Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Grateful Dead in North Carolina and Virginia 1968-1995 (Building A Bridge To The New South)

A poster for the Grateful Dead performance at Duke University's basketball arena, Cameron Indoor Stadium, on December 8 1973, one of the first Dead shows in the New South
Here in the 21st Century, the Grateful Dead are now one of the most iconic Classic Rock bands, and even those who are indifferent to their music recognize their long-standing and far-reaching popularity. To some extent, this is true of many great 60s artists, like The Rolling Stones, Santana or Fleetwood Mac. Yet the Grateful Dead had a very different historical arc than many of their peers. After releasing a few true classic rock songs in 1970, the Grateful Dead grew their audience by live performance and touring rather than recordings and radio play. One distinct characteristic of the Grateful Dead's success in the 1980s was that they continued to expand their audience far beyond its original parameters, even when radio play had completely dried up.

The Grateful Dead were a San Francisco band, but they first started to earn some real money in the Northeast. First they conquered Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, then New Jersey and then Philadelphia. By playing a city over and over, they got fans to want to see them multiple times, and to bring their friends and relations as well. By the time of their "retirement" in 1974, the Dead also had loyal audiences in Boston, Connecticut and Chicago, among other places, from repeatedly playing the same area. In all those places, however, they had begun with the loyal support of hip underground FM radio and some underground cachet, back when the Dead were still "underground." That formula could never last forever, and yet the Dead continued to expand their footprint.

In the 1970s, North Carolina and Virginia were hardly Deadhead territory. Sure, there were young people and music was very popular, but there weren't that many big cities, and rock bands didn't tour the South much, relatively speaking. Yet a close look at the Dead's touring schedules in the 1970s shows the Grateful Dead making a go of building an audience in North Carolina and Virginia. By the 1980s, even with the Dead out-of-fashion and no new albums, the Dead got bigger than ever in the region. It helped, of course, that seeing Dead shows made audiences want to see more Dead shows. But it wasn't an accident. The Dead took advantage of the economics of rock touring to build themselves a broader foundation for the future, a future they would cash in on after "Touch Of Grey." This post will look at the touring history of the Grateful Dead in Virginia and North Carolina.

Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina
North Carolina and Virginia Popular Music History
North Carolina and Virginia were the northernmost of the Confederate slave states, and they were bound together by primarily producing tobacco. Thus the history and economies of both states were inextricably linked. Western Virginia (including the separate state of West Virginia) was also coal country, so in the latter part of the 19th century, Virginia was an important junction for rail transport of coal. Ultimately, with cotton, tobacco, coal and railroads, the inevitable result was a textile industry throughout Virginia and North Carolina, particularly in the rural areas.

Unlike great Northeastern cities, where ports and industries lead to giant metropolises like New York and Philadelphia, North Carolina and Virginia were more sparsely populated. Farming and mining take up a lot of land, so there wasn't the concentration of factories that there were in the North. The cities in North Carolina and Virginia tended to be medium-sized, like Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina, and Richmond and Roanoke in Virginia. These cities tended to act as transportation centers for agricultural products, coal and textiles. They were important economic centers, but they did not have huge populations.

Central North Carolina, known as the Piedmont, had an important blues tradition that dated back to the 1930s. Elizabeth Cotten, of Carrboro, NC (near Chapel Hill), who wrote "Freight Train" and "Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie," was a well-known exponent of that style. However, Piedmont-style blues only had an indirect, if interesting, affect on American popular music. The Southern music capitals were Nashville, for country music, Memphis for soul, blues and Elvis and to some extent Birmingham, AL for jazz. North Carolinians and Virginians loved music, of course, but they mostly consumed music from elsewhere in the South. The indigenous scenes were on the Coast, in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where there were distinct R&B dance traditions for "Beach Music" and "The Shag," but those are tributaries rather than main currents.

Classic 60s rock bands mostly played in New York and California, and points in between. It is no accident that many of the great Fillmore-era venues were along the same highways. Bands flew by plane and their equipment often followed by truck, so gigs were often nearby. If a band had a big date in Chicago, they would play Detroit and Omaha before and after. Southern cities weren't really on that circuit, so very few of the legendary sixties rock bands played in Virginia or North Carolina. Sure, The Rolling Stones played three North Carolina dates in November '65 (Raleigh, Greenboro and Charlotte) and Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees at Charlotte Coliseum in 1967, but in general there were a lot more shows by Elvis Presley in those days than, say, Ten Years After.

From DC to Atlanta (Touring Economics 101)
The Grateful Dead were of course the poster children for California hippies, and that wasn't always going to be popular in some parts of the country. The Dead themselves, like most rock bands, were often not anxious to go to places in the 60s and 70s where long-haired musicians and fans were greeted with suspicion. Garcia had driven around the South with Sandy Rothman in 1964, and even though he shaved off his beard, it appears that the trip played a part in Jerry thinking that being a bluegrass musician in the South was not a career option. The Dead, by nature and preference, were a far better fit in places like Manhattan. They were also popular with big-city suburbs, as most of the members of the band were from such places. The weather is nicer in Palo Alto than it is in Princeton, NJ, but otherwise I assure you they are pretty much the same. So it wasn't surprising that the South was not Dead territory in the 60s.

Still, the Dead had managed to stake out a couple of Southern strongholds in the 60s. One was Miami, and South Florida in general. Now, Miami is southern, and proud of it, but it's a resort area on an ocean, not an old agricultural state that fought a civil war. Miami in the 60s was apparently a pretty fun place, and thanks mainly to a promoter named Marshall Brevetz, the Dead had some pretty good shows in the area, starting way back in '68. It didn't hurt that the Dead played the first free concert in the Miami area, back on April 14, 1968. Still, Florida is at the lower right hand corner of America, so bands like the Dead often just flew there, or alternately played Texas on their way East.

Atlanta was a different matter. Atlanta had only been founded in 1835, when it was called "Terminus." 1835, believe it or not, is relatively recent for a city in the Old South. By the mid-1960s, Atlanta was booming, and there were a lot of young people, some with long hair. Some Florida hippies, who lived in Macon, GA, regularly started playing for free in Atlanta's Piedmont Park, even though their band didn't have a name. Promoter Alex Cooley put on the hugely successful Atlanta Pop Festival at a NASCAR track on July 4th weekend of 1969. To celebrate the success of the event, he flew the Grateful Dead into town direct from Chicago for a free concert on Monday, July 7. That Macon band, now known as The Allman Brothers Band, played early in the day, and several bands later the Grateful Dead closed it out at night. From that day onwards, the Dead owned Atlanta.

After 1969, the Dead always had a good booking in Atlanta. However, in order to make it work, they had to find a way to get down to Atlanta. If they trucked all their equipment down from the Northeast, that took a couple of days, and that meant no gigs. If they flew, with their massive sound system, that meant a lot of money. In order to get to Atlanta profitably, the Dead had to have paying gigs between Washington DC and Atlanta. Exactly where didn't entirely matter. That was how touring worked. Once a band had built a market in one place, they had to build a market near it, so they could hopscotch across the region. So the Dead looked to build a bridge to Atlanta, through Virginia and North Carolina. They couldn't have done it in the 60s, but by the 1970s the time was nigh.

Willis Carrier, inventor of commercial air conditioning, with the first "Chiller," in 1922. Air conditioning had a profound effect on migration patterns in America, particularly after WW2
Willis Carrier and The New South
Up until the first half of the 20th century, the South was mostly a thinly-populated agricultural area, with a few transportation centers to move goods to market. There are a lot of reasons that this changed after World War 2, and particularly the 60s: high tech in Raleigh/Durham, banking in Charlotte, opposition to smoking, the decline of the Northeastern industrial base, cheap textiles from Asia, and many other factors. However, all these factors are secondary to the influence of Willis Carrier, the father of the "New South."

Who was Willis Carrier? He commercialized air conditioning. His initial patent was in 1907, and his first company was in 1915, focused on managing the air in factories. Residential air conditioning existed in the 1920s, but it was the province of the rich, held up by the Great Depression, WW2 and other historical events. However, by the 1960s air conditioning had spread to the middle class, and the humid south was made livable. Say what you want about Research Triangle Park or tobacco farming--without Willis Carrier, the Northeast was not moving to the Sun Belt, and definitely not moving to the humid south. But since they did, temperate southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, which were still in striking distance of Northeastearn transportation corridors, began a boom that has not stopped. With many transplants from all over, states like Virginia and North Carolina started to lose the stodginess that had characterized them before, particularly with respect to young people. And particularly with respect to young people anxious to hear weird hippie rock bands, just as if they were in Princeton or Boston.

