Grateful Dead

Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5

Road Trips Series Ends with Boston ’76

1976 was a pivotal year for the Grateful Dead. After an 18-month hiatus that saw just four Bay Area appearances by the band, but also a phenomenal studio album, Blues for Allah, and a slew of solo projects, the Dead returned to the road at the beginning of June ’76. Mickey Hart was officially back in the fold after a long absence, and the band came back with a batch of new songs and fresh approaches to playing their old ones. It was the summer of America’s much-ballyhooed bicentennial, the country was still going through Watergate withdrawal, and we needed our Grateful Dead back!

During their time away, the Dead radically simplified their stage setup. They put their remarkable (but cumbersome) Wall of Sound P.A. out to pasture, in favor of a more conventional (but still great) system. And, as a treat to their fans, they booked their entire first post-hiatus tour into acoustically solid small theaters, eschewing the large arenas that their snowballing popularity and their massive sound system had forced them into. They hit the road well-rehearsed and refreshed; clearly thrilled to be out there playing Grateful Dead music onstage again. And we were, needless to say, psyched to be seeing them again!

This latest—and last—edition of our Road Trips series (more on that in a moment), ingeniously labeled Vol. 4 No. 5, was drawn from two shows early on what was dubbed by many Heads at the time as the Dead’s “comeback” tour. It contains the truly awe-inspiring complete June 9, 1976 Boston Music Hall show (just the third of the tour, but you’d never guess that), and also a handful of hot tracks from the June 12 show at the same venue. The 6/9 show has long been a personal favorite, so I’m really delighted that it is finally being released! It’s definitely one of the strongest of ’76.

The first set includes stand-out versions of then-new songs such as “Crazy Fingers” and “The Music Never Stopped,” just the third version of “Cassidy,” a neatly jammed “Scarlet Begonias” and a potent “Ship of Fools,” among other gems. The second set opens with a long, circuitous “St. Stephen” (the first in five years!), then goes into a tremendous “Eyes,” followed by “Let It Grow,” which was now independent of the first two parts of “Weather Report Suite.” “Samson and Delilah” and “Lazy Lightning” > “Supplication” were brand-new to the Dead repertoire, while the bevy of rearranged songs included “High Time” and the famous disco-influenced “Dancing in the Street.” The encore was another recent one: “Franklin’s Tower” (which would never be played in that slot again). For a band that hadn’t played together in eons, the Dead sound remarkably self-assured and on-the-ball throughout. The 6/12/76 songs include one of only five versions of “Mission in the Rain” the Dead played, “The Wheel” (a few years old, but new to the stage), the revived “Comes a Time” (last played in ’72) and a “Sugar Mag” sandwich with a great “U.S. Blues” as the meaty filling.

As with all the previous Road Trips releases, this final entry comes with a colorful booklet containing an essay and period photos. And needless to say it has been mastered to HDCD specs by Jeffrey Norman. You can find the complete song list for all three discs, as well as ordering information, by clicking here.

So, what’s all this talk about the end of Road Trips? Well, we figured that four years and 17 releases was a pretty good run for that series, and now it’s time to try something new. Don’t worry, there is definitely going to be another release program dedicated to putting out the best material in the vault. We’ll be revealing details of the new series very soon, so stay tuned!

— Blair Jackson


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Joined: Mar 18 2010
White Lightning

Of course I still want Dick's Picks- Is the White Album discontinued? Is Dark Side of the Moon out of print? Dick's Picks are some of the greatest albums of all time- They should be available for all time. First there was the Million Man March- Let us have the Million Deadhead March to bring back the entire Dick's Picks series. Grass roots people- spread the word- spread the love. Rise Up- The second coming of Dick's Picks is upon us!!!

Brad125's picture
Joined: Oct 12 2011
Last Choice? Really?

I for one, love 6-9-76.
But there are so many great copies in circulation... very surprised at this last DP's choice.

Joined: Jul 17 2007
All about the music

I don't care what format it's in, just keep releasing music!!

Is the JGB a long forgotten band?? It sure seems that way, absolutely no new releases and the word is that they aren't planning on anything new anytime soon......That is really depressing...

Joined: Mar 8 2009

Nothing of that sort has been communicated to me in my correspondences. The impression I've gotten is that the DPs will be available/re-stocked on this site.

I heard a rumor that some of the DPs might be re-mastered, too, but cannot comment further on that as I have no additional information on the subject.

