Grateful Dead

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 before the April 7th release date. That’s $2 under the suggested retail price. For the complete track listing and ordering info, click here.


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leno710's picture
Joined: Jun 12 2007
Just a little off topic......

But does anyone have any real knowledge/info on the Jerry Garcia website (it's been down for quite some time now), or the status on the "Pure Jerry" vault releases? If so, I'd surely be interested in any info anyone can pass on, since the website ( has had the exact same message on it for many months now. Also, in regards to pre-ordering this official Grateful Dead release (To Terrapin: Hartford '77), do you get charged when you place your order or when your order ships in early April? If you get charged when you place your order initially wouldn't that mean that they (Rhino) is using pre-order funds to help pay for printing/manufacturing costs? Also, probably the only reason there is a $2 discount for pre-ordering is because there is no bonus disc this time around and no way of enticing potential customers of forking over their hard earned money early. Just my opinion. I definitely plan on ordering this release, just not until the first week of April.

Joined: Mar 2 2008
felt it in the new springtime vibes

something was cooking...CAN'T WAIT!!!!

Coconut Phil's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007

I'll wait for my copy to arrive, I know its going to be some solid jam. Please keep it coming, i'm ready for a big box set full of dynamic music.

Coconut Phil, living Free.

Joined: Aug 27 2008
A welcome addition ...

A Grateful thank you to all those who worked on getting this show out of the vault and released, you know who you are. And, of course, the Grateful Dead who produced this hot and wonderful music. It's a welcome addition to my collection. Yeah, I have a bootleg soundboard and an audience recordings of this show, but to show my gratitude, I must buy it. I pre-ordered it, so I can't wait until it arrives in my mail.
I just wish I had been able to attend this show, way back in the day ...

yamadog's picture
Joined: Jun 6 2007
Rhino has been less than

Rhino has been less than stellar with these releases,IE: bad disc's and poor customer support.Here is Rhino's chance to shine.with all the mistakes you have made since your first GDP release,You can hopefully get this one right.It is an awesome show,and i'm glad to see you are releasing more "Complete Shows".Although I have over 4,000 Sources of shows,I am always interested to see what you can do with your releases,Please Impress Me With This One.

(Cause There's An Easywind..Blowin' Cross The Bayou Today.)'s picture
Joined: Nov 3 2007
HDCD/Hartford '83

All the Dick's Picks from 15 on are HDCD as well as all the Road Trips multi track releases and all the reissues with bonus songs. I agree abourt Hartford '83 being good shows. In fact, both shows are high on my list for '83.

dstache's picture
Joined: Sep 10 2007
Fall 83

IMO, the oft-maligned Hartford October '83 shows are good shows from an underappreciated tour. The DP's show, 10/14, features one of my favorite Scarlet > Fires.

Joined: Feb 23 2009
hot shows in hartford

I've seen many shows in hartford,for some reason the boys allways played amazing shows there. except for 1983,but that whole tour blew.just one mans opinion.check out 5-10-80 that was my 1st show,7 songs going into drums, hot shit for sure.ive seen close to 200 since then.they closed the place down for a while.SNOWED SO HARD THAT THE ROOF CAVED friend is convinced that phils sub sonic bass lines affected the strctural integratey of the place.he went RPI for engineering,who knows,but the roof caved in a few weeks after that show,due to the weight of the snow on it.anyway 5-28-77 is another great show from hartford

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
thanks starman

I checked with my intrepid colleagues and they confirm that this is the case!

Joined: Feb 24 2009
re: Heavy & Tech Questions

Uakari, yeah, man! 5/5/77 is one amazing show. It's everywhere, but it's soooooo good.

dkramer173, yes HDCD will play in any CD player you have. All the multi-track vault releases are in HDCD. The 2-track Dick's Picks and Road Trip sets are not, I don't think.


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