The Bridge To The New South: Mapping The Territory
May 12, 1968 The Dome, Virginia Beach, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday-two shows)
The Grateful Dead's first foray into the New South was brief. On May 12, 1968 they played at The Dome in Virginia Beach. There are actually several Virginias, if you will, but there is only one beach. Imagine, for example, if Northern California just had Santa Cruz, or New Jersey just had Long Branch. The entire state could only go to one beach, and all seaside activity would revolve around it. The York River and the James River split Virginia, and the Eastern side of the York River has a separate economy from Richmond and the center. A large Navy base and shipbuilding industry in Norfolk and Newport News, combined with the only beach, made Virginia Beach a significant resort area. The Dome was used regularly for rock concerts and dances, but it was a smaller venue that was part of an older, pre-Fillmore concert economy. The Dead's appearance doesn't seem to have had much impact, as they did not return to Virginia for five years.

An aerial shot of Wallace Wade Stadium at Duke University, probably from the 50s or 60s. Although the facility has been upgraded, the stadium has the same open-ended layout today.
April 24, 1971 Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Grateful Dead/Paul Butterfield Blues Band/Beach Boys/New Riders Of The Purple Sage (Saturday)
The Grateful Dead's first appearance in North Carolina was at an outdoor concert in the football stadium at Duke University. Duke had always been a respected institution, but it did not have the high profile it does today. Much of Duke's profile comes from the basketball rivalry with the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, just 8 miles away. In fact, this rivalry was largely invented by Dick Vitale and ESPN in the 1980s, because ESPN needed something to sell, and newly-arrived Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski ("Coach K") made a convenient foil for UNC coach Dean Smith.

Durham was the headquarters of Washington Duke American Tobacco Company, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. Most of Duke's personal fortune ended up with Duke University. Durham, too, was a huge rail center, mostly shipping tobacco and textiles. Durham was just 30 miles from Raleigh, the state capitol since the 18th century. In between was Chapel Hill, where UNC was founded in 1795. North Carolina was a basketball state rather than a football state, mainly because college games were broadcast throughout the state starting in the 1950s, by a syndicator known as Jefferson Pilot Sports (now Ray-Com). However, the principal rivalry was between UNC and nearby North Carolina State, in Raleigh. NC State was the initial basketball power, and UNC perpetually tried to dethrone them. Certainly in the mid-70s, NC State was a national power, with the great David Thompson at guard. Duke were rivals of UNC, certainly, but no more than Wake Forest or any other conference foe. Duke basketball in the 70s did not have memorable players or coaches (ok, Duke improved under Bill Foster in the late 70s, and even made the NCAA title game in '78, behind Mike Gminski and Jim Spanarkel).

Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the surrounding towns are called "The Triangle." It was not only the center of government, but also of high-tech development, particularly in drug manufacture and biotechnology. Thus the Triangle was an area where there were many transplants from the Northeast and Midwest, often people having gone to professional school at Duke, UNC-CH or NC State. Starting in the 70s, the Triangle was the place in North Carolina where non-Southern attractions like Chinese food and the Grateful Dead found some favor.

Wallace Wade Stadium was built in the 1930s and has a capacity of about 42,000. The 1971 show appears to have been underwritten by Duke University. At this time, many campuses had a tradition of big outdoor concerts near the end of term. UNC-Chapel Hill had an event called "Jubilee," but this had gotten out of hand by the early 1970s. On Saturday, May 1, 1971, the Jubilee was held on the UNC football practice field (Navy Field), an all-day show headlined by the Allman Brothers. A huge crowd had a great time, and UNC never had another Jubilee. The Duke event seems to have been similar to Jubilee, but it had a different arc.

The Grateful Dead had played Bangor, ME on Thursday, April 22, and they were opening a five-night stand at Fillmore East on Sunday, April 25. Yet they flew down for the Saturday Duke show, which means it was financially worth their while. The Beach Boys were on the bill because they were being booked by Bill Graham's Millard Agency, so Graham no doubt had a hand in bringing the Dead in on it. We have some eyewitness accounts, however, and apparently when Sam Cutler saw the sparse crowd, he initially refused to let the Dead go on stage. This would have been because he would have been afraid of not getting paid. Garcia, apparently, said "cut it out, Sam, we'll play," and both the New Riders and the Dead played sparkling sets to a sparse crowd.

Similar to the Virginia Dome event, other than the lucky few who saw the concert, the Dead's first foray into North Carolina didn't have much impact. It was a great week in the Triangle, with the Dead and the Allmans on consecutive weekends. However, the Allmans could pack UNC because they had toured relentlessly around North Carolina and the South, while the Dead were largely unknown there. The Dead would not return to North Carolina for two more years.

The poster for the Grateful Dead show at the College Of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA on September 11, 1973
September 11-12, 1973 William and Mary Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA (Tuesday-Wednesday)
The Grateful Dead returned to Virginia after a five year absence, at the College Of William And Mary. William and Mary was established in 1693, just after Harvard, and has an undergraduate population of about 6000. The college is in Williamsburg, where Virginia was first colonized, located East of the James River, just off I-64, so it is part of the Newport News/Norfolk/Hampton area of Virginia. It is pretty easy to discern why the band played two nights in Williamsburg: they had nowhere else to go and they needed the money.

On the September 1973 tour, the Dead had two big weekends booked to open the tour: September 7 and 8 in Nassau Coliseum, and September 14 and 15 in Providence. In fact, the Friday night show in Providence (September 14) was canceled, but the Dead had nothing to do in between and several nights of hotel bills to pay. Whatever they got paid for playing Tuesday and Wednesday night at William And Mary, it was more than not getting paid. The shows would probably have been partially subsidized by a campus entertainment fund, or at least underwritten. William And Mary Hall was the gymnasium, which had opened in 1971 and had a concert capacity of up to 13,000.

The Dead's return to Virginia has passed into legend. Not only did they bring a horn section, itself unprecedented, but a young Hampton-area pianist named Bruce Hornsby saw them for the first time at William And Mary. Part of the legend of the shows was that the first show had folding chairs on the gym floor, and at the end of the show, Phil Lesh said "we're having so much fun, why don't you come back tomorrow night and we'll do it without the chairs." To the crowd, it was as if the Dead had just decided to hang out and have fun, and the show was an instant myth in the state. Of course, public universities don't do anything by accident, and the second night had to have been pre-scheduled. It would not have been announced to assure good ticket sales for the first night. No matter--everybody had a good time, and the Dead started their run in the Hampton area of Virginia.

December 8, 1973 Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Grateful Dead (Saturday)
The Grateful Dead's return to North Carolina had some similarities to their return to Virginia. The Dead had a very odd touring schedule in December 1973, with a Thursday, December 6 date in Cleveland and a show on Wednesday, December 12, 1973 at The Omni in Atlanta, a huge basketball arena. Although the Dead had no real following in North Carolina, you can see the mid-point was between Cleveland and Atlanta. So it was back to Duke University, this time at the basketball arena.

Cameron Indoor Stadium was built in 1940, capacity 8,800 and it was a standard, if old gym. However, it was far older than most of the newer facilities that the Dead would play. It was a Saturday night, and the term was probably ending, and Duke would have helped subsidize the finances of the show. I don't know whether this show was sold out, but I get the impression it was well-attended. In any school, word passes from the Seniors to the Freshmen, and the '73 show would have stayed in people's memories. Duke also has a national student body--indeed international--so any Blue Devils who got on the bus would return to New Jersey or New Mexico or New Delhi to wave that flag. 

A poster for the Grateful Dead at Charlotte Coliseum on Monday, December 10, 1973. This was the band's first show in Charlotte
December 10, 1973 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Monday)
There was a good argument for playing Duke on a Saturday night, but a Monday night in Charlotte was just a routing gig. The Dead had no ready-made audience in Charlotte, and there wasn't much going on in the city at the time. That wasn't important-the band needed a payday, and playing shows like this would pay dividends down the line.

The original Charlotte Coliseum, at 2700 East Independence Blvd, was built in 1955 with a capacity of around 8600. Charlotte was conveniently located between various points of transit, but there wasn't much there in the early 1970. There had been an effort to bring professional sports to the South with the American Basketball Association, and the Charlotte Coliseum was one of the "home" arenas of the Carolina Cougars of 1969-74 (who also played in Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Greensboro), but the state's enthusiasm for college basketball did not extend to the pros. Larry Brown began his coaching career for the Carolina Cougars in 1972, but after 1974 they moved to St. Louis. Yet by the 1980s, Charlotte would become a thriving banking center, with plenty of Northern ("Yankee") transplants, and it would get it's own NBA franchise. The old Charlotte Coliseum was superseded by a newer one, and the older one has been known by various names. It is currently called the Bojangles Coliseum.

None of that future was probably apparent when the Dead played Charlotte on a Monday night in 1973. They must have drawn some sort of a crowd to the old arena, because they would come back, but I highly doubt the place was anywhere near sold out. So it must have been a great time, dancing and hanging out with plenty of room, while the 1973 Dead rocked into the night.

