sung for up to 40 years but now has to concentrate on the words, so he closes his eyes.  One thing he found out tonight was, when he would hear people singing off key in the crowd it really messed with his singing and threw him off.  It takes a moment to recover from that and says he didn’t have this problem before.  The practice will surely make him stronger, because we know there’s always someone singing off key in the crowd!  I’m saying a prayer for him to surpass this bump in the road right now.  He’s got a lot of love in his heart that comes right out through his voice to everyone around and it’s no wonder he is so loved by everyone wanting to talk with him! 

Mark Dennis vocals, Greg Austin vocals and guitar. Twisted Cork, Lexington, KY

I met some more nice new friends there that night too who I handed my card to, and I hope to hear from and see again!  I want to thank Momma Sue and Prentice for the hospitality and wish them and everyone there the best always! It was great to visit with you all and finally get to hear these two great guys, Greg Austin and Mark Dennis singing the great songs we all love so well!

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