Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1977

#deadfreaksunite 1977
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977]

2/26/77 san bernardino: 1st dead show under a democratic administration since the day the band allegedly dosed hugh hefner. 1977 opens with debut of TERRAPIN STATION (properly, LADY WITH A FAN/TERRAPIN STATION). brisk & slightly rough &, like, pretty epic. debut, too, of weir’s fully-formed 7/8 space-reggae jam-piece, ESTIMATED PROPHET. globs of garcia mu-tron & godchaux synth-clav color. maybe it’s the mix or all the harmonics thrown into SUGAREE, but weir seems to have new effects/compression on his guitar, too. misterioso garcia thrills, assertive piano, & a sea of cymbals lead glorious drift in 25 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. SLIPKNOT shortening & loosening, drama lessening. would love a chart of garcia’s most frequently mangled couplets in FRANKLIN’S TOWER. EYES OF THE WORLD shifts into 2 minutes of just phil, keith, & drummers. big bass chords & quick sparkling dissolve to DANCING IN THE STREET.  AROUND & AROUND features full weir/donna shriek out & 1st signs of weir’s falsetto post-show “thank you!” squeak.

2/27/77 santa barbara: sunday night boogie in a college gym, surviving as solid audience tape by rob bertrando. ESTIMATED PROPHET played again (& at most ’77 shows), garcia embracing gnarly guitar-is-talkin’-to-me auto-wah. cooly aching PEGGY-O. GOOD LOVIN’ moves to 1st set, loses jams & vitality. last SCARLET BEGONIAS before discovery of FIRE. donna moans, jerry fractals. w00! 2nd set suite begins with ST. STEPHEN, pleasantly without NOT FADE AWAY inside for 1st time since june. NOT FADE AWAY follows anyway. post-DRUMZ garcia twofer: 2nd TERRAPIN STATION with glorious, building 1st MORNING DEW of the year as epilogue.

3/18/77 winterland: opener of 1st multi-night winterland run since 10/74. ’77 mojo almost in place, 3 major new songs on display. 1st gloriously sprawling ’77 SUGAREE, almost 15 minutes. l’il dead air but much flow, piano color, & garcia’s 1st use of effects on the song. dampened SCARLET BEGONIAS into 1st FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. no intro solo yet, dynamics TK, but big ending. an instant 2-chord jam standard. bill graham apparently hosted a giveaway quiz show at setbreak, which sounds like a very good or very bad improv comedy set-up. TERRAPIN STATION (garcia’s last prog tune?) with sole live AT A SIDING coda, instrumental only. a mystic destination, sadly abandoned. 10 minutes into 20 minute NOT FADE AWAY, garcia & mu-tron find new path to big peak. vocal ending flows into graceful ST. STEPHEN.

3/19/77 winterland: night 2 of 3. BERTHA opener still growing into new blocky & less swingin’ rhythm, keith finding piano corners. unusually heady close to long 1st set, 50m of ESTIMATED PROPHET, TERRAPIN STATION / PLAYING IN THE BAND > SAMSON & DELILAH > PLAYING. garcia sounds fully inside TERRAPIN STATION lyrics. elegant piano & panic inducing tape flutters. 1st next-beat segue into PLAYING. momentum, space, & patience with ideas from all on both sides of great 31m PLAYING/SAMSON/PLAYING segue, especially drawn-out reprise. grace & compelling music within, but 48m EYES OF THE WORLD > DANCING IN THE STREET > WHARF RAT > FRANKLIN’S TOWER feels scattershot. feels like they forgot how to jam on EYES, drummers staying static while other 4 go wild, but retreating & dissolving just as quickly. laser guitar bulletpoints on DANCING much more successful, ditto full force UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore, 2nd in 2 shows.

3/20/77 winterland: sunday night dead. technically the 1st spring ’77 show. a few stunning spots, but mostly just very good. 1st BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE since 9/75, in fine shape, only song played from jug band era thru nearly the end. only ’77 version. last standalone SCARLET BEGONIAS, 13 minutes & wondrous. keith on synth for 1st time as garcia scouts new valleys. sublime inventive peak. faster than usual ROW JIMMY has more magnificently lyrical than usual solo & piano counterpoint, earning audible cheer on soundboard. after 10 locked in minutes, THE OTHER ONE breaks into another 5 minutes of almost entirely solo garcia, spinning threads out in space. on the other hand, the synth definitely doesn’t work on STELLA BLUE. 1st TERRAPIN STATION encore. satisfying!

4/22/77 philadelphia: spring tour ’77 opens! before the show, keith haring sells his bootleg dead t-shirts in the parking lot. despite dropped lyrics by garcia (an increasingly common occurrence), magnificent 10 minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP with big rippling crests. purposeful 21-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND to close 1st set. stays busy with cool double-drumming, mini-pockets, far-out synth colors. 2nd SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, a conversational & wide open path, rare song designed to be only jammed into. donna chants “fire! fire!” semi-off-mic during shift into FIRE. still 2 verses, lyrics jumbled or unfinished, tangible sense of play. great 20 minute DANCING IN THE STREET with long-unfurling ribbons of neon garcia but for some reason weir sings GOT MY MOJO WORKING. nope. nice garcia pair of THE WHEEL > TERRAPIN STATION to close encoreless show, latter with goofy 8-bit sounding polymoog.

4/23/77 springfield, MA: haven’t done the math, but tuning breaks seem to be getting longer in ’77. weir teases BLACKBIRD during one. no jam in CASSIDY yet, but garcia finds multiple cool turns in 48s solo. hadn’t noticed it missing, but 1st ME & MY UNCLE since 6/75. one big story of the tour is the arrival of keith godchaux’s polymoog synth, almost as big a change as having 2 drummers again. polymoog shows up on LOSER, SUGAREE, & other older tunes, sometimes a bit awkwardly. surf-like on ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. synth sounds better on newer songs, like break in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED & semi-drones in SLIPKNOT with cool garcia response. speedy SCARLET BEGONIAS takes quiet way into FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, wordless donna jean sounding more like patti smith than karen dalton. FIRE & ESTIMATED PROPHET are A+ platforms for almost-comprehensible garcia guitar chatter, ready for subtitling by acidhead linguists. huge FRANKLIN’S TOWER melts very briefly to audience tape at 1st peak, fun trompe l’oeil-like moment.

