A cowboy song befitting a man who drifted here and never left

A cowboy song befitting a man who drifted here and never left

By Jerri Rowe
News & Record, June 2014 | Listen to the song!

It’s a cowboy song for GSO. And it fits.

Jessica Mashburn and Evan Olson– better known as the duo AM rOdeO– wrote it to celebrate the 25th anniversary last week of Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, the upscale joint off Westover Terrace with the great fried chicken.

But really, the song celebrates the drifter from Missoula who rolled into town long before e-mail.

Well, that’s what the song says.

Click on it below and Check it out it for yourself.

It’s a tune about Dennis Quaintance.

You know, he’s the spunky idealist from Montana who came to GSO in 1978. He came into the city wearing cowboy boots and a sports jacket with leather patches to work at Franklin’s Off Friendly restaurant across from Guilford College.

He married a local girl named Nancy, a Cornell grad who worked at Franklin’s, and they ended up raising twins and becoming, as Dennis likes to say, “Mr. and Mrs. Hotel-Restaurant – Greensboro.’’

Nancy and Dennis helped create behind Lucky 32 as well as Green Valley Grill, O Henry Hotel, Printworks Bistro and Proximity Hotel.

And Dennis helped make Proximity the greenest hotel east of San Francisco by putting in a roof full of solar panels and creating North Carolina’s largest solar hot-water system.

Four years ago,Outside magazine called the Proximity one of the country’s top ecotravel getaways. Yeah, I call the Proximity the hybrid car of hotels.

But what began it all for Mr. and mrs. Hotel-Restaurant-Greensboro was Lucky 32. It was named after Dennis’ father, Laythol.

I know. Huh?

Well, Laythol — L.W. or Shorty — raced a ’46 Mercury with a flathead V8 on half-mile dirt track around northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. His car’s number? 32. And Dennis says when something good happens, he mutters “Lucky 32.’’

He also says “golly.” A lot. At least to me.

Anyway, Dennis likes music by Marty Robbins and Gene Autry. Jessica knows that. She does music programming for Dennis and Nancy and their businesses. And both Jessica and Evan had worked for them over the years.

Evan waited tables at Lucky 32 during his days 20 years ago traveling with the band Bus Stop up and down the East Coast and becoming almost famous.Bus Stop, a regional favorite, got so close to going bigtime.

Meanwhile, Jessica worked first as a server at Green Valley Grille and the Lucky 32 in north Raleigh as well as an event manager at O Henry. And today, Jessica and Evan play every Wednesday night at Print Works Bistro as AM ROdeO.

So, they know Dennis. They know Nancy. And with the 25th anniversary coming up, the two figured they’d give them a gift.

How? With a song.

They got the idea when they read the Lucky 32 newsletter and the comments from Dennis. Yeah, those comments were long. Then, they sat down at their house and got busy. Jessica and Evan wrote the lyrics, Evan wrote the music, and before last Thursday’s 25th anniversary celebration at Lucky 32, they recorded the tune in their home studio and e-mailed Dennis the tune.

Still why do all that? Says Jessica:

“He didn’t ask us to do it. But we saw it as our way of giving him a gift. People who paint give people paintings or things they have created, and since we’re musicians, we think of giving music as gifts.’’

The tune,“25 Years & Counting’’ was played over the sound system at last Thursday’s two celebrations at Lucky 32. And now, it’s permanently on the restaurant’s playlist.

Eat there anytime. You’ll hear it.

It’s a fun tune. Hummable, too. And love that twangy country guitar. But really, if you know Dennis, it fits. Check out the lyrics in the upper right box.

I read the lyrics. I listened to the tune. And I wondered.

What does Dennis think?

Jessica told me. She got an e-mail from Dennis right away.

Classic Dennis.

You and Evan,’’ he wrote, “can push me over a feather.’’

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