End of an Era for the Monkey Wrench

After 12 years as a go-to spot for live music, the Monkey Wrench on Barret will shut down for good April 1. Dennie Humphrey made the surprise announcement today in a Facebook post filled with emotion.

“It’s with a big smile, bittersweet amazingness and a lot of pride I announce that in March, the month of our 12 year anniversary, Monkey Wrench is saying goodbye,” he wrote.

Dennie Humphrey at the Wrench two years ago
Dennie Humphrey at the Wrench two years ago. Rusty Satellite Show photo

In an interview, Humphrey said he made the decision after a lot of consideration, saying that it would take $150,000 to upgrade the facility to remain competitive as both a restaurant and nightspot.

“I’ve just been working too hard and not making a lot of money,” he said.

Back to the Facebook post, Humphrey wrote that he would be moving on to other endeavors. He’s one of the partners in The Taj, a NuLu bar that opened last year, and organizes two major music festivals.

“With the opening of The Taj and my small involvement in something new and fresh, I realize how much of the city and world I’m missing out on. I will be focusing my time on GonzoFest Louisville and Grateville Dead, both of which I’m extremely passionate about; as well as a new project around the corner.”

Humphrey said his partner in the business, Jay Brizendine, was in agreement on the decision to close.

But the business plans to go out in style, celebrating with a calendar filled with musical acts  with ties to the Wrench, including King Kong, Ray Rizzo and friends featuring The Java Men, Dr. Dundif and The Smoke Shop Kids/Lazy Sunday, Scott Carney and Friends/Matt Anthony & Woodrow on the Radio for one last Barret Ave Shake, Vessel, Hot Iron Skillet, Hot Brown Smackdown, Restless Leg String Band, Fat Box, KGB and Hog Operation. On April 1, the Wrench shuts down with a Grateful Dead Super Jam.

Throughout its recent history, Humphrey sought new ways to upgrade the operation as a restaurant. Two years ago, during an appearance on the Rusty Satellite Show, he talked about one of those partnerships, with Matthew Davis of Lil Cheezers.

Last May, the Wrench was packed as the location for Brandon Coan’s victory party when he won his Metro Council race.

Finally, let’s remember fondly this quirky TV commercial produced in 2011.