4/25/77 passaic: 1st of 3 nights at the *other* capitol theater. garcia’s vocals sound great everywhere, SHIP OF FOOLS especially. though mickey hart’s been playing it since 6/76, SCARLET BEGONIAS has completed transition from delicate groove to tom-tom thunder. could be the mix, but FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN feeling a mite sluggish, even as garcia’s solos hone in on his steel drum vibe. unlike FIRE (where garcia hasn’t sung a full 2nd verse yet; will notify when he does), he’s got the TERRAPIN STATION narrative down. small window of phil/garcia/billy free improv kicks in PLAYING IN THE BAND, weir disappearing for stretches, defaulting into DRUMZ. 16 minute WHARF RAT has most thoughtful jam of show, 6 minutes of weaving that might not go back into PLAYING but inevitably does.
4/26

4/26/77 passaic: crappy audience tape early on followed by great multi-camera footage of entire 2nd set & more. video has multiple revelations. one is that the stage lights go off during the long-ass tuning breaks. was that standard in ’77? garcia is at nearly Full Muppet (© @thoughtsonthedead), esp. during DEAL & ESTIMATED PROPHET, all animated eyebrows. very present. i think there are more shots of keith godchaux than all other 1972-1978 videos combined. but also the audience is sitting during DEAL? detailed jam in 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET unfolds to slow rolling garcia slide guitar, chill marching drums, & perfect dancing piano. nicely liquid & sweet tempo’d EYES OF THE WORLD in post-DRUMZ slot breezes into space until drummers cut it off with SAMSON & DELILAH. great set, way fun to watch the musicians work throughout, especially the quiet drama of rare standalone STELLA BLUE.

4/27/77 passaic: last of 3 at the capitol & another remarkable multi-cam closed-circuit video. but why is the front row sitting?! again, could be the mix, but i think the tom-toms have finally overrun whatever sustained delicacy was left in LOOKS LIKE RAIN. godchaux still learning to drive his polymoog, sounding a little clumsy on ROW JIMMY & definitely more stiff than his piano playing. nifty laser beam pitch-bending by keith on ESTIMATED PROPHET. guitar solo seems about to turn jammy until weir cuts it off. band seems a little, um, *up* for set 2, especially. SCARLET BEGONIAS so brisk that garcia is almost shouting. same on RAMBLE ON ROSE. amazing to see full video of a ’77 SCARLET > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, garcia almost dancing, looking as exuberant & blissed as the jam. economic 16 minute SCARLET > FIRE, with 1st lesh-led segue into GOOD LOVIN’. too soon, but successful upshift give or take a brief stutter. TERRAPIN STATION requires something with gravitas to follow it. a jam? silence? here, a heavy MORNING DEW. works.

4/29/77 the palladium: the dead begin a manhattan residency in the spring of punk. just like before europe ’72, the dead take up for 5 shows at NYC’s old academy of music on 14th street. tight 29-minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER is perfect opener. short rich SLIPKNOT! that doesn’t delve far. during FRANKLIN’S, someone (on the audience tape, i think, but can’t be sure) rings a bell at the appropriate lyric. excellent swirl. fierce set-closing MUSIC NEVER STOPPED with rolling drawn-out peak. SUGAREE has backchannel drumz jam going on behind garcia’s solo. most of the show exists only as a muddy audience tape by jerry moore, except for 3 as filler on download series. SCARLET BEGONIAS takes bright CHINA/RIDER-like turn, veering into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, its last non-FIRE destination for a year. back to audience for NOT FADE AWAY jam, short bass solo, musical dissent, DRUMZ, & moar jerry: THE WHEEL decelerating into WHARF RAT. i sometimes wonder if any of the CBGB regulars made it into any of the palladium gigs & what they thought.

4/30/77 the palladium: crystal clear soundboard reveals highs & lows of godchaux’s polymoog on opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. for 1st time, weir pairs two country songs with a next-beat segue, in this case MAMA TRIED > ME & MY UNCLE, a favorite trick thru ’95. excellent 1st set jerry in PEGGY-O (getting less spare by the show) & another multi-peaked & mighty MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. rare phil setbreak banter sighting: “thanks, folks, we’re gonna take a short break. y’all can do whatever you want to.” SCARLET BEGONIAS methodically climbs to a more leisurely FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. another quick dive to GOOD LOVIN’, a new norm.
in NOT FADE AWAY, weir heads for DANCING IN THE STREET, but garcia goes weird, keith gets noisy, drummers go off auto-pilot, & woooo. they land in a gently rushed STELLA BLUE, building back to ST. STEPHEN, band thrashing on riff until they finally find reentry point. encore is TERRAPIN STATION’s NYC debut, getting big cheers when then song starts, as if everybody knows it already.

5/1/77 the palladium: granted, i don’t listen to many audience tapes, but the 1st “freebird!” i’ve heard so far, just before CASSIDY. debut of donna jean godchaux’s 1st dead tune, SUNRISE. i actually like the tune, but also an energy drain midway into a dead set. developed & multi-chorused BEER BARREL POLKA because “billy had to catch the late flight to acapulco,” if you needed a new euphemism. solid 45-minute 2nd set jam suite (PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME > PLAYING) fits perfectly on tape side. as so often in ’77, PLAYING & THE OTHER ONE are good but unadventurous & COMES A TIME is just jaw-dropping (with dramatic outro jam). sweet, confident BROKEDOWN PALACE encore, 1st since 10/74 & 1st with donna. smooth mid-tune polymoog switch by keith.

5/3/77 the palladium: tape flutter on soundboard adds analog nostalgia to slow jerry tunes like ROW JIMMY, PEGGY-O, & SHIP OF FOOLS. welcome return of JACK STRAW, 1st since 10/74 & 1st with donna taking over phil’s part. not as sharp as it’ll get, but sounding good. really digging these semi-regular blocks of 2nd set garcia, tonight FRIEND OF THE DEVIL & then 26-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT. EYES on-point from the start, wonderful jerry vocal & short jam that opens into cool refreshing passage of almost totally solo garcia. last pre-cornell NOT FADE AWAY arrives at brightness by end. multiple voices shouting for TERRAPIN before encore.

5/4/77 the palladium: last of 5 nights in NYC & ready for the tour proper. big jams & nice soundboard with tuning breaks edited out. another typically dazzling MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP flows into BIG RIVER, less a segue than a pick-up, but a logical & lovely pairing. mixed properly (ie. very low), mickey’s SCARLET BEGONIAS cowbell almost sounds delicate, a little chaotic web for garcia’s guitar. great filler/oldie-free 2nd set, capped by TERRAPIN STATION & thorough, winding 37-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > COMES A TIME > PLAYING. drummers have to reset groove when COMES A TIME hits 1st change, but a real stunner with patient PLAYING reprise.