[update: Commenter Alan McDeadhead gives us an eyewitness report. It seems almost no one was there]
Thanks for this blog. I had no trouble getting a front row seat in Charlotte, Dec. 10, 1973. Garcia was directly in front of me about 10-12 feet away, and at first I thought he was a guitar tech or roadie when he first walked out. He had shaved off his beard since I saw my first show in Washington, DC 6/9/1973. I could see fine, obviously, except that a solid row of police officers stood across the front of the stage, which was only about five feet or so from the floor. The Dead had a strong following from UNC-Charlotte. I think I knew half the crowd. Only the floor seats had been sold; most seats were the sloping seats extending up three sides - all empty. A scaled down version of the "Wall of Sound" was definitely used (a friend with ties to the Dead confirmed this); it looked huge to me, like 50 feet tall, and only maybe 30 feet from my seat - sound was excellent, not loud, perfect really. My guess is perhaps, 800 to 1000 seats were filled. Someone with a seating chart of that venue (still in use )- could tell. I wish the songs excluded from the download release will turn up - but, I think they were damaged. I did not see any taping or even people with cameras. I still have the ticket stub...somewhere, and promised to my friend of the Dead. I still live in Charlotte. The show ended with "Casey Jones" and somebody used a fire extinguisher or or something similar to blows "puffs of smoke" like a steam locomotive toward the end of the song. Lesh looked up with surprise, or delight. Scripted? I doubt it. BUT REALLY COOL!

Back in the 1971-72 season, the ABA Virginia Squires had played some home games in the Roanoke Civic Center, and Julius Erving operated on opposing players
July 27, 1974 Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke, VA; Grateful Dead (Saturday)
In 1974, the Dead's foray into the South was in the seemingly unlikely place of Roanoke, VA. The Roanoke show was between Chicago (Thursday July 25 at International Amphitheater) and a big show at the Capitol Center in Landover, MD, for the DC market (Monday July 29). They needed a show in between, and Roanoke seems to have been available. Keep in mind that during the Summer, neither William And Mary nor Duke would have been booking shows.

Roanoke is the principal city in Southwestern Virginia, between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. It was established in 1852 as Big Lick (for a salt lick), and by the end of the 19th century it was an important transportation center, linking Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The Roanoke River bisects the town, and several railroads, particularly the Norfolk and Western. The principal commodity of the region was coal, and it was what made Roanoke important. 

The Roanoke Civic Center, at 710 Williamson Road NE, was built in 1971, with a capacity of 9828. It was briefly one of the homes of the Virginia Squires ABA team (along with Richmond and Hampton Coliseums and The Scope), but just for the 1971-72 season. As coal declined in the end of the 20th century, Roanoke has faded with it. In 1970, the population was 92,00, down from a 1960 population of 97,000. The Roanoke Metropolitan Area would have been one of the smallest regions that the Dead played in 1974 that was not a specific college show. The Roanoke Civic Center has since been through various renovations and is now called The Berglund Center.

There are some fond memories of this show on the Archive, but none of them are very specific. Donna Godchaux apparently had a stomach ailment and only sang briefly. I would be very curious to know whether the show came close to selling out, whether there were seats or not, and how many of the people attending were just local rock fans instead of hard core Dead fans. As the Dead became more and more popular, shows all over the country had a greater percentage of people who had seen the Dead numerous times and knew all the records. In a place like Roanoke in 1974, however, a fair number of people would have just been going because it seemed like fun, like seeing J. Geils or Dave Mason when they were in town. In a place like Roanoke, rock fans would often pretty much see any band that came to town, because there weren't as many opportunities to see bands as in bigger cities.

Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Duke University basketball arena, in Durham, NC
The Bridge To The New South: Building The Trestles
The Grateful Dead retired from touring in October, 1974, but unlike their contemporaries they did not disband. After a year of recording and occasional shows, they returned to the road in June, 1976. The Dead were now a veteran band rather than a hip, current one, but fortunately they had built a loyal fan base in places like the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast. However, with touring as their only guaranteed source of income, the Dead had to begin expanding their touring footprint in order to continue to tour profitably throughout the year. Throughout the late 1970s, the Dead's touring schedule shows that they made a conscious effort to build on their initial forays into North Carolina and Virginia.

A shot of the interior of Page Auditorium at Duke University, where the Jerry Garcia Band played two shows on April 4, 1976. The 1232-seat theater has a very steep angle looking towards the stage (the shot is from a Wayne Shorter concert on February 11, 2011)
April 4, 1976 Page Auditorium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Jerry Garcia Band (Sunday early and late)
An early indication of the Dead's touring strategy in the South can be seen by looking at a Jerry Garcia Band show at Duke University on Sunday, April 4, 1976. In San Francisco and New York City, Jerry Garcia shows were seen somewhat distinctly from Grateful Dead shows, a privilege afforded by their frequency. In the rest of the country, that was not the case. Any Deadheads were saddling up if Jerry was coming to town.

Once the Grateful Dead stopped touring, Jerry Garcia started touring nationally particularly on the East Coast. Garcia/Saunders, Legion of Mary and various Jerry Garcia Bands all had extended tours of the Northeast. By 1976, I believe Garcia's touring was facilitated by John Scher. Scher had come into the Dead's orbit when he booked them in Jersey City in 1972, but he was soon to take on a greater role. Whether Scher was just advising or actually organizing Garcia's tours in 1976 isn't clear to me, but he would soon take on the task of scheduling Garcia and Dead tours East of the Mississippi River, through his company Monarch Entertainment (Bill Graham Presents handled the Dead in the West).

In Spring 1976, the Jerry Garcia Band had a Saturday night show (April 3) at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC and a Monday night show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta (April 5). With an open night, Durham, NC was just about exactly half-way. Page Auditorium, built around the 1930s, was a 1232-seat auditorium, and a marvelous old building. JGB played an early and late show, so the house was turned over. It must have been a great show. According to an eyewitness, the late show was not added until the early show sold out, a sensible strategy. The show was actually videotaped by Duke, but the existing copy is in an old format and attempts to recover it have failed.

College communities don't have long memories, but since the Dead had played Duke in Fall '73, there must have still been a few Seniors around by Spring 1976 that hadn't forgotten. In 1976, seeing the Jerry Garcia Band looked like as close as you were going to get to ever seeing the Grateful Dead. So John Scher found Garcia found a good payday between DC and Atlanta, and kept the flame burning in North Carolina. The payoff would come a few months later.

The Grateful Dead's return to touring in the Summer of 1976 was heralded by some high-profile shows at smaller theaters in their best market, with radio broadcasts in most cities. Since the shows were sold out by mail order only, it made the Dead an attractive proposition, instead of seeming like a band past their time. By Summer's end, however, it was time to make some money. First there were two shows in smaller stadiums in August (Colt Stadium in Hartford August 2 and Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City on August 4). Then the real tour began in September, and the first two stops were at Duke and William And Mary.

September 23, 1976 Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Grateful Dead (Thursday-tour leg start)
September 24, 1976 William and Mary Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday)
The Grateful Dead's Fall 76 tour began with a Thursday night show at Duke, followed by Friday night at William And Mary, and Saturday night (September 25) at the Capitol Center in Landover. Capitol Center would be the big payday, but the rusty band could get some licks in with some confidence that the shows would be well-attended. Since both shows were at Universities, the band could be confident that their fee would be paid, no small matter for a band on the road.

The Dead's show at Cameron Indoor Stadium was the third time at Duke for the band, and the fourth for Garcia. Few people had probably seen all four shows, but the number of shows meant that there would have been a goodly number of people who had an older brother or a dorm mate who had seen them or heard about a prior Dead show, so there would have been a buzz that it would be a real good time, even for undergraduates who may have known nothing much about the band.

The Dead had not played William And Mary since the two shows in 1973, but a freshman in Fall 73 would have been a Senior in Fall 76, so there would be a few memories around. Williamsburg isn't really near to any big cities, so a lot of undergraduates would have gone to the show just for fun, and the evidence suggests that enough of them had a pretty memorable time. A commenter on the Archive says that there were no chairs on the gym floor in '76, so it sounds like it was pretty relaxed. I would very much like to know if either the Duke or W&M shows sold out, because if they didn't, it means a lot more people showed up just to check it out. I am actually inclined to think that was the case, because I think many of those people who just "checked it out" got on the bus and never got off.

Elvis Presley played The Mosque in Richmond on February 5 1956
May 25, 1977 The Mosque, Richmond, VA: Grateful Dead (Wednesday)
The Mosque, at 6 North Laurel Street in Richmond, was built in 1927 as a Shriner's Temple. Unlike the Avalon, another former Shriner's Temple, The Mosque had seats. However, the 3,565-capacity Mosque is fondly remembered as a rock venue. It is now known as The Altria Theater.

