Today is the anniversary of one of the greatest Grateful Dead shows ever recorded. The Dead achieved perfection in 1977 (the year Donna Jean sounded the least annoying) and their May shows are among the tightest the band has ever played. Much like Phish's renown Fall 97 tour, the Dead's spring 77 tour is revered as one of the most magical moments to be on Dead tour.
But did Barton Hall really happen? I love a good conspiracy theory (Paul is dead, the Queen is a Reptilian, or the NFL rigged Super Bowl III for the Jets), but this is one of the weirdest ones I ever heard about the conspiracy of Barton Hall.
But then I wondered... I never actually met anyone who went to that show. We all had a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy from the original Betty Boards. I went on Spring 94 Dead tour during college and I was a snot-nosed 20-year old punk hanging out in the lot with these older hippies. They loved to talk about their favorite runs, but no one ever spoke about being present at the Barton Hall show. I met heads who saw the Boston shows or the Buffalo shows, but not the Barton Hall shows.
5.8.77 Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY
SET 1: Minglewood Blues, Loser, El Paso, They Love Each Other, Jack Straw, Deal, Lazy Lightning > Supplication Blues, Brown-Eyed Women, Mama Tried, Row Jimmy, Dancin' In The StreetsOn paper, it looks very similar to other shows/sets from that run but the sound was near flawless and even Donna Jean meshed with the mix.
SET2: (Take A Step Back Banter), Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Estimated Prophet > St. Stephen > Not Fade Away > St. Stephen, Morning Dew
ENCORE: Saturday Night
Listen to my favorite part of that evening... Scarlet > Fire...