5/5/77 new haven: on the 12th anniversary of the warlocks’ 1st show at magoo’s pizza parlor, the sleeper of spring ’77′s big 4. wonderful 15 minute SUGAREE rolls from big noodle peak back down to quiet noodle canyon, like a hippie-jam version of terry riley’s “in c.” weir continues to establish his 1st set C&W double-slot, this time MAMA TRIED/EL PASO. PEGGY-O a showcase for weir’s guitar curlicues. garcia clearly ready to go out on ESTIMATED PROPHET, continuing to solo under weir’s final “nah nah”s instead of reverting to changes. some days, i prefer this SCARLET BEGONIAS to the cornell version, the jam getting more detailed & further afield before the climb. FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is a bit sleepier. nice shimmering fade on ending theme with a logical but magic-snuffing segue into GOOD LOVIN’. only standalone ST. STEPHEN of tour. ecstatic garcia riffage, lots of weir in the mix (here & for whole show), & mild TRUCKIN’ themes. opening with PROMISED LAND & encoring with JOHNNY B. GOODE, the dead continue to pledge allegiance to chuck berry.

5/7/77 boston garden: a classic & early high-rotation tape for me. everything smokes. tuning breaks edited for official release. thx! rare to hear keith godchaux as conversational, from BERTHA opener on. still only 45 seconds, but cuz of keith, CASSIDY solo is now a jam. quality weir banter, wishing kreutzmann happy birthday when it’s actually his birthday for once. rare on-mic appearance by mickey. great color/shapes by weir & cool interplay with keith on enormous 12:30-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP with extended ending jam. HALF-STEP so good that it buries keith’s switch midway to globby (but creatively played) polymoog. easy conceptual fade to BIG RIVER. 2nd set opening TERRAPIN STATION is at full glow, keith finding cool new piano spaces even in the relatively static (so far) outro. hey, keith’s dubby percussive polymoog on ESTIMATED PROPHET is way boss, too. somehow didn’t realize he was the tape’s secret hero. lesh sets tone on 11m EYES OF THE WORLD with big bass lead in intro. never a dull moment, all clearly listening hard to each other. perfectly patient post-DRUMZ build to THE WHEEL with equally great exit, very out for ’77. more lit keith & stretches of solo jerry. another reason i love this show (especially in the tape era): no songs i’d skip until set-closing AROUND & AROUND.

5/8/77 cornell: and here we are. took me a long time to accept this show/era as magical. the dead at their most normal. far out! all the songs just bop along, dependable & solid, with great singing/energy/dynamics, etc., somehow both intimate/close & enormous. i was shocked to eventually discover barton hall is a field house. i’d envisioned a lecture hall based on crowd on the soundboard. another way to dig godchaux’s polymoog on LOSER & other garcia songs: as stylized soundtrack to ’70s sci-fi westerns, maybe italian? as sweet as this ROW JIMMY is (& it’s sweet!), the polymoog & mickey’s pronounced backbeat keep me from liking it more than the ’73s. 16 minute DANCING IN THE STREET doesn’t go anywhere in particular, just grooves while garcia runs delicious riffs thru his mu-tron pedal. whether the best or not, surely the definitive SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. perfect & triumphant with effortless flow. delirious bass slides fire SCARLET & godchaux’s WTF harmonized piano riff unfolds throughout jam, only time that happened, i think. for 1st time, garcia gets all but 1 line in FIRE! while gorgeous, the solos never felt transcendent to me. heresy! still THE version. all-time peaks in 16 minute NOT FADE AWAY & 14 minute MORNING DEW. stunning fluid double drumming on DEW peak. also: jerrrrrry! [i also wrote a long review about the may '77: get shown the light box set.]

5/9/77 buffalo: another flawless night. @samgustin calls set 1 “the 3rd set of 5/8,” with no repeats from the evening before. promoted by future miramax magnates bob & harvey weinstein, who perhaps ripped the dead off. increasingly rare & magnificent HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER to open. rad, weird chord colors from weir in ace SLIPKNOT. 2nd set opens with 1st of many BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ pairings. really not a fan of the latter’s jamless post-’76 versions. just an oldie. thrillingly, ESTIMATED PROPHET cracks open for 1st time, floating away from 7/8 time on expanded garcia phrases & out into jam space. fun-filled 42 minute jam sequence of ESTIMATED > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > COMES A TIME, getting even better post-DRUMZ. NOT FADE AWAY is as bright as night before & gets weirder as it winds into COMES A TIME, which is capped by peak lyrical garcia solo. unusually, garcia leads transition into SUGAR MAGNOLIA & it’s so gradual that it restores some chillness to the tune.

5/11/77 st. paul: little delights throughout the 1st set, including squiggly new places in RAMBLE ON ROSE & even LOOKS LIKE RAIN. masterful 13 minute big/small/big SUGAREE. good mix for digging weir’s oddball upper register non-reggae rhythms on ESTIMATED PROPHET. great singin’ on both SCARLET BEGONIAS & FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. seam-exposing transition & laidback FIRE until tumbling last solo. 1st non-encore UNCLE JOHN’S BAND since 10/74. 15m with questy jam, drummers moving into quiet with garcia. then, wondrous solo jerry. give or take the polymoog burp-drone organ, a flawless BROKEDOWN PALACE encore, jerry in perfect voice. (st. paul was also one of the shows where keith haring sold his bootleg dead t-shirts. read more in my book heads.)

5/12/77 chicago: 1st of 2 at creatively named auditorium theatre. great, of course, but comparably few eye-bulging moments. off-mic, mickey exhorts bobby to deliver “seatbelt” joke about venue’s balcony. to billy (presumably) “he didn’t deliver it right.” 55 minute 2nd set jam suite: TERRAPIN STATION / PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > COMES A TIME > PLAYING IN THE BAND. PLAYING is pretty static, but NOT FADE AWAY dazzles for last 4 minutes, effortless head jazz flow carrying especially to PLAYING’s ending. every ’77 COMES A TIME should be a national holiday. garcia’s voice is some kind of astonishing here. his solo, too.

5/13/77 chicago: 1st JACK-A-ROE, radical folk about male-presenting sailor. jaunty! garcia gets all the words. 1st set ending SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN transition breaks down to drums/bass. uncharacteristically jambandy. mellow FIRE. 16 minute OTHER ONE long/wild for ’77. loud spiraling garcia with few sprung clock mini jams & another quiet, gorgeous solo jerry valley. final STELLA BLUE solo perfect & so very patient, surprise landing at semi-rare GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD.