Richmond is the capital city of Virginia, and was an industrial center of sorts as well. It is on I-95, but West of the James River (Hampton and Newport News are East of the James). Richmond is roughly halfway from Washington DC and Durham. Because of the ease of driving I-95, Richmond is sort of the Southern end of the Eastern Seaboard. Richmond, a somewhat conservative city, did not have much of a rock music scene until the late 70s.  The Grateful Dead had not yet played Richmond until they played the Mosque.

The Grateful Dead played a Wednesday night show at The Mosque because they could. The band had a very lucrative gig on Sunday night (May 22) at an infamous concrete barn on the outskirts of Miami, called The Sportatorium, which deserves an analysis of its own. On Thursday (May 26) there was a show at the Baltimore Civic Center, covering the DC market and on Saturday (May 28) the tour would end in Hartford, CT, where the Dead were hugely popular. That left three nights on the road, so by booking a gig at a smaller theater, the Dead covered their bills for the night. Any Deadheads lucky enough to see them on that Wednesday night in Richmond who didn't like that show were never going to like the band.

April 12, 1978 Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Grateful Dead (Wednesday)
April 14, 1978 Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA: Grateful Dead  (Friday)
April 15, 1978 William and Mary Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday)
For the Spring '78 tour, the Dead were able to capitalize on their newly-established base to hop up the Eastern Seaboard. The tour had begun with three shows in Florida (April 6-8), including one at the Sportatorium (April 7), followed by two in Atlanta at the Fox (April 10-11). A weekend in North Carolina and the Virginias made a good link to ever-reliable Pittsburgh Civic on Tuesday (April 18). By 1978, Duke was a sure thing, even on a Wednesday night. The Dead had built an audience at the college and in the region, and I'm pretty sure Cameron was packed for the '78 show.

Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg was a long way from Richmond. Va Tech (pronounced "Vah Tech") was the engineering school in the Virginia University system, and it had a large student body in a relatively isolated, if scenic, location. The students would have come from all over Virginia, and when they graduated they would spread out all over Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Blacksburg isn't too far from Roanoke, so there were probably some repeat visitors who had seen the band in 1974. But other than football, there wasn't much to do in Blacksburg, so the house probably had quite a few people, perhaps a majority, who had never seen the band. By 1978, that would have been unthinkable on the West Coast or in the Northeast. The Dead probably didn't build an audience this night in Blacksburg, per se, but anyone they converted would be seeing them around the region for the next 17 years.

William And Mary, like Duke, was another sure thing. A commenter says that chairs had returned to the gym floor for the 1978 show, perhaps an indicator that the school wasn't entirely comfortable with the band. In a way, it didn't matter. The audience that the Dead had built by playing William And Mary would soon migrate over to the Hampton Coliseum

April 16, 1978 Huntington Civic Center, Huntington, WV: Grateful Dead (Sunday)
Huntington, West Virginia is in fact a long way from the tobacco corridor of Richmond and Durham. It is nearly 400 miles and 6 hours from Richmond (and 5 hours from Greensboro, NC), all over twisty (if scenic) mountain highways. Strategically, a show in West Virginia was not actually going to build the Grateful Dead much of an audience in Virginia or North Carolina. However, it was on a Sunday night after two shows in Virginia, so it made economic sense to book the date.

Huntington is on the Ohio River, and it was a major transportation hub for coal. In 1871, it became the terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. Though Huntington itself has a population of just around 50,000, it is the largest metropolitan area in West Virginia. The Huntington Civic Center with a capacity of 9,000, was built in 1977. The venue had high hopes, but it rapidly ran into a variety of financial difficulties. It is now known as The Big Sandy Superstore Arena. This show was probably pretty strange, but I have to do more research on it.
update: According to a Commenter who went to West Virginia University in the 80s, the '78 Huntington show reputedly only had 20 to 200 people in attendance.

The Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association had played in various Virginia arenas from 1971-76, including the Hampton Coliseum
May 3, 1979 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Thursday-tour leg start)
May 4, 1979 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday)
The Spring '79 tour was a herald of things to come.  It didn't hurt that the arrival of Brent Mydland provided some new energy for the band. By this time, the Dead could play Charlotte on a Thursday night. Duke was a University, and shows could not always be booked. The first week of May was probably finals week, and schools rarely book big shows then. However, Charlotte was just two-and-a-half hours from Durham, so Triangle residents could get there easily enough.

The significant development in '79 was the Dead's first booking at Hampton Coliseum, in Hampton, VA. Hampton was at the foot of the James River, just half an hour down I-64 from Williamsburg, so the Dead were still on familiar ground. The Hampton Coliseum, at 1000 Coliseum Drive, had opened in 1970, with a capacity of 13, 800, and for many years was known as the Hampton Roads Coliseum. It was another ABA home arena, one of the homes of the regional Virginia Squires from 1970-76. The Squires, now forgotten, were the former Oakland Oaks, and back in 71-72 they had featured Charlie Scott, Dr. J and George Gervin (I saw Gervin drop 46 on the Warriors one night back in the 80s, what a player). Hampton was just 70 minutes from Richmond and 3 hours from both Durham and DC, all easy freeway driving, so it was custom made for traveling Deadheads.

On this tour, the show after Hampton was Baltimore Civic on Saturday, May 5, so Hampton fit perfectly, for the crew and the audience. The previous year the Dead had played Duke and William And Mary. Now they were playing Charlotte and Hampton. The Dead had graduated from colleges.

The Carolina Cougars of the ABA had played at several North Carolina arenas from 1969-74, including the Greensboro Coliseum
May 1, 1980 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro NC: Grateful Dead (Thursday)
May 2, 1980 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday)
The Grateful Dead returned to the Southeast in 1981. This time they made their debut at yet another North Carolina venue, the Greensboro Coliseum. Greensboro was in almost the exact center of the state. Starting in the 1850s, it had been a textile and transportation center, as the two major North Carolina railroads intersected near Greensboro. In 1980, the population of Greensboro was only 150,000 (in 2010 it was 269,000), but the importance of the city far outweighed its size.

The Greensboro Coliseum, at 1921 West Gate Boulevard, had been built in 1959 with a capacity of 15,000. Greensboro was less than 90 minutes from both the Triangle and Charlotte, and a similar distance to the Virginia border. As a result, Greensboro made a great central location for the state, and it was a popular venue for statewide events like the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament or Elvis Presley concerts. Deadheads from Charlotte, Duke or Southern Virginia could easily reach the Greensboro Coliseum. Even though the Greensboro show was on Thursday, the broad footprint meant there was a large pool of fans who could still make the show.

Although the Dead had staked their claim in the Triangle at Duke, universities have their own complications with booking. May 1 was probably during finals week. In any case, Greensboro was larger and easier for Charlotte fans to reach. Furthermore, with no resident professional teams, Greensboro had far more open dates than some arenas. Once again, the Dead were on their way up from the Fox Theater in Atlanta (Monday, April 29), with a return trip to Hampton Coliseum for the next night (May 2). The DC area followed, with a Sunday night show (May 4) at Baltimore Civic.

April 30, 1981 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC: Grateful Dead (Thursday-tour leg start)
May 1, 1981Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday)
The Dead repeated the formula the next year. They started the tour in Greensboro on a Thursday, followed by another show at Hampton on Friday, as a prelude to a big show at the Philadelphia Spectrum on Saturday (May 2). The Dead had found something that worked, and they kept doing it. A few years earlier, they were scraping by in college gyms, and now they were playing big regional arenas, all without benefit of a successful record in many years.

The Scope in Norfolk, VA, yet another home arena of the ABA Virginia Squires
April 2, 1982 Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC: Grateful Dead (Friday-tour leg start)
April 3, 1982 The Scope, Norfolk, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday)
The Grateful Dead took a bit of a step back in 1982. I don't read too much into this, except insofar as to say that any national touring act had to coordinate available dates against other touring bands, sports events, college schedules and other variables. The big date for the Dead at the beginning of the Spring '82 tour was a Monday night show (Apr 5) at the Spectrum. The Dead were so established in Philadelphia they could fill the biggest arena in Philly on a Monday night, so any other gigs they could book were gravy.

The Dead began the tour with their last appearance at Duke, playing Friday night (Apr 2) at Cameron. In the future, Cameron would simply be too small to absorb the Dead. Also, people were starting to follow the Dead around the Eastern seaboard in larger numbers, and I suspect that the presence of the traveling circus was not pleasing to the Duke administration. If I recall correctly, the Cameron show was where Jerry and Phil switched sides of the stage for the last time.

