Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass, vocals; Keith Godchaux - keyboards; Donna Godchaux - vocals; Bill Kreutzmann - drums; Mickey Hart - drums
1976 was a transitional year for the Grateful Dead. They had re-formed, after retiring from the road in October of 1974; drummer Mickey Hart had returned to the fold after a 5-year absence; and the group was just beginning the second major phase of their touring career. The new material developed for their Blues for Allah album (released the previous year), in addition to new songs recorded for Garcia and Weir's side projects, infused the band with new energy and furnished plenty of fresh material through which to explore and redefine themselves.
This Day on the Green concert was presented by Bill Graham and features both the Dead and The Who. The show provides excellent examples of the Dead at the time, as they labored to create a less complex sound (a tendency that would inevitably disappoint many older Deadheads). After years of further development, this new, more accessible style would eventually open the doors to a much larger audience.
Playing in broad daylight was highly unusual for the Grateful Dead, and performing in the morning was a radically different experience altogether. Not surprisingly, the first set is primarily a warm-up exercise. It begins with Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" and continues with a mellow version of "They Love Each Other," a song the band had introduced in 1973 as an up-tempo rocker, and that was later slowed down for Garcia's 1975 solo album Reflections. "New Minglewood Blues," a song featured on the Dead's first LP, had recently been resurrected and comes next. During the following "Scarlet Begonias" the band begins hitting their stride. Although not as expansively improvised as it would later become, the song provides a nice opportunity for the band to build cohesion and momentum.
Weir steps to the forefront on the pairing of "Lazy Lightning" and "Supplication" that follows, songs he had developed during his tenure with Kingfish the previous year. The tunes were welcome additions to the Dead's repertoire and would become permanent fixtures for years to come. They end the first set in an unusual manner, with "Sugaree," one of the most popular tracks from Garcia's first solo album.