5/15/77 st. louis: 2 more debuts, 1 soon-familiar pairing, 1 fresh tuning move, & no hometown chuck berry covers on a sunday special. 1st PASSENGER, by lesh/peter monk, sung by bobby/donna. big energy & garcia slide. maybe lesh’s most structurally simple/direct song? after PASSENGER, a hot 3m, mickey off-mic to weir: “we gotta let the end of that cook longer!” 1st FUNICULI FUNNICULA tuning jam. 19 minute DANCING IN THE STREET 1st set closer goes further than much-loved 5/8 version, hitting assertive 2 guitar tangle mid-jam. set 2 jumps right into 35m ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SAMSON & DELILAH. 1st ESTIMATED/EYES, norm ’til late ’80s. ESTIMATED only breaks free of 7/8 briefly, but good drama. EYES takes its time. flowing bass intro & short well-developed outro. ST. STEPHEN veers into NOT FADE AWAY as usual, but garcia & co. sing IKO IKO atop it before singing NFA. fun but half-baked. 10 minute NOT FADE AWAY defaults to boogie & gets interesting & way cool for last 2m before weir starts SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

5/17/77 tuscaloosa: 1st show in alabama. could be recording, but amped up. phil no longer sings, but mucho surliness both off/on mic. noir-shuffle on JACK-A-ROE, like never-ending tour dylan. PASSENGER doesn’t jam (& won’t, really), but great underrated set addition. 1st HIGH TIME since 9/76 tour opener, sounding only slightly tentative at the start. happily/unexpectedly, keith sticks to piano. another delicious set-closing SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, mickey singing (i think) his FIRE verse way off-mic around 8:50. deep pathways in groovy-but-sure-wish-it-was-longer PLAYING IN THE BAND, kicking off 37 minute PLAYING > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > PLAYING. 5 minute DRUMZ finds a little topography. “my hands are insured” someone says. given mickey’s post-tour accident, wonder if that was true. to cool effect, garcia builds into WHARF RAT intro as drumzers are still drumzing. short heady path back to PLAYING.

5/18/77 atlanta: a beautiful betty board taped over a non-dead tape somewhere on the chain. spectral signals during tuning breaks. only ever DEAL opener. besides that, EYES OF THE WORLD, & JACK-A-ROE, though, garcia calls exclusively slow, meandering songs. dripping 8-minute IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES has only the briefest of solos & clear swaying garcia/donna/weir harmonies. 24 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES not extraordinary, but generous with overflowing happy garcia leads. moar solo jerry in THE OTHER ONE. the quiet garcia comes to anti-climax with nearly 16 minute & sometimes discombobulated STELLA BLUE, guitar like a flickering candle. nice moment in song i don’t really care for: AROUND & AROUND gets quiet, garcia’s guitar hyperfuzzed & bubbling over.

5/19/77 atlanta: in set 1, surf’s mostly up during 16 minute SUGAREE. 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET is peak mu-tron rainbow lasers by garcia. sing-songy garcia solos in RAMBLE ON ROSE & ESTIMATED PROPHET set bright keynote for jams to come. could live inside either. sweet flow & surprise twists in 56 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > CHINA DOLL > PLAYING IN THE BAND. 11 minute PLAYING goes full star-splatter. electrifying turn into UNCLE JOHN’S end jam, returning to song proper via vocal tag. only time? DRUMZ is a bummzer when UNCLE JOHN’S seems ready to rage & 7m THE WHEEL feels short, though stellar placement/momentum/playing. 1st CHINA DOLL since 10/74, 1st with mickey. too many damn cymbals. lovely besides. lurching shift back to PLAYING but jam gets deep. few long segue sequences from spring ’77 are this satisfying. 3 garcia songs, 2 big jams, 1 bust-out, 1 total oddity.

5/21/77 lakeland: nicely building JACK STRAW, :30 longer & way fiercer than most of tour, garcia clearly lit when they hit last vocals. full stop before SCARLET BEGONIAS jam leads to slightly different rhythmic feel, carrying to woozy FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN garcia swirl. 72 minute suiteness: ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN. slightly awkward dissolve from ESTIMATED into 1st HE’S GONE of the year, which hits jamming speed & is immediately detoured by DRUMZ. fun ride but OTHER ONE feels like spaceship on autopilot. semi-solo jerry bridge to ’77′s last gripping COMES A TIME.

5/22/77 hollywood, FL: 1st official live release from 1977 (may or otherwise), from 1995, great show with a fun abnormality. 16 minute SUGAREE, maybe perfect, drummers guiding song up/down. garcia guitar fans & a few moments of excellent cascading free flight. hot moves in 9 minute LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION, 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET, & 2nd set opening HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER. main action is in 53 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT > TERRAPIN STATION > MORNING DEW. ESTIMATED/EYES transition is still mostly bullshit, but EYES is bright & opens to short jam that dissolves into 2 minutes of near-solo jerry. immediately after WHARF RAT, garcia accidentally(?) hits mid-TERRAPIN STATION changes, skipping “lady with a fan” section & jumps in. funny that twice in 3 shows garcia jams into a song’s ending & then never again, as far as i know. but, hey 4 straight jerry songs. perfect fade segue into 1st MORNING DEW since cornell, not as intense, but with perhaps deeper valleys.

5/25/77 richmond: “dave’s picks, v. 1″! archetypal may ’77 yummys on all fronts, at a shriners’ temple. also a 5.1 fan mix. like 5/22, PEGGY-O is less delicate than earlier takes, but still crisp, its punchiness now happily escaping the island-folk groove. last may ’77 SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, totally even-keel build, never quite peaking but patiently untying knots. 64 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > OTHER ONE > THE WHEEL starting to resemble ’80s 2nd set form. short ‘n’ smooth deceleration from ESTIMATED into HE’S GONE, but still shocked that the former hasn’t yet lit out for the territories. thrilling moments in OTHER ONE, almost breaking thru to space-jazz weirdisms, but momentum & rhythmic disagreements turn to WHARF RAT. quick easy turn from 2nd OTHER ONE verse into THE WHEEL, pristine while they’re playing it though weir’s outro jam ripcord is bogus. even after 2 listens, i don’t totally understand how AROUND & AROUND got to be over 8 minutes & not sure if i care to.

5/26/77 baltimore: unusually for the dead, band waits to start until more people to arrive (according to weir). good seats available. explosive fireworks-in-the-daytime garcia solos in BROWN EYED WOMEN & BERTHA. either band is adjusting to BERTHA’s new groove or i am. double-time jam in SUGAREE turns into detailed world of its own, spiky lead punctuation by weir, with equally conversational comedown. despite an opportunity for a local baltimore shout-out, weir shows surprising restraint & skips DANCING IN THE STREET. digging the breadth of the lesser ’77 songs: folky JACK-A-ROE (here, really up), power rawk PASSENGER, & even donna’s swaying SUNRISE. psychedelic half of jam-suite (TERRAPIN STATION > ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD) is same length (32 minutes) as oldies portion. drag. ESTIMATED feeling properly chill. short but spaced jam winds down logically before starting into laser-sharp EYES.