For the second date of the tour, the Dead debuted at The Scope in Norfolk, VA. Norfolk was in the same region as Hampton and William And Mary, so the band was in familiar territory. The Scope, at 201 E. Brambleton Avenue, had opened in 1971 and could fit up to 13,800 in a concert configuration. The Scope had also been a "home" arena for the Virginia Squires. I don't know what the conflict may have been with Hampton Coliseum, but the same fan base could attend.

June 22, 1982 The Mosque, Richmond, VA: Jerry Garcia Band (Tuesday)
By 1982, John Scher had Jerry Garcia regularly touring the Eastern Seaboard. Scher replicated the practice of the Dead, using the Southeast to fill in holes on the schedule and to build the audience for Garcia at the same time. The Garcia Band had played some lucrative dates with Bobby and The Midnites in New York (S. Fallsburg, June 16) and New England (New Haven-June 17, Cape Cod-June 18 and Portland-June 20). This was followed by Garcia Band dates in Pittsburg (Jun 22) and Passaic, NJ (June 24), and then a string of Garcia/Kahn acoustic shows in New York and the Northeast, so a Richmond show fit right in.

As an aside that deserves its own post, the tour history of the Jerry Garcia Band was that they tended to play the smaller arenas from which the Dead had already graduated. Anyone lucky enough to have seen the Dead at the Mosque in 1977 was surely happy to at least see Garcia there.

September 14, 1982 University Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead's Fall '82 appearance in the Southeast was a little different. They had not played the University of Virginia before, nor would they again. In this case, the Dead had great bookings at Lakeland, FL (Sunday Sep 12) and in Washington, DC (Wednesday Sep 15), so it made good sense to book a date in between. University Hall was the main gym, with a relatively small capacity of just 8,457, built in 1965. Charlottesville is in the center of the state, but since it had students from all over Virginia, there would likely have been a fair quantity of Deadheads already on campus.

November 5, 1982 Chrysler Auditorum, Norfolk, VA: Jerry Garcia Band (Friday)
The Chrysler Auditorium, built in 1972 at 215 St. Paul's Blvd, was adjacent to The Scope. The capacity was 2,500, which is about right for the Garcia Band audience at the time. Events like this kept the Dead flame burning brightly in the Southeast, even if the impact was smaller. In this case, the Garcia Band had played some dates in Texas and New Orleans, and had a DC-area show on Saturday night (U. of Maryland, Nov 6), so Southern Virginia fit right in.

April 9, 1983 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday-tour leg start)
April 10, 1983 WVU Coliseum, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV: Grateful Dead (Sunday)
Morgantown, WV, home of the University of West Virginia, is far nearer to Pittsburgh than North Carolina or Virginia. Once again, this date was just filler after a Saturday night in Hampton. The next date was Tuesday night (April 12) in Binghamton, so any paying date was better than no date. Since the tour started in Hampton on a Saturday night (April 9), it's an indicator of how profitable that booking was.

The WVU Coliseum (also known as Morgantown Coliseum) was opened in 1970, with a capacity of about 14,000. Apparently the WVU Coliseum has a concrete roof that has poor sound distribution properties, so it's no surprise the Grateful Dead didn't return. Nonetheless, comments on the Archive suggest a great time was had by everybody. It is also clear that lots of people were now traveling to follow the band, and had seen the show in Hampton the night before. This was another dynamic in Dead touring. As long as the band made short hops, much of the previous night's audience would attend a show pretty much anywhere.

update: Commenter Lee has an eyewitness account
You might think of Morgantown as a backwater place but we had a huge number of Dead Heads on campus in the early 80s(a large portion of the student body hailed from New Jersey and were well acquainted with the Dead) and we had our own local Dead cover band Nexus who played a couple of times a month to packed crowds at the Underground Railroad, our local music club (we also had a huge Punk scene too and bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Flag who played at the Railroad as well). Because of the big fan base, a lot pressure was put on the Pop Arts Committee (the student group responsible for bring bands to campus) to get the band to play WVU. Needless to say we were ecstatic when the show was announced. Unlike the Huntington show in 1978, which had reportedly 20 to 200 people in attendance, the Coliseum was sold out or nearly so and everyone had a fine time. Also the Dead were the first band allowed to hang speakers from the dome (for whatever reason previously it was thought to be a structurally unsound practice). They heard about this, which is why they opened with Samson and Delilah (gonna tear this old building down!). Lastly the local police chief was pretty uptight about the influx of Dead Heads, calling us "cult-like followers." Sure there were some arrests, but things quickly returned to normal. Mostly the visiting heads left behind Dead stickers on signs all over town.

The Grateful Dead first played Richmond Coliseum on October 8, 1983. It, too, had been one of the homes of the ABA Virginia Squires
The Bridge To The New South: When Your Night Job Pays
From today's vantage point, it is easy to forget that the Grateful Dead were not in a good economic position in 1983. They had not put out an album in some time, nor had not put out a hit album in over a decade, and their record company was hardly interested in another one. By the early 80s, bands of the Dead's generation had either gone mainstream or faded away. The Dead were still doing the same old thing, but popular music was moving further and further away from anything the band did. To top it off, the band had a giant overhead, and the health of the now middle-aged members was not improving.

What saved the Grateful Dead financially during this period was that they could tour endlessly and profitably. The Dead's unique approach made their fans want to see them again and again, in distinct contrast to many contemporary acts. The Dead, in turn, made it easier, by selling their own mail-order tickets, so interested fans could get tickets in multiple cities. While only a few hardy Deadheads could see every date on an Eastern tour, their now-older fan base was very much up for traveling a few hundred miles and seeing another show or two in the cities nearest to them.

The effort the Dead had put into creating an audience in North Carolina and Virginia was now paying off regularly. The Dead had a peculiar system, where the primary audience had the same goal as the road crew: relatively short hops on a nightly basis. The Dead had created an audience in Atlanta and Florida way back in the 60s, and they had been big in Washington DC and Philadelphia since the 1970s. With North Carolina and Virginia bridging that gap, the band could play profitable shows because traveling Deadheads could catch a few extra shows without excessive travel.

October 8, 1983 Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday-tour leg start)
October 9, 1983 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC: Grateful Dead (Sunday)
In Fall 1983, the Grateful Dead had two big shows in Madison Square Garden on a Monday and a Tuesday (Oct 10-11). but they were able to warm up with two shows in the Southeast. The tour opened on Saturday night (Oct 8) in Richmond, where the Dead finally debuted at Richmond's biggest venue, the Richmond Coliseum. The Richmond Coliseum was at 601 E. Leigh Street, and it had been built in 1971 with a capacity of 13, 500. The Coliseum, too, had been a home to the Virginia Squires, so the Dead completed the odd cycle of having played all four home venues for the long-forgotten ABA team. The Grateful Dead could play the biggest arena in Richmond on a Sunday night because they were an established commodity in Virginia.

At the Sunday night in Greensboro, now a regular stop, a Commenter reports that the Dead soundchecked "St. Stephen" in anticipation its return at Madison Square Garden.

April 13-14, 1984 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday-Saturday-tour leg start)
The Dead began their Spring '83 tour with a weekend in Hampton. By this time, Hampton was the big paying booking, as shows in Rochester (Apr 16) and Lake Placid (Apr 17) filled in until three shows in Philadelphia (Apr 19-21, at the Civic Center rather than the Spectrum because the 76ers were in the playoffs). 

October 5, 1984 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Friday--tour leg start) 
October 6, 1984 Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday)
The Fall '84 tour had a more traditional structure, It opened on a Friday in Charlotte, followed by Richmond Coliseum, and then on up Worcester, MA  on Monday (Oct 8)

November 23, 1984 Chrysler Auditorium, Norfolk, VA: Jerry Garcia and John Kahn (Friday)
Garcia and Kahn played their first acoustic date in the Southeast. John Scher's approach seems to have been that there was a possibly infinite appetite for Garcia shows, as long as there was some kind of variation over time. Fans in California or NYC Metro may have gotten their fill of Garcia and Kahn by this time, but they were a unique thing in Virginia. 

March 21-22, 1985 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Thursday-Friday-tour leg opener)
The Spring 1985 tour commenced a run of Spring tours where the Dead opened for a couple of nights in Hampton Coliseum and then headed far North, without hopping up the Coast. This was a sign of not only how much the band liked playing Hampton, but how safely profitable the shows were. Obviously the shows were packed with fans from the region, without having to depend on a huge contingent of Deadheads from outside the area. The next shows were in Springfield, MA (Mar 24-25, Sunday and Monday).

