Local Filmmakers Shine Light On Unsung Blues Musician

. May 7, 2019.
Marshall “Big Jack” Reynolds
Photo Credit: John Rockwood

If you haven’t heard of Marshall “Big Jack” Reynolds, it’s understandable. There’s no Wikipedia page and a Google search doesn’t reveal much about the guy. But the new documentary, That’s A Good Way To Get to Heaven: The Music and Life of Big Jack Reynolds, aims to change that by showcasing some great reasons why this obscure bluesman should be remembered.

“Jack was a real deal blues player with a mysterious past, a dynamic temperament, a soft heart, and a mean harmonica,” said the film’s executive producer John Henry. “He never found national success in his lifetime. But his deep blues and tough songs made him a legend to roots music connoisseurs and an example to many up-and-coming musicians in the Detroit and Toledo areas. Jack’s story touched many, we owed him this project and he hopefully gets the recognition he deserves.”

A four year project

Work on the film took about four years, with Henry and his production partners Larry Gold, and Glenn Burris—who also directed the documentary—tracking down rare live footage of Big Jack Reynolds.

“This was a no budget show,” said Burris. “It took a long time to piece Jack’s mysterious story together. And it took time to locate the very few video recordings of Big Jack. Only about 90 minutes of video seems to exist of Jack’s entire career, including home movies, and not all of that is useful. So we really had to work to illustrate what is a lengthy and worthwhile story. The photographs taken by John Rockwood were essential.”

In addition to serving as president and CEO of the asset management firm OBS Financial, which was featured in Barron’s magazine as a national Top 100 advisory firm, Henry is also the founder of Third Street Cigar Records, a local blues label. Some of their releases, including ones from Bobby G. have charted on the Living Blues charts. The new album from Johnny Rawls has been nominated for Soul Blues Album of the Year at the 2019 National Blues Music Awards, which take place in Memphis on May 9.

Raw emotion and immediacy

“I like the raw emotion and immediacy of blues music, and that it serves as a foundation for all the other types of music that I enjoy,” said Burris, who owns the boutique production company E2HD.

At 80 minutes long, That’s A Good Way To Get To Heaven provides a thorough overview of this mysterious bluesman. For these three dedicated blues fans, the film is a personal triumph and they can’t wait for its world premiere at the Maumee Indoor Theater on Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m.

“This is the first Third Street film and the first collaboration between myself and the label,” said Burris. “I hope we can do more such projects, as this one was very rewarding, personally.”

“That’s A Good Way To Get To Heaven:
The Music and Life of Big Jack Reynolds”
premiers at the Maumee Indoor Theater, 601 Conant Street,
on Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m. $10.
A DVD/CD combo of the film will be for sale at the event.
For more info, visit BigJacksFacebook.com.