5/28/77 baltimore: to paraphrase composer lou harrison: everything must come to an end, even may ’77. non-stop 34m BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’/SUGAREE 3fer to open. fake splice segues, but real momentum & energy. besides new songs, SUGAREE is tour breakout, nearly doubling in length since fall. 19m with seamless bliss in & out of double-time. 1st CANDYMAN since 10/76. garcia mildly shaky on intro. while nice under wordless oohs, chintzy new polymoog part is distracting. righteous surprises in 67 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET/PLAYING IN THE BAND > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > PLAYING. for a few seconds near very end of ESTIMATED, garcia seems to be pushing towards TERRAPIN, but weir cuts him off with song end. 11 minute PLAYING stays compelling. polymoog on verses pleasantly evokes baroque TC-era organ. scattered jam with rad ambient synth washes. vibey crossfade into TERRAPIN. typically powerful, spawns 1st improv: 30s of tantalizing PLAYING jam before surrendering to DRUMZ. 15m NOT FADE AWAY boss throughout. intro jam like reverse MIND LEFT BODY. post-verse space-dance locks tight with new weir changes. in flip of usual, WHARF RAT > PLAYING REPRISE punctuate NOT FADE AWAY. much cooler set-capper than more oldies.

6/4/77 the forum: the dead’s debut at LA’s fabulous forum, audience recording only. charming crowd chatter. woman: “i wonder if we’ll ever see CHINA CAT again?” (eventually.) mildly gnarly tape makes music edgier, even on wee TENNESSEE JED jam. garcia plays cool circles around intro/melody on great CANDYMAN. 90 minutes of 2nd set song suites. jams aren’t always successful or long enough or fluid, but held together by sense of fun & movement. 30 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > GOOD LOVIN’. if drummers were on board, ESTIMATED/EYES segue would be perfect. big wide EYES, 1 minute of teasing jam. ugh, weir’s 1st GOOD LOVIN’ ad-libs: “even in russia! (got to have lovin’) even in china!” er, bob? 56 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > CHINA DOLL > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING has dead air & disagreement, but a lot goin’ for it. incoherent PLAYING space-out drops into FRANKLIN’S which, instead of endless boogie, springs into nifty & more coherent space-out. dig CHINA DOLL’s polymoog harpsichord. chaos as NOT FADE AWAY comes in way too fast, but hits fun corners at speed.
6/7

6/7/77 winterland: 1st of 3 tour closers at home, each casually excellent summations of era. keith’s last run playing acoustic piano. tuning jam on 1880 italian hit FUNICULI FUNICULA is almost a full performance, 2 articulated minutes of cartoon soundtrack dead. 2nd set opens with last SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN of spring ’77, taking valley route to a many-colored fireworks show. 35m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SAMSON & DELILAH sags in middle, though crisp NOBODY’S FAULTy blooze in HE’S GONE is nice. 25 minute TERRAPIN STATION > MORNING DEW goes from good to fuckin’ luminous. DEW’s 1st solo & last big burn feel more daring than 5/8, even. also the last MORNING DEW of 1977, appearing one time each in ’78 & ’79, but basically in hibernation until 1980. smell ya later, DEW. garcia extra-lit at show’s end, even AROUND & AROUND. ace sunshine solo & widening jam on UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore.

6/8/77 winterland: 2nd of 3 tour closers in former SF ice palace. pulling to another era’s close. vivid tape & performances. last SUGAREE with keith on piano & a 16-minute classic. double-time waves come & go, crashing into long imaginative solo & 3rd verse. realizing that keith godchaux’s move to electric keyboards will be almost as big a tonal change as return of mickey hart’s 2nd drums. riveting PASSENGER. real talk: i’ll take donna’s SUNRISE every day over anything any of the keyboardists wrote/sang, excluding pig. BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ opens set 2, fixed pairing over next years. former is big & comfy, latter is big & overexcited, courtesy hart/weir. beaming moments across 2nd set jam suite. 19m EYES OF THE WORLD & 14m OTHER ONE float with elegance but open magically near ends. garcia, weir, & donna achieve sweet blend on masterful BROKEDOWN PALACE, keith’s soulful piano adding a lot, too.

6/9/77 winterland: A+ soundboard & a motherlode for weir variations on the “just exactly perfect” in-joke/cosmic philosophy. almost every song is a goodbye to keith’s grand piano, gone after this show. on THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, garcia’s solo carves open space. garcia is extra-present, playing with melody/phrasing on joyful DEAL & intimate LOSER (& beyond), inventiveness carrying into solos. all is great, really. even feelin’ weir & donna’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN duet, with deft piano. SUNRISE builds to AOR psych-prog grandeur. maaaaybe the all-time HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER with powerful & deep 9 minute SLIPKNOT jam & 17 minute free-flying FRANKLIN’S. even end of 48 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > ST. STEPHEN > TERRAPIN STATION > SUGAR MAGNOLIA is graceful. mondo jerry jamz on ESTIMATED, still wishing they’d go all-in, but effortless melt into ST. STEPHEN, with successive waves of cheers. double-encore is last ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT with genuine boogie-woogie piano & then it’s adios to spring ’77. and 11 days later, mickey’s car accident & the last summer without any dead shows for 18 years, minus the englishtown labor day mega-jam.

9/3/77 englishtown: the dead, marshall tucker, & new riders at [high-pitched voice] raaaaceway park! in lieu of a summer tour, the dead play to 125,000 people in new jersey, birthing a new generation of deadheads. (patrolled shipping containers lined the concert side to prevent the usual festival gatecrashing. apparently it worked.) never really got into this show when i had it on tape tbh. too big & shouty & not enough jamming. can hear (some of) the appeal now. 1st gig with keith godchaux solely on electric keys & since mickey hart’s june car accident. drums starting to loom over rest of sound. PEGGY-O filled with textbook lesh basslines, subdividing/pushing/reframing melody & rhythm. drums ride the breaks hard. some cooking garcia in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED 1st set closer & BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ 2nd set opener, but harsh edge abounds. choice banter: weir on mickey’s alien communications & “just exactly perfect” variations, including sweet phil soliloquy. phil in transylvanian accent: “we will all be beautiful together when it is perfect! is it not so? is it not written in the sky?” 23 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET/EYES OF THE WORLD floats in place, but never flies. apparently, an unexplained setbreak after SAMSON & DELILAH. most interesting improv cascades out of last few minutes of HE’S GONE into unusually open intro to 20 minute NOT FADE AWAY. 1st TRUCKIN’ since 9/75 & lesh’s vocal return, with falsetto weir shrieks. messy/hilarious/worrying attempts at post-peak reentry. for encore, bellowing phil & what was supposed to be full TERRAPIN STATION suite, with weir on doubleneck guitar, but mickey bails. imperfect show that marks the beginning of a new era for dead & heads, essentially lasting ’til “in the dark.”

9/28/77 seattle: fall tour opener. godchaux’s electric keys make everything sound just off. could be mix, but drums feel overbearing. fun climbing jam on TENNESSEE JED opener, electric dixieland with joyous sing-song vistas & flourishes, nearly missing reentry. PEGGY-O illuminated again by phil’s odd subdivisions. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL has queasy keys & unceasing unchill 2nd snare. 1st DIRE WOLF since 10/74. intro riff up an octave & a bit slower. jauntiness replaced by 2-drummer plod, almost escaping during solo. EYES OF THE WORLD jams for a short breath, with garcia & keith locking in, even after the drummers have course set for thuddery. zonky drumless jerry space between NOT FADE AWAY & WHARF RAT, some seeming tempo battles on the latter, resolving to swooping solo. for once, a decent segue into AROUND & AROUND, but still so much of what i find tame about post-hiatus dead.