The Carolina Coliseum at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC, at 701 Assembly Street
October 31, 1985 Carolina Coliseum Arena, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC: Grateful Dead (Thursday)
November 1-2, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA: Grateful Dead (Friday-Saturday)
The Fall '85 tour showed a little adventurousness on the part of the Dead's booking, and what appears to be the last effort to go someplace new and build an audience, before it simply became too lucrative not to play the same big arenas. The Dead had their usual shows at the Fox in Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday (Oct 28-29), and two shows at Richmond Coliseum on the weekend, followed by Worcester (Monday Nov 4). That left a three-day break to be filled, which included Halloween. I doubt Duke would have taken the Dead at this point, and I don't know about the other North Carolina venues. So the Dead made their only visit to South Carolina, playing the Coliseum Arena at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. On Halloween. The Carolina Coliseum, at 701 Assembly Street, was built in 1968 and had a capacity of 12,400.

South Carolina isn't that far from North Carolina, but it's still a hike. It seems that lots of people from the Southern states could make it to Columbia who couldn't make it to Charlotte, Greensboro or Atlanta, although they had to drive pretty far. That was a problem, since the outer rim of Hurricane Gloria [update: Hurricane Gloria was the month before] a storm was pounding the Southeast with heavy rain, and a lot of people were late. No matter. The Dead's equipment was late, too, and fans arrived at the Columbia show to find the Dead and their crew on stage soundchecking.

Soundchecks sound exciting until you actually see one. The band and crewed noodled for a few hours with the house lights up. Finally, some hours after the official starting time, the band got a decent sound going on a jam. Jerry must have raised his eyebrows or something, because abruptly the house lights came down and it was all systems go, to the roar of the crowd. Halloween,  a hurricane and the Grateful Dead--what could be better? How about a Halloween show that opens with "Werewolves Of London?" The crowd lost their minds. The Dead never came back to Columbia, but it didn't matter, because that night wouldn't be topped.

March 19-21 1986 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Wednesday-Friday-tour leg opener)
Once again, the Dead opened the tour with three nights at Hampton, and then went on up to the Spectrum for three shows (Mar 23-25, Sunday-Tuesday). The Spectrum had two sports clients (Flyers and 76ers), so there were probably weekend conflicts there, but Hampton could take care of that. 

March 22-24, 1987 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Sunday-Tuesday-tour leg opener)
This time the Dead played three nights at Hampton, and then went all the way to New England for Thursday and Friday (Mar 26-27 at Hartford). This tour was after Jerry Garcia's coma recovery, and Deadheads throughout the country had been reminded that it would not last forever. From this point onwards, it no longer seemed to matter what day of the week the Dead played an arena, since they would pack it.

July 7-8, 1987 Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke, VA: Grateful Dead (Tuesday-Wednesday)
By the summer of 1987, Garcia's return to health had in itself led to a renaissance in the Dead's national appeal. The Dead had soldiered on through the 80s and come out the other side, and there was a general respect for their having survived so long. This was magnified by an historic stadium tour where the Dead would play two sets and then back Bob Dylan for a third. Dylan had been co-billed with the Dead on some dates the previous Summer, playing with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and sitting in with the Dead for a few numbers, but the Summer '87 tour was a true collaboration.

The structure of the Dead's stadium tours, started in 1986, was generally that the band would play a few huge weekend shows, and sprinkle in other dates on weekdays as they fit in. In this case, the Dead and Dylan were headlining at Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro on Saturday, July 4 and at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on Friday, July 10. In between, the Dead played Pittsburg Civic on Monday (July 6) and two shows in Roanoke Civic Center on Tuesday and Wednesday (July 7-8).

As discussed above, Roanoke and the surrounding region was a pretty small area, and there wasn't many people there, much less many Deadheads. Nonetheless, by 1987 it didn't matter. The Dead could play anywhere in Virginia or North Carolina, and fans from Charlotte, Durham, Richmond, Hampton and points in between would all make the trek.

One other thing happened that week. On Monday, July 6, The Grateful Dead released their album In The Dark, their first studio album in 7 years. Once the "Touch Of Grey" video hit MTV, the Dead could play the Moon and draw a crowd, but building an audience in the Southeastern gap between Atlanta and DC had allowed the band to get there.

After the Grateful Dead released the In The Dark album on July 6, 1987, the band could play anywhere
The Bridge To The New South: All Lanes Open
In the 1970s, the Grateful Dead had taken a chance on Virginia and North Carolina. I doubt they anticipated the massive migration and economic growth of the region, but because the Dead continued to play those states as the population swelled, an audience was built. Because a loyal fan base had started to develop in the region, the Dead continued to play North Carolina and Virginia throughout the 1980s, when they really needed regular bookings that were regularly profitable.

The regions's reward came after In The Dark. By 1988, the combination of Jerry's coma recovery, the tour with Dylan and an MTV hit meant that the Dead could fill big venues anywhere in the country. But Dead shows are unique animals, and the Dead had good reason to stick with venues and promoters that they had used before. The Dead could play anywhere after 1988, but they kept returning to North Carolina and Virginia because those areas were established strongholds. The band's loyal fans in the region got to see them for the balance of the Dead's touring history, because they had helped get the band through the first half of the 80s.

March 26-28, 1988 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Saturday-Monday)
For the Spring 88 tour, the Dead played Thursday (Mar 24) at the Omni in Atlanta, then three nights in Hampton, on their way to three nights at The Meadowlands (Mar 30-Apr 1) in New Jersey.

March 30-31, 1989 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC: Grateful Dead (Thursday-Friday)
For the Spring 89 tour, the Dead returned to Greensboro instead of Hampton. Whether this was a conscious effort to alternate states or just an accident of booking isn't plain. However, they are just 4 hours (250 miles) apart, so people from both areas could easily make the trip to either place. Once again, a North Carolina show followed Atlanta (two shows at The Omni, Mar 27-28), and they followed with another familiar venue on Sunday, Pittsburgh Civic (Apr 2).

October 8-9, 1989 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Formerly The Warlocks (Sunday-Monday-tour leg starts)
The Fall '89 Dead tour was set to begin with 5 nights at The Meadowlands (Oct 11-12, 14-16). However, after mail order tickets had been distributed, the Dead added two last-minute shows at Hampton. They were billed as Formerly The Warlocks, and Hampton got two great shows, including a "Dark Star." Obviously, the Dead would have planned this all along, but by this time they knew that Hampton would sell out instantly even without the traveling caravan of Deadheads.

October 22-23, 1989 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Sunday-Monday)
All of North Carolina had boomed since the Dead had started playing there. In 1970, North Carolina had a population of 5 million, and by 1990 it was 6.6 million (in 2015 it was 10 million). Much of that growth had been in Charlotte. The Dead had first played Charlotte in 1973, and the 1970 census had Charlotte's population at 241,420. By 1990, the population was 395, 394. Many of those new residents were from the Northeast, many of them working in the finance sector. Whenever a city is booming, an NBA franchise followed.

The Carolina Cougars of the ABA had left a long time ago. For the 1988-89 season, Charlotte got an expansion team, the Charlotte Hornets. With the team came a brand new Charlotte Coliseum. The old Coliseum was closed for a remodel (it is now Bojangles Coliseum), and a new arena was built at 100 Paul Buck Blvd. The new Charlotte Coliseum had opened in Fall 1988, and had a capacity of 23,780. The new Charlotte Coliseum would be the home of the Charlotte Hornets (who then became the Charlotte Bobcats) until 2004, when they would move to the even newer Time Warner Arena (and eventually change their name back to The Hornets).

Thus the Dead played Virginia to start the Fall tour, and after the Meadowlands and three nights at The Spectrum (Oct 18-20), they went to Charlotte for two nights on their way to Miami (Oct 25-26).

A ticket stub from the Grateful Dead/Bruce Hornsby show at Carter-Finley Stadium at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC on July 10, 1990. John Scher produced the show along with Cellar Door, who were based in Washington DC.
July 10, 1990 Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC: Grateful Dead/Bruce Hornsby and The Range (Tuesday)
The Grateful Dead played a unique show in North Carolina in 1990, playing Raleigh for the first and only time. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the second-largest city (behind Charlotte), but for most of the 20th century it wasn't much of a rock music town. However, in the Summer of 1990 the Dead were doing a huge stadium tour. In one sense, stadium tours are like any other tour--if the rig is between dates, it just costs money. So a half-filled stadium on a weekday pays a lot of bills. The Dead were playing a Sunday (July 8) at Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, and on Thursday at RFK stadium in DC, so a date in Raleigh made sense. Raleigh isn't between the two cities, but it's not too far out of the way.

Carter-Finley Stadium houses the North Carolina State football team. NC State is near downtown Raleigh, and it is the third leg of the NCAA basketball triangle, with Durham and Chapel Hill both about 40 minutes away. Whatever Dick Vitale and ESPN may tell you, the original and most powerful rivalry in the state was between NC State and UNC, with Duke as a relative afterthought. The NC State fan base is just as fanatical as either of the other two, though without a national profile.

