To Terrapin: Hartford, May 28, 1977
By Blair Jackson
And the whistle is screaming...
3 Disc Set
Whether or not the fabled spring tour of 1977 was, as many Dead Heads believe, the strongest Grateful Dead tour ever, it was unquestionably a magical time stuffed-to-overflowing with amazing shows. Say the word “Cornell” to any hardcore Head and it means one thing—the 5/8/77 show at Barton Hall on the august school’s campus. But there were numerous other stops on the tour that produced monster shows, as well, from the five-night run at the Palladium in New York, to the incredible Fox Theatre in Atlanta (5/19 was part of the two-show Dick’s Picks #29), to the two Florida shows—Lakeland and Pembroke Pines (Dick’s Picks #29 and Dick’s Picks #1, respectively)—Tuscaloosa, Richmond… the tour was a scorcher from beginning to end.
What was up? Well, by the spring of ’77, the Dead had been back on the road for nearly a year following their famous performing hiatus, so Mickey Hart was thoroughly re-integrated into the band, and the septet was hitting a new stride. There was a handful of great new songs being integrated into the repertoire, including Garcia and Hunter’s complex, epic “Terrapin Station” suite, Weir and John Barlow’s cool, off-kilter reggae tune “Estimated Prophet,” and Phil and Peter Monk’s rollicking “Passenger.” Those songs would form the core of the album that the Dead were recording in the winter of ’77 with producer Keith Olsen down in Los Angeles. Olsen was a sharp guy with good ears (as they say in the biz), and he worked the Dead hard in the studio, forcing them to play perhaps a bit more precisely than they were accustomed to. Now, one can endlessly debate whether the result of Olsen’s approach was ultimately an album that was a tad too precise—a criticism even the band leveled at Terrapin Station—but all the laboring over parts and arrangements in the studio seemed to have an extremely positive impact on how the band played live that spring.
Which brings us to Hartford, Connecticut on the night of May 28, 1977—the final night of this Tour for the Ages, and the source of our latest release, To Terrapin. You’d never know from listening to this show that the band had been on the road for more than a month and 25 previous concerts, because it has that sparkle and intensity the band only had when it was fresh, feelin’ good and in full exploration mode. From the rippin’ “Bertha” > “Good Lovin’” > “Sugaree” trifecta opening, through the spectacular second set sequence comprised of “Playing in the Band,” a brisk and buoyant “Terrapin,” a fantastic one-of-a-kind “Not Fade Away,” “Wharf Rat,” and the “Playing reprise.” Definitely the band at its best!
So, why put this out now? Why the hell not? And what’s with all the questions? Just enjoy it. OK, aside from it being a classic show worthy of release, we thought it might be fun to revisit a concert played in one of the venues The Dead are hitting this spring on their tour—that would be the Hartford Civic (now the XL Center) on 4/26/09… why, that’s the 31-year, 11-month, 2-day anniversary show of this epic ’77 show! Anyway, this three-disc complete show release has been lovingly mastered to HDCD specs from the original reel-to-reel tapes by Jeffrey Norman utilizing the usual array of mysterious black boxes and sonic tools unavailable to us mere mortals. Artist Scott McDougal, who’s done such a bang-up job for us on the Road Trips series, has designed a beautiful package, and the always erudite Gary Lambert has contributed a fine essay which is accompanied by glorious photos of the band in Hartford in 1977. And because we know that in these tough economic times everyone could use a bargain, we’re offering To Terrapin at the very low price of $17.98 for all pre-orders placed on dead.net before the April 7th release date. That’s $2 under the suggested retail price. For the complete track listing and ordering info, click here.
Saw the band eight times in 1977, my first year of really seeing some shows. Winterland 3/18,19,20 (a plane trip from New Orleans), and I've always wanted to hear a release from these shows -- 18th: first Scarlet/Fire, first SF Estimated, first SF Terrapin; 19th: Estimated in the first set followed by Terrapin>Playin'>Samson>Playin' (and then a much needed break); 20th: Estimated for the third night in a row, etc. etc. Double encores the second and third nights (with a Terrapin run-closer, the third Terrapin in three nights). And don't forget that only-ever Alhambra on the first Terrapin. Then it was to Tuscaloosa and back in one night, driving from NOLA, on 5/17 -- Scarlet/Fire to close a 14-song first set and Terrapin>Playin'>Drums>Wharf Rat> Playin' to end a 10-song second set. It was Bobby's birthday on 10/16 in the LSU Assembly Center (aka Pete's Palace [was there ever a more fun basketball player to watch than Pete Maravich?] with a 16:49 Sugaree in the first set and Scarlet/Fire to start the second. Second song from the end was Black Peter with maybe the all-time best outtro. The year ended (literally) with a plane trip from BRLA for 12/29, 30, 31 at Winterland -- 'nuf sed. After buying all of Dick's Picks, a lot of other releases including the first two Road Trips, and accumlating quite a few bootlegs, I decided I would spend my money only on releases that just couldn't be passed up and anything from 1977. Needles to say, I've got my order in for this one. Sometimes I just get out everything I already have from '77 and listen to it all again. Never a disappointment -- keep it coming.
Now it doesn't seem to be linking to anything. Was that the surprise?
I reckon the next Road Trips will be out of left field. WAY out of left field. Let's see.
Someone mentioned downloads - that's probably a good bet too. Something from the Egypt shows? Or one or both of the unreleased Sep 1990 shows? October 1977? How about a Summer 71?
The next Road Trips release should be from the long overdue Europe '81 or the Southern Run in late '78. And we need the July Red Rocks 1978. I don't care if it's not 'in the vault'. Somebody has it somewhere.
My guess for RTs 2.2 is something form the 90s. It seems they are going with the decade motif. It would be cool to see a compilation from the '91 Boston Garden run.
Maybe in time we should check the other planets.
I think this is a great release. Any guesses for RT Vol. 2 No. 2? I reckon something from 1988.
The Wikipedia article discusses the history of Easter Eggs, and has some listed. They don't have one of the Firefox ones, though - type "about:robots" in the address bar.
*The white zone is for loading and unloading only*
are things like that Saturn icon that do unexpected things when you discover and click on them.
I like how it says "surprises," plural, as in more than one. A new download? It's been a while. For some reason I think there will be a May '77 download. No real evidence for saying this, just a gut feeling. A new "Road Trips" release for sure; it's about that time. I can't imagine that they would release a new box set so close to a single show release.
I gotta ask: Mark, what are you referring to when you say "Easter Egg"?
Having just passed the anniversary of the first Terrapin 02-26-77 (San Bernardino) and the coming anniversary of the only "Alhambra" 03-18-77 (Winterland), this is a wonderful release. I only wonder if the Dead ever considered doing the whole suite. I am always on the look out for when Ratdog does the "At A Siding."
Can't wait for my show at the IZOD on 04-28-09!!!
Stay tuned for more surprises...
Hmmm, another Road Trips release? Something to do with the tour? Who knows?