9/29/77 seattle: another mix where drums seem to lead instead of garcia, especially 1st 5 minutes of SUGAREE & end of FRANKLIN’S TOWER. suiteless 17 minute standalone FRANKLIN’S TOWER lurches with new extra-accented gait. nice valleys. wordless soul cooing before last chorus. really wonderful vocal performance by garcia on SHIP OF FOOLS, partially muted by bored-sounding/unswinging metronome-like 2nd snare. not much for jammin’. temple bells surface briefly & gorgeously in DRUMZ. TRUCKIN’ soundin’ more together with 2 big bright peaks. STELLA BLUE loses focus during 2nd half, but guitar solo transforms into a surprise up-shift into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. on UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore, garcia finally cracks door into deep jam space for agonizingly brief, beautiful moment.

10/1/77 portland: what a difference a mix makes. drum energy still feels over the top, but beautifully framed in a stereo board tape. uptempo 1st set. DIRE WOLF punchier than comeback version. TENNESSEE JED solo bubbles over again. glimmering MUSIC NEVER STOPPED peak. cooperative steering on jam suite, especially during smooth & amorphous downshift on 23m EYES OF THE WORLD > DANCING IN THE STREET. 1st BLACK PETER since 10/74 is a stunner. purdy piano, bass punctuation, jerry/donna sounding great. all on same page, even drummers. earlier MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES is likewise at excellent tempo. not quite delicate, but never dirge-like. great singing. okay, fine, once this AROUND & AROUND kicks in, there’s some ace non-sloppy boogie-oogie-oogie & jerry shreds.

10/2/77 portland: 1st CASEY JONES since 10/74 opens (& 1st with mickey since 2/71). garcia spaces verse(s) & decent vamps ensue. mightily jacked-up JACK STRAW, yeesh. another uptempo 1st set with no slow tunes minus donna’s SUNRISE, still oddly interesting to me. 1st DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES since 7/69, oddly served by metronomic drums. garcia articulating lyrics, very present. neat donna part. 12 minute LET IT GROW is overblown in best way. flashes of prog-era jerry as he alternates knotty soloing/comping. dashing piano chords.
4 shows & finally 1st SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. 24 minute with beautiful arpeggio pools by keith on FIRE, almost finding exit. oh & phew, it’s 1st jam show of tour. 21 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL followed by 27 minute TRUCKIN’ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. short heavy PLAYING, billy’s snare dancing old style, phil conversing with jerry. peaceable crossfade into DRUMZ via temple bells. powerful, together TRUCKIN’ remembers jam, though steers instantly to condensed 2-verse 7m OTHER ONE, ever-churning.

10/6/77 tempe: only 67 minutes circulate, from king biscuit flower hour. other recordings seem to be composites from fall shows? only pictures i could find from 12-show early fall ’77 tour, confirming garcia switched back to playing wolf & lost his shampoo. charged NOT FADE AWAY turns corner near MIND LEFT BODY before beautiful garcia disassembly into another detail-filled BLACK PETER. slinky exit move from BLACK PETER, too, garcia’s solo seeming to suspend gravity for a second as band shifts back into NOT FADE AWAY. not enough to redeem it, but AROUND & AROUND has a skewed phil-driven breakdown before final yowlfest.

10/7/77 albuquerque: just the 2nd set circulates. an hour’s worth of segues with nice moments but only a little jamming. 1st TERRAPIN STATION of tour, weirdly. longest yet, only cuz garcia forgets verses. guitar confidence returns when he remembers words. 11 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets dense & heady just before DRUMZ, dissolving too briefly to bells/whistles/sirens/cymbals. still, nice! tape splice into 2nd IKO IKO. just-baked-enough high altitude boogie. garcia knows more words now & leans in, which is cool. no jam on THE WHEEL sadly, but WHARF RAT peaks gloriously, drops into short wide open zone, & peaks gloriously again.

10/9/77 denver: LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION down to tight 7m. underrated l’il jam in general. keith’s electric tone getting harsh. long, satisfying 14 minute SUGAREE, garcia spiraling up & up & up & elegantly down. as good as spring, but less pleasing due to mix & keys. another totally burning MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, garcia’s guitar solo over-saturating the soundboard tape during big string-fanning peak. garcia drops 2nd verse of SCARLET BEGONIAS. formerly a novelty, probably this is the tour where i stop noting when it happens. grungy electric keys kinda work for the SCARLET jam, sleepy 2-chord bed that lands in FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN at pleasant easy pace. smooth deceleration from ESTIMATED PROPHET into HE’S GONE, with short but stunning/spare/inventive pre-verse solo by garcia. pro accelerating count-off segue into TRUCKIN’, back at full bluster & coming to a clear end, jerry improvising a coda before DRUMZ. for the 1st time (& for reasons i’ve never understood or investigated) weir squeaks a falsetto post-set “thank you!”

10/11/77 norman: fat jammin’ tuesday on 1st visit to oklahoma in 4 years. 2 big’ns to bookend 1st set & 89 minute 7-song (+ DRUMZ) set 2. 25 minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER, last ’til ’82, opens. late SLIPKNOT! messiness, but whole is still elegant. le sigh. LET IT GROW getting bigger, lightspeed jam with room for everybody. always wish it would fly open, but here lands softly at setbreak. 17 minute DANCING IN THE STREET is among longest ever, boogie-in-place rainbow shimmy & warp/woof weaving by garcia/phil/weir/keith. 25 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD doesn’t go far, but great longform garcia threads, gliding transition, & interlocking jams. intricate quiet jerry before NOT FADE AWAY, speeding up into bright double-time, veering into elegant coda, & dropping into WHARF RAT. WHARF RAT itself is a bit muddled, but thrilling ascending jam mid-song before descent to AROUND & AROUND.