A show in Raleigh not only served the Triangle, it was about three hours from Charlotte and a comparable distance from Richmond and Hampton. Still, it was a humid Tuesday outdoors in North Carolina and that isn't always appealing, even to locals. 35,000 showed up, more than enough to pay the bills, but about half the stadium capacity, so it was a hot, mellow evening, complete with a rainstorm and a 20-minute power outage, but it was not a zoo. The band never played Raleigh again, but another leg of the Triangle had been touched.

March 31-April 1, 1991 Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC: Grateful Dead (Sunday-Monday)
The Dead played two nights in Greensboro, after three nights at Nassau Coliseum (March 27-29) and on their way to The Omni (April 3-5).

June 11-12, 1991 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Tuesday-Wednesday)
The Dead returned to the new Charlotte Coliseum--NBA season was over--after a show at Buckeye Lake in Ohio (June 9) and on their way to RFK (June 14).

November 9, 1991 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Jerry Garcia Band (Saturday)
November 10, 1991 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Jerry Garcia Band (Sunday)
The Grateful Dead were starting to outgrow Virginia venues. The Northern Virginia market was being served by huge shows in Washington DC, and the Southern and Western parts of Virginia were within traveling range of North Carolina shows. True to form, however, the Jerry Garcia Band played the venues that the Dead had formerly played. On this tour, the Garcia Band followed two shows at the Capital Center (Nov 6-7) with shows in Hampton and Charlotte, and then returned northwards for two at The Spectrum (Nov 12-13), with Madison Square Garden to follow (Nov 15)

March 5-6, 1992 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Grateful Dead (Thursday-Friday)
The Dead played Hampton after three nights at The Omni (Mar 1-3) and before two at the Capital Center in Landover (Mar 8-9). These were the last Grateful Dead shows in Virginia, as the band's audience simply expanded beyond Hampton and Richmond Coliseums.

June 17-18, 1992 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Wednesday-Thursday)
Between two shows at Giants Stadium in New Jersey (June 14-15) and one in RFK (June 21), the Dead played a pair at Charlotte.

The "Dean Dome" (Dean Smith Center) at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Grateful Dead played here on March 24-25. 1993
March 24-25, 1993 Dean Smith Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Grateful Dead (Wednesday-Thursday)
The Dead had not played in Durham for many years because they had become too large for Duke, and there were no other suitable venues. However, by the mid-80s, UNC basketball had become so big that UNC-Chapel Hill had built a new arena, and named it after their long-time coach, the legendary Dean Smith. The Dean Smith Center, known as "The Dean Dome" had opened in 1986 with a capacity of 21,750. Many college basketball arenas are named after iconic coaches, but Dean Smith is one of the few to actually coach (for 11 years) in the one named after him.

The Dean Dome was rarely used for concerts. However, the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Area had boomed. Durham borders Chapel Hill, their downtowns are just 20 minutes apart, and there were many suburbs around them. The Dead had first played in Durham (at Duke) in 1971. The Metro Area population (which does not include Raleigh, Cary or Wake County) was just 446,075. By 1990, it had grown to 735,480. Amongst the immigrants were plenty of Deadheads. Thus two Dead shows at the Dean Dome were plausible in 1993, even though they wouldn't have been just a few years earlier.

As was often the case, the Dead were between The Omni (Mar 21-22) and the Northeast, this time The Knick in Albany (Mar 27-29). The Chapel Hill shows went very well, by all accounts. I do not know if Jerry, Bob, Phil and Vince stationed themselves at the four corners of the stage during the jam and went into a stall. In any case, the Grateful Dead had now played all three legs of the Triangle.

November 18, 1993 Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA: Jerry Garcia Band (Thursday)
November 19, 1993 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA: Jerry Garcia Band (Friday)
For this final East Coast JGB tour, they played at The Spectrum (Nov 16), followed by Richmond and Hampton. Hampton was the end of the tour. 

March 22-23-24, 1995 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC: Grateful Dead (Wednesday-Friday)
Charlotte got one final bite of the apple in Spring '95. The Dead had three nights at The Spectrum (Mar 17-19) and four at The Omni (Mar 26-27, 29-30), and they played three at Charlotte in between. In total, the Grateful Dead played 28 shows in North Carolina and 37 in Virginia, with some Jerry Garcia shows sprinkled in as well. The Dead left a lasting legacy in the two states, and the region returned the favor by being a loyal and enthusiastic fan base throughout the band's existence.

There are a few other dates that don't really fit into this narrative, but I am including them for completeness.
June 8, 1973 Lake Whipporwill, Warrenton, VA: Old And In The Way
Old And In The Way played a dawn set at a bluegrass festival in Virginia, just a day before the big shows at RFK stadium with the Allman Brothers. Warrenton was less than an hour from DC, mostly on I-66 and an easy drive. However, while people in bluegrass circles were aware that Old And In The Way might appear, Garcia's presence was not widely advertised, so it wasn't part of any commercial strategy.

September 24, 1984 The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA: Bobby And The Midnites
Bob Weir toured heavily throughout the 1980s, and he built an audience that enjoyed seeing him regularly, even if that audience wasn't as large as Garcia's. However, Weir built that audience in places where he played a lot, like the Northeast and the Mountain West, and didn't do that legwork in the Southeast. This Bobby And The Midnites show in Norfolk was really his only effort.

August 5, 1988 Classic Amphitheatre, Richmond, VA: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman/Bruce Cockburn/Michelle Shocked
Weir, unlike Garcia, was willing to tour as part of a package with other acts. Weir and Wasserman appeared with Bruce Cockburn and Michelle Shocked in sheds around the country. Weir never made himself a draw in the Southeast, but once Garcia died, it didn't matter, and Ratdog and other groups played regularly around the Southeast. Indeed, Dead And Company played Greensboro in November, 2015.

November 21, 1992 The Floodzone, Richmond, VA: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman/Chris Whitley

November 22, 1992 Trax, Charlottesville, VA: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman


  1. Virginia Deadhead here, loved the piece on how the love spread our way. A couple of (admittedly minor) corrections I'd suggest.

    No one in VA ever says Vah-Tech, except clueless sports announcers. Nowadays people around the DMV just say "Tech" but during the show's time frame it was generally referred to as VPI, short for the official name of Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. (Some even called it Vippie-Sue.) Never been referred to as VT University either. It's weird, I know, and Hokies can be a bit touchy on the subject. :) It's either Virginia Tech or VPI&SU.

    Also, downtown Richmond sits of the North side of the James. (Hard to sit on the West when the river mostly runs West-East.)

    Now, excuse me while I go lose myself in your archives for an hour or 3.

    1. uk, thanks so much for your kind words and comments. I muddled up the York and the James Rivers--I meant East of the York, not East of the James. Good catch.

      As to "Va Tech," well, everyone in North Carolina says "Va Tech," and, yeah, we get if from dumb sports announcers.

  2. Great piece as always. A couple of corrections. Phil and Jerry changed places at the Scope in 82. In 1983 the tour began in Richmond and then went to Greensboro. They actually sound checked St. Stephen there before the Garden.

    Not only was their strategy successful business wise but they have thought enough about the music to release the Hampton 89 shows, Hampton 88 (download series), Richmond 85, the Mosque 1977, William and Mary 1976, and Charlotte 73 (download series).

    1. DL, thanks for the kind words and the corrections. I updated the post accordingly.

    2. No, Phil and Jerry did switch sides on 4/2/82 at Duke, the first show of the tour and the night before the Scope.

    3. Phil and Jerry switched sides at Duke in 1982. I was there. I also entered the Greensboro Coliseum mid afternoon for the October 1983 show, in order to pick up tickets at will call. I can confirm the Saint Stephen soundcheck. after picking up my tickets. I started down the hallway to go back outside and meet up with my friends and heard music coming from inside the arena . I put my ear to the crack in the glass doors and could plainly hear. We all hoped we would hear it that night but, of course, they waited until New York to play it.

  3. A California correspondent reports that "EVERY one of my West Coast acquaintances who did make it back to shows in NC complained mightily about the amount of tobacco smoke that suffused every inch of air at those shows, making for an occasionally unpleasant experience."

    Berkeley, you'll recall, banned smoking in restaurants in 1971.

  4. A California correspondent reports that "EVERY one of my West Coast acquaintances who did make it back to shows in NC complained mightily about the amount of tobacco smoke that suffused every inch of air at those shows, making for an occasionally unpleasant experience."

    Berkeley, you'll recall, banned smoking in restaurants in 1971.

  5. What I really want to know about 7/27/74 is did they or did they not play an Eyes of the World encore? There is no recorded evidence that circulates.

  6. Great post!

    Scher was definitely involved in organizing Garcia Band tours 1976ff, in concert (so to speak) with local promoters.

    For readers interest in the 4/4/76 show, I have posted various bits and pieces at Neither show sold out, though the first one came close.

