My First Dead Show: Lakeland Civic Center 05/21/77

My fraternity brothers were really mean. They never dragged me to a Grateful Dead show in the early ’70s anywhere in the vicinity of Bethlehem PA. (They were so mean.)

So it wasn’t until May of 1977 that Roy Taylor made sure I attended my first Dead show. That spring tour began April 22nd at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, ending at the Hartford Civic Center May 28th, with 26 shows (plus four June dates when they returned to California). During the tour they played 13 states, as far west as Illinois and Minnesota and as far south as Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

Until recently, three of those shows were officially available, released on Dick’s Picks:

05/22/77  The Sportatorium | Pembroke Pines FL | Volume 3
05/19/77  Fox Theatre | Atlanta GA | Volume 29
05/21/77  Lakeland Civic Center | Lakeland FL | Volume 29

Cornell 5/8/77 on CD

Of course, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the hallowed Barton Hall concert at Cornell, dead.net has released that show and a boxed set (Get Shown the Light) with three more shows as well:

05/05/77  Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum | New Haven CT
05/07/77  Boston Garden | Boston MA
05/08/77  Barton Hall | Cornell University | Ithaca NY
05/09/77  War Memorial Auditorium | Buffalo NY

Read our story about that release here.

Back to 1977. Roy took me to the Lakeland Civic Center 05/21/77. Here is the setlist:

[ONE: Bertha, Me and My Uncle, They Love Each Other, Cassidy, Jack-a-Roe, Jack Straw, Tennessee Jed, Passenger, Row Jimmy, Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain; TWO: Samson and Delilah, Brown-Eyed Women, Estimated Prophet > He’s Gone > Drums > The Other One > Comes a Time > St. Stephen > Not Fade Away > St. Stephen > One More Saturday Night; E: U.S. Blues]

I remember crying by the time they got to “Me and My Uncle” and again when they played “New Minglewood Blues.” I remember being caught up in the magic of the entire event. I remember that incredible Garcia lead as they opened the second set with “Samson and Delilah.”

More than anything, though, I remember that the band huddled after “Brown-Eyed Woman” for what seemed like a long time (apparently, four or five minutes) before launching into the titanic sequence that begins with “Estimated Prophet” and concludes with “One More Saturday Night” (and, yes, it was).

As I was working on this article, I discovered that Tampa’s venerated Uncle John’s Band, a Dead tribute band chosen by The Dead to play afternoon shows in Chicago during Fare Thee Well and with more than a thousand performances to their credit, will cover the Lakeland show at Orange Blossom Jamboree in Brooksville FL this coming Sunday, the 40th anniversary, on 05/21/17!

Somebody up there likes me! Thanks, Jerry!

I wonder what Bonnie Blue will play on Sunday at 1904 Music Hall in Jacksonville with special guest Ben Sparaco?

Several other odd things about Dick’s Picks 29, which contains three disks for the Fox Theatre show and three for the Lakeland show. Disk 5 has “Passenger” through “Brown-Eyed Woman,” clocking in at 42 minutes — as listed. However, “Brown-Eyed Woman” is 5:32, but the track then contains another nine minutes of… silence. And then there are two more tracks from 10/11/77 (and another on Disk 2): a great 18-minute version of “Dancing in the Streets” and a short four-minute “Dire Wolf.” And Disk 6, at 68 minutes, does not include the “U.S. Blues” encore.


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