10/12/77 austin: only outdoor show of tour. “y’all make sure to huddle together to keep warm,” suggests phil before setbreak. gorgeous vocal performance by garcia on slowly unfolding FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, starting to shake the hippie reggae for stoned marching. underrated: bobby/donna/jerry vocal parts on ESTIMATED PROPHET. the martian blues are nice, but lately never go far into orbit. wish the lovely 1m of temple bells/cymbals to start DRUMZ lasted longer before the thump-th’-th’-thumping. so ready for DRUMZ/SPACE. 10 minute OTHER ONE has top-speed locked-in jams, but only seems to have one setting, disintegrating almost instantly after 2nd verse. on the other hand, BLACK PETER is 15 minutes, un-dirge-like, & overflowing with soulful vocals & 5 minutes of bright & redemptive jerry blues. coolest part of TRUCKIN’ is only on the audience tape: slide into hypnotic groove that becomes 1st NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE since 7/74. despite its redundancy IKO IKO is a welcome variation on NOT FADE AWAY, plus good segue into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

10/14/77 houston: hilariously big bass mix on opening JACK STRAW, louder than vocals, for full dose of ludicrous countermelodies. 12 minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP is at full rush as soon as soloing starts, aided by sweet (adjusted) bass mix, & only swells from there. 18 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND slides into free dead jazz & swings in space for whole jam, jerry weaving through dialogue(s). satisfying! long by recent standards, 7 minute THE WHEEL is cool/comfortable post-DRUMZ with short purposeful jam that garcia steers straight to WHARF RAT. once again, 14 minute WHARF RAT turns corner into something close to improv space, drummers at march while garcia goes a-questin’ & returns. for encore, last BROKEDOWN PALACE ’til 4/80 (more plodding & drummier than spring) drops into 6 minute PLAYING REPRISE.

10/15/77 dallas: drummers feeling the right kind of laid back for once on uptempo BERTHA as much as downtempo RAMBLE ON ROSE. garcia mayhem in LET IT GROW, a glowing refuge for prog thrills from whole gang, really. expanded middle & short explosive outro jam. not something i usually say: gorgeous vocal by donna jean on SUNRISE verses. more cosmic/ethereal than many of weir’s tunes. fite me. 38 minute TERRAPIN STATION > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE feels great (esp. jerry solo on STEPHEN), but never fully liberates. if there’s not gonna be a real jam anyway, TRUCKIN’ is a cherry encore choice. huge cheer for “dallas” line, derr.

10/16/77 baton rouge: 1st LA show since 1/70 new orleans bust, closing tour’s 1st leg. great stereo soundboard, enjoyable all around. for all the times weir’s gotten crowds to wish his bandmates happy birthdays on days when it wasn’t, no one mentions it’s his 30th. SCARLET BEGONIAS locks into mellow piano groove, garcia skating peaceably around on top. stately last FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN solo. 32 minute bobby birthday suite discovers a few unexpected wide-open spaces during ESTIMATED PROPHET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > GOOD LOVIN’. finally, ESTIMATED opens up, landing in 2 minutes of wonderful quiet space. garcia squigglies mix with temple bells & thoughtful drumzing. after bobby suite, garcia follows TERRAPIN STATION directly with ballad, dramatically arcing BLACK PETER.

10/28/77 kansas city: opening night of 8-show run from the midwest to the north country. highlights more in song moments than jams. surely fun to be had if somebody boosted the gain & transcribed the interminable tuning break between THEY LOVE EACH OTHER & CASSIDY. era when garcia stops focusing on new material, SCARLET/FIRE & TERRAPIN only played every few shows, most ’75′-’76 songs now dropped. stellar CANDYMAN. A+ dynamics, soulful singin’, warm harmonies, pleasant electric dixieland solo, bluesy piano asides, bass dabbles. shifting 56 minute down/up/down/up jam suite: HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD. HE’S GONE stretches to 20 minutes without much happening, nice crossfade into DRUMZ, & long NOT FADE AWAY with diggable 4m jerry space-out. powerful STELLA BLUE with big jerry vocal, nice phil/bob color, astonishing solo, upshift into peppy/swinging GDTRFB.

10/29/77 dekalb: highlights & surprises abound. opens with 1st MIGHT AS WELL since may, totally lit jerry. best ever, maybe? stunning 13 minute LET IT GROW, preview of ’80s thunder, detailed middle that takes time climbing back to frenzy, end jam now a 2 minute landing. set 2 opening BERTHA opens to a cool & unexpected piano-made valley on “ran into a rainstorm” verse, lingering a little after. 64 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > ST. STEPHEN > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER gets deep, resolves persuasively. EYES cracks into 7m of increasingly lovely garcia shapes, weir feedback, occasional counterpoint, & beautiful flow into ST. STEPHEN. mostly together STEPHEN is jubilant slo-mo setpiece. phil joins drumzers for NOT FADE AWAY intro. hilarious bass interjections ensue. long & patient BLACK PETER stays at exquisite quiet for 9m ’til garcia lets loose for last blues, both mournful & ecstatic. also, keith & donna burn down their hotel room after the show just ‘cuz, plus other details.

10/30/77 bloomington: featuring one of the most drippingly psychedelic jam sequences of the year. with few exceptions, most shows this fall are now clocking at 2.5 hours of music. less occasionally close to 3, the standard in may. weir tells joke about poaching deer that either involves unexplained physical punchline or the sudden sound of weir tackled by roadie? keith’s chintzy faux-harpischord tone achieves improbable & kinda beautiful meld with garcia’s guitar on PEGGY-O. wonderful 55m set 2 jam: PLAYING IN THE BAND > OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND. way deep for ’77. perfect warm mix highlights weir’s weird not-quite-leads/not-quite-rhythms, on PLAYING especially. maybe my fave jam(s) of the ’77? powerful & together WHEEL, weir guiding jam. big WHARF RAT chords make me miss real piano. and that guitar solo!

11/1/77 detroit: drummers & whole band playing really well & easily together, no one/everyone leading, even if it’s really drummers. powerful JACK STRAW, starting at properly chill/confident tempo. great builds by the drumzers, piano adding nicely to drama. post-DIRE WOLF, birds (or bird calls?) near stage. garcia adds an enjoyable moment of exotica slide guitar before burning PASSENGER. rare TERRAPIN STATION opener sets up non-stop 63 minute set 2. huge ending, especially vocals, & nice long landing. still want a jam there. 43  minute ESTIMATED PROPET > OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’, garcia’s transition from ESTIMATED especially time/space-suspending. after a burp, TRUCKIN’ climax works too well & band shifts into 2 minutes of cool mini-jams before remembering they no longer jam TRUCKIN’. semi-inaudible off-mic chatter throughout, feat. off-color mickey. before encore, jerry nixes a phil suggestion. can anyone tell what? ripsnortin’ US BLUES with edgy vocals, perhaps due to the looming post-show border crossing, band’s 1st since ’74.

11/2/77 toronto: 1st T-O visit since 7/70 festival express. lyrical garcia guitar delights in RAMBLE ON ROSE. great vocal, too. garcia closes 1st set with another forceful & charged MIGHT AS WELL, about trans-canada 1970 train trip with janis, The Band, & co.. keith nears 5/8 SCARLET BEGONIAS piano break & leads throughout. jerry lays back on FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN ascent, only uncoils briefly. energized 27 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > ST. STEPHEN > TRUCKIN’. ESTIMATED grips with crackling & bent garcia solos, band wilding away. fantastic TRUCKIN’ keeps peakin’ & peakin’, clever boogie-woogie by keith. AROUND & AROUND follows & never sounded dinkier. if there’s not gonna be a mystic jam or grand statement after big TERRAPIN STATION, it might was well be the encore.

