December 29, 1977
sound check: "China Cat"> "I Know You Rider" - last "China Cat> I Know You Rider": 10-20-74 
Set List:Jack Straw
They Love Each Other
Looks Like Rain
New Minglewood Blues
It Must Have Been the Roses
Playin' in the Band
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Playin' in the Band
Not Fade Away
Playin' in the Band
Johnny B. Goode
Attendees of this show
Simply put, the show of my life. It all changed on this night, my first night in Winterland. 16, dosed, three thousand miles from home and lovin' every minute of it! Not to mention the return of China Cat (and a mighty one indeed!) and the most tranquil China Doll ever.
There is no other show for which I feel a kindred connection to others who were also in attendance...whenever I meet another 12/29/77-er, we always seem to acknowledge how powerful that night was.
And it lives on tape!
My favorite GD show of all time. Never went to a show, but from years of listening back to every year, every tour, and many, many great shows, this one still stands out as the best in my honest opinion. There's something about it - some call it the "X Factor" or "Mojo" or "Without A Net" - I call it pure, majestic, beautiful music from the soul. This show is quintessential 1977: powerful yet gentle, raucous yet refined, terrifying yet tranquil, ragged but right. All night long, the band tooks chances with their music, and more often than not, they stuck it with perfection. I'll never get tired of listening to 12/29/77!
Had not seen the Dead since 10-20-74.Was sitting in the park across the street on the south side of Winterland a few hours before the show and a rainbow formed in the mix of fog and sun to arc perfectly over,above and beyond the building.I thought it was a good sign.First set I sat front row in the balconey on the south side of the auditorium.As the break began I looked down on the floor and under the mirror ball I saw my dear old friend Jay K.(you know who you are) So I gave up my seat and made my way down as I had not seen him since Montana Rainbow July 76.I was to meet Omo Bob and Jays girlfriend Amy.Omo Bob was dressed as he was ready to float the Colorado River.(surplus canteen on his belt)I myself had been kicking around the southwest the previous few weeks and was in a rarified state of mind,body,spirit.Many amazing passages of music descending,rising,weaving into the next and next.Little did I know but I was already solid on the red road.Many high-lights that night but to hear Terrapin live for my first time brought the beauty of the Mother Earth and the stars into focus in a powerful way.Thank you Hunter for that amazing work-song-poem.What a time to be 23 and the feeling of being part of something far bigger than the sum of it's parts.One of the more fantastic Dead shows of my life.After the show I met up with a friend to catch a ride down to Pacifica (Linda Mar).I had on a wild looking red pendelton blanket "capote".As I walked up to him on the multi level parking lot he (Tom B.) see's me and cracks up laughing and say's "you look lit up like a lightbulb".Was it red wool I was wearing, was it the lights of the garage or was it my enhanced aura.And without a doubt it was the power of Grateful Dead.It was all of the above and more.So on down to the beach.Walked with another buddy (Kit) down to the rocks above the surf on the north end of linda mar and watched the stars and ocean and talked about Kerouac, American Indians,and the Dead as the Texas Medicine continued to cleanse my soul.
Like many others, out of more than 100 shows this was my all time favorite. Jerry pulled out an old guitar, and played it like it was his last day on earth. Got in early on the list, had several beers backstage and was given a box of sugar cubes to distribute among our Reno tribe. Gave my wallet and keys to my life and asked her to make sure I didn't jump off the balcony or get naked and lose my clothes. (very common result of LSD/Dead show/Winterland combo). The band took some time tuning, Phil said "Just a minute folks we have to get it perfect", Bobby chimed in, "We're the Perfect Brothers Band". They launched into Jack Straw, first verse and bridge the sound wasn't right, by the second bridge Jerry was off to parts unknown and TORE THE HOUSE DOWN, 5000 were one in joy. Absolutely my favorite first set ever, we recorded with dual mikes hanging over the side of the balcony, brother Ray C's stuff while he got lost in the bar as normal. It came on strong and hard and Sugaree moved me like no other, with the set ending with a very strong Promised Land. I know in our area we were chanting "Perfect ! Perfect ! Perfect ! after the song. That cassete was my favorite for years. I bugged Dick and Gans to select a Winterland show for the series by mail, this was one of two I offered as my favorites.
Move north of SF in July of this year. It was my first show at Winterland and I was pumped. Here I was in San Francisco at Winterland Arena seeing the Grateful Dead. Life didn't seem like it could be any better. As mentioned above, fabulous show. I think it was the only time I heard Terrapin as an encore. Also ran into an old friend I had not seen in many years..."goes to show you don't ever know".
A night to remember.
Sharon and I were still together, baby Aden was not quite two years old.
A year before the Big Rift and my time in Heartbreak Hotel.
We’d just blown-in from our first season up in Mendocino proving that, yes, this shit does indeed grow on trees.
“Our” scene was at the height of its powers.
Eddie & Rozine lived on 2nd Ave; along with Jonathan and various roommates, including for a time (in the walk-in closet), crazy Wade - we made that place our headquarters, staging ground, backstage, and day-care center.
Heavy-Duty Judy and Steven “Young Guy” Young were contemplating leaving the flat next to Tassajara Bakery in Cole Valley. Bruce and Rebecca were secure in the Carl Street Sector of the Bay Area Galaxy.
Bonnie and Peter, Emily and Hymo; the rest of the Tucson contingent were in town for New Years.
Francine, Wendall, Michael Star, Schultz & Melody, Gretchen, Gam, Tex, and the kids at Lyon Street . . . too many others to remember. All of the hard-core “City Kids” were hoping us country hippies had had a good harvest.
All of us were fresh from rumors and sneak-previews of “The Movie” of the “Last Five Nights.”
Some of us were IN IT fo’ sho!!!
In any case, we dominated the front of the stage, you could look in any direction and find a friend, a lover, a wife, or a child. This was our true home like no where else ever would be again.
Gotta get to the show.
Standing 20 feet back from the edge of center stage, I had taken my usual dose of The Dragon and was waiting for the show to start. Sharon next to me, smiling like she knew this would be a special night.
After getting “… everything just exactly perfect …” - “Jack Straw” rips out, soaring on eagles’ wings. Clear, crisp, and LOUD! No hesitatin’! Oh man, did you HEAR THAT?!? No furtive noodling, just sure-footed MAJESTY!
Toward the end of “They Love Each Other” Sharon leads me out of the middle of the crowd to a bit a less frantic space. I see Jonathan in his “PeterBuilt” cap, head and shoulders above the crowd in wide-eyed amazement.
Sharon goes “up-front-on-the-left” to dance with our crew of movers and shakers and I spend most of the show in-between quiet reverence and ecstatic delight.
Somewhere in the middle of “Playin’ in the Band’” I find myself way up in the back sittin’ down and sharin’ some smoke with “Young Guy” Stephen Young. We both allow that this has, indeed, been one for the ages, when I hear the opening notes to “China Cat.” Holy Shit! How long has it been?” I jump up and start heading down to the stage.
The audience parts like tall grass, as I stumble-dance to the front of the crowd.
I’m up-front and center-stage by the time the first verse is sung.
The rest of the night goes by like a dream, indeed so does the rest of that particular run of shows and that winter up in Rio Nido.
By Spring something is definitely WRONG with our bohemian Ozzie & Harriet Act. By Summer, it was all but OVER and we hadda make a new plan.
Since then things got better, things got worse, and things got better again. My life is real good now.
But that night at Winterland, 12/29/1977, EVERYTHING was lined up and lit up by the moon and the stars. We were at some kinda peak experience.
I’m glad I got the tapes and the CD.