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 reformed after retiring from the road in October of 1974, drummer Mickey Hart had returned to the fold after a five-year absence, and the group was beginning the second major phase of their touring career. The new material developed for their Blues for Allah album the previous year, in addition to new material recorded for Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir's side projects, infused the band with new energy and plenty of fresh material in which to explore and redefine itself.
This Day on the Green concert was presented by Bill Graham and features both the Dead and The Who and provides excellent examples of the Dead at this time, struggling to create a less complex sound that would inevitably disappoint many older Deadheads. However, this new accessibility 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, but after a lunch break they return to the stage rejuvenated and obviously in the mood to play. In what was a highly unusual occurrence for 1976, this second set consists of one continuous sequence of songs.
After doodling around with the theme to the Alfred Hitchcock show while tuning, they open the second set with a new revamped version of "St. Stephen," a song they dropped from their repertoire five years prior. This must have generated considerable excitement and this version, although slowed down and more methodical, is quite interesting as it contains an 11-minute "Not Fade Away" sandwiched in the middle.
Without stopping, the group transitions right into the opening sequence of the Blues for Allah album, with "Help On The Way." Here they begin firing on all cylinders with a new jazz-inflected sound, featuring more complex rhythms surfaces. This new sound expands further as they jam into "Slipknot," which reaches deeper into space before dissolving into a short drum duet between Kreutzmann and Hart. This drum sequence launches them into another new song, a cover of Reverend Gary Davis' "Samson & Delilah." This transitions back into "Slipknot" and we're treated to another dose of exquisite jamming before they segue into the bouncy "Franklin's Tower." Upon completion, Bob Weir leads them directly into the set closing rocker, "One More Saturday Night."
With bicentennial celebrations still fresh in everybody's mind that summer, they appropriately return for an encore of "U.S. Blues."