I've said it before and will say it again. I will HAPPILY pay $25-30 for a DP through than the prices on ebay or Amazon. That's all added revenue for the Dead, Rhino, and whoever else gets paid with album sales. To me it makes sense for those who created and produced to music to get the money from its sale. While any band is a capitalist enterprise, and the Dead certainly have done a good job of selling their music, I think they've generally done so at a fair price and wouldn't want their fans to have to turn to a hyper-inflated re-sale market.

If they have to re-order their stock every year or two doesn't seem like too much of a burden, but I have no idea how the industry works. But that seems to make the most sense: set a hard inventory deadline - anything below a certain threshold, re-order; anything that's not let it ride until it is below the threshold. If something sells out 9 months before the next inventory date, at least fans know that more will be available in the future. >>The same goes for the Garcia material - Legion of Mary anyone? Yes, please. If only it were available.

I know that for most of these, folks can download FLACs if they want CD quality stuff, but I will always be a CD collector and want those. As are many in the Dead community, I suspect. Sure, I have lossless and lossy copies of all my music, but if something happens to them - hard drive dies, file corruption, etc. - it's easy to go back to the CDs and re-rip everything. For a band like the Dead I don't think CDs will go softly into that good night. (Of course augmenting CDs with downloads is certainly a good idea for those that don't care as much about owning the physical media.)

I guess the main point is that the demand is there, we just need to let those who make these decisions know that we, as fans, and mor importantly as consumers, still want these records. Perhaps if there was a "suggestion box" that went directly to TPTB or something would be helpful? Just spitballin' now, but you get the idea. There is a lot that could be done for this.

And totally unrelated - how come the band has not embraced the smartphone market yet? No iPhone/Android wallpapers, themes, etc? I would gladly pay $5 for a setlist database app. Maybe the guy over at can make one? Love that site....

Joined: Jun 23 2011
Packaging: greener and leaner

So far as the cardboard CD sleeves are greener and leaner, I'm all for them. Getting the discs in and out can be a bit stressful, but I've never experienced a scratch after REPEATED uses.'s picture
Joined: Nov 3 2007
Re Dick's Picks

Three Dick's Picks to be re-released

and yes the name of the label is Real Gone Music.

Lunchbox: you're welcome.

Joined: Mar 8 2009

Thanks for the link. I will certainly keep an eye on that. If that's the route the Dead and Co. choose to go, I hope that they make EVERYTHING available that they possibly can.

ecb's picture
Joined: Nov 3 2010
Dick's Picks ARE being re-issued!

OK, clearly people are not paying attention.

Last month, it was announced that the new re-issue label called Real Gone Music will begin redistributing The Dick's Picks series. On November 12, 2011, it will debut with 12 titles including three from Dick's Picks:

Dick's Picks 34 - Rochester, 11/5/1977
Dick's Picks 35 - San Diego, Chicago, Hollywood, 8/1971
Dick's Picks 36 - Philadelphia, 9/21/1972

See, Rhino / appear to be paying close attention to your requests! For details, check out this link:



Joined: Jun 20 2007
The Last One

I must say I was one of the most vocal critics of the 'Road Trips' idea but it has grown on me over the years and now I am sad to see it go. I was wrong, it was actually an excellent idea and it morphed over the years (as the creators began to understand it a bit more) into something really interesting. 1976 has, for the most part, always been my least favorite year (apart from 1983) even though my first tapes were several June 1976 shows (or partial shows). My good friend Jim completely turned my head around regarding the New Year's Eve 1976 show at the Cow Palace, it is a knockout! I think 'Dancing In The Streets' is what prevents me from swallowing this year whole. 'Mission In The Rain' is excellent too. I'll definitely give this show a listen, I've ALWAYS purchased official releases of shows I've already got since they are WITHOUT A DOUBT ALWAYS of better quality than trades/downloads. Thank you GDM/Rhino, can't wait for the newest and most exciting releases yet!

Joined: Jun 20 2007
Dick's Picks

Ed is absolutely correct, although I probably didn't need to say that, it's obvious to anyone that bothers to investigate. I remember wanting to get the quad February 1973 release from the Salt Palace and the other one and finding that it was no longer available from GDM and was going for hundreds of dollars on Amazon! Then a short time later, GDM was suddenly selling it again for close to twenty dollars, thereby cutting the rip-off-artists off at the knees (hooray!). Bought it straight away, thank you very much. There are only a couple DPs that I still need, I probably have 33-34 of them but have heard them all. Glad to hear they are still receiving the attention they deserve. Thank you!


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Road Trips Vol. 4 No. 5