11/4/77 colgate university: homecoming at cotterel basketball court. weir wishes them well several times. big and/or long jams within. loving the bright ‘n’ jaunty ’77 DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES vibe. only challenge seems to be garcia remembering the lyrics. great 13 minute LET IT GROW hits bright plateau in 1st jam, opens majestically in 2nd. 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since 9/76, only billy hits cue. hosed phil: “we’re the jones gang… on eeelectric guitar we have jerry jones.” jerry: “donna jean jones, freshly deported from canada.”  75 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > EYES OF THE WORLD > ESTIMATED PROPHET > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > IKO IKO > STELLA BLUE > PLAYING IN THE BAND. garcia soars near end of 13 minute PLAYING, flying into harshly rushed EYES, yielding neat guitar turns & nifty rhythmic clanging in outro. well-executed count-off segue into ESTIMATED, feeling looser this deep into suite. 11m of subtle chillness & spacious singsong solos. OTHER ONE down to perfunctory 4.5m. mostly exquisite STELLA BLUE expands with graceful drama on way back to PLAYING.

11/5/77 rochester: near riot getting in, heads pushed through glass doors in bad-vibed mob scene. also, what’s up oberlin squad? rowdy crowd. performances just about back at spring consistency. big 12m MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP one of many garcia highlights. great jerry vocals abound: there, DIRE WOLF, MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, BLACK PETER. lovely bluesy piano asides on together CANDYMAN. bass, tuning cloudburst, & rare EYES OF THE WORLD set opener. slow & right on. 2 bass solos, fluid drumz segue into SAMSON & DELILAH. jam is 49m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > PHIL/DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER. all but DRUMZ over 10m, each its own kind of static. heady detailed interplay though little movement on ESTIMATED. kinda subdued OTHER ONE but all keep listening hard.

11/6/77 binghamton: maybe the all-time great MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP to open. hyper-enunciated solos/vocals. much of set 1 right up there. sparkles all over, even MEXICALI BLUES/ME & MY UNCLE. big MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. bright dynamics/slide guitar color on SAMSON & DELILAH. not sure how i feel about this SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, though. feels l’il empty. nice bliss late in transition jam. garcia lyric-mangling on FIRE is buzzkill, but jam heats up after 1st vocals. will he ever sing 2 complete verses? tune in next tour! 44 minute ST. STEPHEN > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > ST. STEPHEN > TRUCKIN’. nice late STEPHEN detailing, but doesn’t take off ’til band coheres from 1st the big WHARF RAT peak through short ST. STEPHEN bridge into powerful blooze cruise TRUCKIN’.

12/27/77 winterland: the grateful dead begin 1st bay area new year’s run. new year’s energy palpable. or maybe it’s just edge city. hyped & tight, lots of garcia shreds. drummers (mickey?) keep pushing BERTHA chorus into doubletime, adding a manic queasiness. tempo continued into GOOD LOVIN’. all in all, they almost sound like a different band from the rest of ’77, mega-charged & subtly different dynamic. after slowing down 1971-’74 & especially post-10/77 comeback, DIRE WOLF now back to ’70 speed & sounds (maybe) even better. before SCARLET BEGONIAS, weir makes springy guitar noise. garcia: “that’s horrible, man! no!” weir keeps doing it. solid & true 17m SCARLET > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, garcia only briefly stumbling on FIRE lyrics! cascading keys & soaring guitar colors. when they finally wind-down to post-TRUCKIN’ space, music feels restless, the energy only working when in forward motion. but HE’S GONE & WHARF RAT both move with nice, medium-slow tempos. even more, drums stay respectful & chill. also, heaviness: last run before garcia loses his voice for a few shows & (some say) never quite got it back fully.

12/29/77 winterland: tempos normal after jacked-up opener. weir: “our new name is gonna be the just exactly perfect brothers band.” last SUGAREE of the year is 14 minutes. cool & effortless if not quite glorious, with a quiet/purdy between-verse group valley. tuning before 2nd set has jerry/keith/weir noodling with 5-note alien call from close encounters. keith can’t quite get it. 54m PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER > CHINA DOLL > PLAYING JAM > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING. 16 minute PLAYING floats along, finding colorful shapes around 11m, spinning them briefly & dripping into space before garcia starts the 1st CHINA > RIDER since 10/74, instant eternal bounce. donna’s vocal replaces phil’s. garcia audibly psyched to be singing/playing it. elegant descent from RIDER to CHINA DOLL, last ’til 5/79. synth dominates early, but garcia’s vocal is jawdropping. good guitar, too. RIDER > CHINA DOLL segue is like a 1-time(?) successful on-the-fly version of the semi-fixed RIDER > HIGH TIME transition from ’70. rare double encore leads with final TERRAPIN STATION of ’77 & last with jerry’s “young” voice.

12/30/77 winterland: great show with 1 of year’s best jams. wonderful jerry vocals on MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, SHIP OF FOOLS, & everywhere. ROW JIMMY & DIRE WOLF both have especially grand/expressive jerrying. LET IT GROW (weir still calls it “weather report”?) flickers hot. another CLOSE ENCOUNTERS alien call tuning before the 2nd set. “soon now!” phil announces, confidently. the 36m ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > ST. STEPHEN would feel a mite lacking as a jam suite if not for that EYES. like, whoa. big crests after 1st verse of 15 minute EYES, taut solo & easy sailing into magical post-song group improv over shifting minimalist swing. video confirms what i suspected: EYES gets rad when mickey moves to percussion & band reverts to quintet. cool to see them jamming in close. a logical (if not fully elegant) upturn into ST. STEPHEN transitions the evening into the party zones.

12/31/77 winterland: a fun way to end the year, but not one of the all-time enduring grateful dead concerts, musically speaking. some decent song versions (JACK STRAW) & another articulated FUNICULI FUNICULA tuning, but not much for the highlights reel. midnight comes half-hour late cuz bill graham had to be at santana but then he rides over crowd on a motorcycle & CHAOS! SUGAR MAGNOLIA! NAKED PEOPLE! 1978! SCARLET BEGONIAS starts casually. some blazing moments, but lurches into FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. mickey cowbells for disconcertingly long time after FIRE ends. 19m TRUCKIN’ is a mess & garcia disappears for full 5 minutes, though jam goes to a few curious piano/bass-led corners when he does. keith adds semi-ambient keyboards during DRUMZ, an idea i like a lot… or maybe he’s just falling asleep. someone check on him, please? at the end of the night & the last recording of 1977, bob: “merry christmas.” accurate summation of the year, anyway.

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