Glenn Thomas Reimagines “Black Muddy River” To Commemorate Jerry Week

Article Contributed by Sideways Media | Published on Friday, August 7, 2020

Today, Nashville-by-way-of-New England singer/songwriter Glenn Thomas shares his version of The Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” to commemorate “Jerry Week.” “The beginning of August serves as a memorial for fans of the Dead,” says Mother Church Pew in the song’s premiere. “It marks both the birth and death of the band’s iconic frontman, Jerry Garcia—August 1st and 9th respectively. Sometimes called ‘Jerry Week,’ fans connect with their passion for the beloved artist not just by appreciating the Dead’s rich history, but also through creative expression. It’s not easy to stand out in a world full of Grateful Dead covers. It takes something sung from the heart to embrace the soul of the song, while giving it a life of its own. Thomas lets gentle, crisp acoustic guitar carry the melodies while building on the song’s inherent folk qualities with touches of dobro, mandolin, and strings. Full of reverence, it connects to the legacy of the Grateful Dead graced by the personal connection that pours from Thomas’s vocals.  With ingrained devotion, Thomas’s ‘Black Muddy River’ feels like it is being sung directly to Jerry Garcia—flowing with veneration from one artist to another.”

“Growing up in a musical family, I was listening to The Grateful Dead when I was really young, says Thomas. “American Beauty was among the few CDs I listened to on the bus ride to and from school. As a kid, I loved the songs and the vocal harmonies. As I got older and started playing guitar, their songs shifted into a rich musical landscape that has stayed with me and informed my own music ever since. ‘Black Muddy River’ is a later song in their catalogue, and lyrically a resonant, timeless reflection on life. The Grateful Dead are such a participatory band in the multitudes of ways their fans share in the music, even after Jerry’s passing. This is my interpretation of what is feel is one of their most beautiful songs.”


On May 15th, Thomas unveiled his beautiful new LP Reassure Me There’s A Window to praise from Billboard, PopMatters, Folk Radio UK, and more. “This album was a long time dream of mine,” recounts Thomas of the LP. The tracks on Reassure Me There’s A Window, which feature tight fingerpicking guitar-based tunes with introspective lyrics fleshed out with resonant string arrangements, all come from a deeply personal place, and the more Thomas played them for his audiences, the more he realized how much others could relate to them. Each song touches on personal truths and what it means to be human—what connects us and motivates us, as well as the struggles and difficult facts of life.

In each of the album’s 11 tracks, Thomas puts life and the human condition under the microscope in order to articulately observe the big questions with small details, paying careful attention to his understanding of himself and the seasonality of life. He has the ability to lyrically turn the world on its side and explain the human condition and its accompanying array of emotions from a beautifully unique perspective.

Thomas, who cut his teeth fronting Rhode Island rock outfit Wild Sun, has shared stages with bands like Langhorne Slim, The Wombats, and Blitzen Trapper. He began writing songs that didn't fit within the rock-centric framework and decided he would strike out on his own, stretching his creative muscles. The album was produced by Jordan Lehning (Rodney Crowell, Andrew Combs, Joshua Hedley); with its throwback flair, Reassure Me There's A Window is a lush, sweetly-arranged collection of articulate folk-tinged songs.


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