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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Captain Stormfield's picture
Joined: Nov 4 2007
Great stuff y'all!

May '77 is EXTRA hot! Gotta love it. I only wish I could get it sooner than April. Now, how 'bout that elusive JGB release?

DEADPHR3D's picture
Joined: Jun 8 2007
Hard Times and Hard Cash

I just wanted to thank you all ! Not only is this a off the hook show , you guys have done a great thing letting us get it for such a bargin rate. Look at this : 3 cd's , awsome artwork and the ever so popular liner notes all for $20.00 (just pennies over with standard shipping ) that's like $6.66 a disc! Once again hats off to you all at Dead Central for such a super deal ! I may have to buy a couple just for gifts ! Thanks to all involved !

gratefuldaddy's picture
Joined: Jun 8 2007
Only one complaint

Really, only one. Why can't any of these recent releases have download only options? I don't want the CDs, I don't want the little cardboard sleeves with all the scratch and glue problems (have experienced them firsthand), I just want the music. And I definitely want this one. I'm only guessing here, but I think less people would obtain the music illegally (friends, torrent sites, etc.) and buy the downloads if they were available at a reduced price. I'd gladly spend $15 for a 3-disc, full concert download.

richthephotog's picture
Joined: Jun 20 2007
I guess I'll get it...

At least this is comparable to the ticket prices back then. Lets hope they don't try and charge us over $100 to get copies of the shows from the 2009 tour!

Joined: Feb 24 2009
Yee-Haw - More '77!!

I'm so excited about this one. Spring of '77 was a hot tour. You guys should just release all the shows! Also, I know the Brent era was hit and miss -- but we could use a few more full-length Brent shows.

--daemian--'s picture
Joined: Jul 21 2008
for the record, DP#1 is not

for the record, DP#1 is not 1977, as everyone here probably knows off hand. Not sure why the opening paragraphs said it was.

DedButt's picture
Joined: Sep 15 2008

Hey Dedbutt - Please tell me that's a woman's butt. I like it & just want to make sure it everything its cracked up to be.

You crack me up.

You wouldn't want mine up there. Yes, actually, it's a Playboy bunny's from a centerfold. Miss August, 70, to be precise.

draindude's picture
Joined: Sep 25 2008
Sounds Grateful to me

That should hold me over till May at Shoreline see ya there!

Sunshine-daydream1951's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007

listening to show now, awesome Sugaree in set 1

the PITB ain't too shabby either


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Spanish Jam

Joined: Jul 12 2007
Pre Ordered

Awesome, oh how I love May 77. I can't wait to hear what Norman does with this.

I love the Road Trips also so keep em coming. A May 70 Acoustic set or anything from June 74 will work fine. Thank you.


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