    Ric Carter took some amazing pix of 4/24/71, check 'em out! I love this show - "Can't you all see how beautiful this is?".

    OAITW was billed to play another bluegrass festival around Labor Day '73, but it almost certainly did not do so.

    I would be able to look at the patterns of GD-JG around the gigs they both played. It won't be a perfect fit, but generally you are right that it was that sequence, that JG would inherit rooms from which GD had graduated.

  7. It's interesting to compare this to the Dead's history in other Southern states.
    Texas and Florida, as noted, got plenty of Dead visits (though the Dead seem to have given up on Texas after the mid-'80s).
    As for the other Deep South states - Louisiana blew it with the bust; Alabama saw five shows; Mississippi and South Carolina got one each; and in Georgia they played Atlanta frequently, but never ventured to any other city in the state.
    Moving north - the Dead never set foot in Arkansas, though Oklahoma had a few shows.
    Kentucky & Tennessee didn't fare so well in the touring lottery either - Kentucky was rarely visited until the Dead's final years, but still barely beat Tennessee's meager six shows.
    The Dead's touring economics left fans in some states with rare chances and long drives!

  8. Great post, thank you. I do have one correction to share, however. Hurricane Gloria struck the East Coast at the end of September, 1985, not Halloween. The fun connection there was that the hurricane caused the ticket on sale date for the Richmond shows to be delayed by one week. Apparently, many had not gotten word of the rescheduled on-sale date, and there was literally no line at the Ticketron on the Saturday morning when we went to buy our Richmond tickets.

    Many will recall that Gloria closed out the second set of the November 1 show (right before the Day Job encore). I remember being stunned at the time both that the band pulled out such a rare treat and the weird connection to the hurricane five weeks earlier that basically ensured our ability to get tickets to that show.

    On Nov 1 in Richmond, I remember hearing talk about the late start of the Columbia show on Halloween. I do not remember ever hearing any cause for it. So, sorry that I cannot supply a better explanation and am left to just saying what it was not.

  9. Thanks for this post! I'm a long-time reader, and long-time NC Triangle resident. I have fond memories of the '89 and '91 Greensboro shows, before the building was expanded. I'm not old enough to have caught a show at Cameron Indoor, but did see the Dean Dome run in '93 (which were excellent for that era)

  10. A correspondent who attended the December 73 shows says that the Duke show (Dec 8) was definitely sold out, and the Charlotte (Dec 10) show was not. He does not recall how crowded the Charlotte show actually was.

    1. not surprised to hear that about the 12/8/783 Duke show -- the 2nd set begins with maybe the longest "take a step back" routine they ever did. pretty funny stuff!

  11. The Va Tech and William and Mary shows were my first GD road trip. I had just turned 18 the month before.

    My recollection was Cassell Coliseum was full. Not packed, but full. Very loose scene in the small parking lots on campus. That show was most memorable for the lengthy drums segment, which included most of the band and some roadies on various percussion. The start of the Rhythm Devils as a nightly event. I specifically recall seeing Steve Parish pounding on a folding chair with a hammer :)

    It was a long, slow drive the next day across the state to William and Mary. I recall Keith being pretty zonked out and not playing much at all. We stood near the back of the floor, but I don't recall if there were seats or not in front of us.

    1. Thanks RR. This kind of fits what I thought. The Dead were definitely building an audience in the Southeast back then, but they still weren't at the stage where sellouts were a given

  12. Another very interesting post and a lot to digest. But as an alum, I have to point out, it is West Virginia University (WVU) not the University of West Virginia and it is the WVU Coliseum not the Morgantown Coliseum. You kind of make it sound like Morgantown was a pit stop between Hampton and Binghamton. You might think of Morgantown as a backwater place but we had a huge number of Dead Heads on campus in the early 80s(a large portion of the student body hailed from New Jersey and were well acquainted with the Dead) and we had our own local Dead cover band Nexus who played a couple of times a month to packed crowds at the Underground Railroad, our local music club (we also had a huge Punk scene too and bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Flag who played at the Railroad as well). Because of the big fan base, a lot pressure was put on the Pop Arts Committee (the student group responsible for bring bands to campus) to get the band to play WVU. Needless to say we were ecstatic when the show was announced. Unlike the Huntington show in 1978, which had reportedly 20 to 200 people in attendance, the Coliseum was sold out or nearly so and everyone had a fine time. Also the Dead were the first band allowed to hang speakers from the dome (for whatever reason previously it was thought to be a structurally unsound practice). They heard about this, which is why they opened with Samson and Delilah(gonna tear this old building down!). Lastly the local police chief was pretty uptight about the influx of Dead Heads, calling us "cult-like followers." Sure there were some arrests, but things quickly returned to normal. Mostly the visiting heads left behind Dead stickers on signs all over town. Anyway I thought you might like some of the back story. I really dig your blogs, so keep em' coming!
    Lee M.

    1. Lee, thank you so much for the kind words and the fascinating eyewitness account. Very interesting to hear that WVU had a student body that included people from New Jersey and elsewhere as well as people from the region. Thanks too for the rumor about how thinly-attended the 78 show was. That might explain why we don't hear much about it--no one was there.

      I updated the post with some of your comments.

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  14. How do you decide that a gig was only booked because it 'paid the rent' versus being a destination gig? 3 nights in Charlotte doesn't seem to me to be just to make some $$ in-between 'real gigs'

    I was at the 11/1/85 Richmond show - I still don't know how I lived thru driving after that show

  15. How do you decide that a gig was only booked because it 'paid the rent' versus being a destination gig? 3 nights in Charlotte doesn't seem to me to be just to make some $$ in-between 'real gigs'

    I was at the 11/1/85 Richmond show - I still don't know how I lived thru driving after that show

    1. jbridme, it's true that I have made assumptions about the Dead's booking choices. However, the assumption that certain shows were routing gigs rather than "destinations" was based on some careful reasoning.

      You are correct to point out that any Dead show was always designed with netting more in receipts than in expenses, and in that sense they were all "destinations." However, for a tour to be financially successful, it wasn't just a matter of netting more than costs. Some of the shows had to be so profitable that they covered the overhead for the whole tour, with profit besides--transporting equipment, paying the crew and band, quarterly taxes and so on.

      In the early 80s, those payday gigs near the Southeast would have been at big sports arenas like Spectrum, Capitol Center or Sportatorium (in Florida). It was harder to book those shows, because dates had to be fit in around NBA or NHL teams, as well as other touring bands.

      In places like Charlotte or Richmond, there were fewer conflicts. Once the big dates were locked in at Spectrum, for example, with corresponding dates in Florida and Atlanta, then dates could be fit in between in North Carolina and Virginia.

      I grant you that the Dead built a real audience there, and by the mid-80s the SE shows must have been well worth their while. However, the dates of any of those shows were driven by bigger or harder-to-schedule dates at hugely profitable places.

  16. FTR, band made $20k for the Duke gig, and $22k for Charlotte, per GD Archives info.

  17. I saw a lot of these VA, NC and SC (1) shows over the years, being from Virginia and going to school at the University of South Carolina. Lots of fond memories and good times.

    Just a correction, the picture you show from the University of South Carolina is actually the current basketball facility, Colonial Life Arena. The Carolina Coliseum still stands but is not used much these days.

    1. unk, thanks so much, you were right. I switched the photo. Much appreciated!

  18. I'm thinking this statement might be incorrect:
    "was that Pigpen's health was in serious jeopardy, and he stopped playing with the Dead until December of 1971." since I was at the November 6 & 7 1971 harding Theater shows and I would have sworn Pigpen and Keith were both onstage.

  19. I enjoyed the article, but never EVER call Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, "VaTech." Also, it's NOT, "Virginia Tech University." Both of these warnings are included in every info guide, game day notes and press release. Other than offending the Hokie Nation, your article is outstanding!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. You;re not the only person to razz me about the "VaTech" thing (not as bad as the time I confused Arizona with Arizona State).

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  21. Alan Sept. 17, 2020 at 12:40
    Thanks for this blog. I had no trouble getting a front row seat in Charlotte, Dec. 10, 1973. Garcia was directly in front of me about 10-12 feet away, and at first I thought he was a guitar tech or roadie when he first walked out. He had shaved off his beard since I saw my first show in Washington, DC 6/9/1973. I could see fine, obviously, except that a solid row of police officers stood across the front of the stage, which was only about five feet or so from the floor. The Dead had a strong following from UNC-Charlotte. I think I knew half the crowd. Only the floor seats had been sold; most seats were the sloping seats extending up three sides - all empty. A scaled down version of the "Wall of Sound" was definitely used (a friend with ties to the Dead confirmed this); it looked huge to me, like 50 feet tall, and only maybe 30 feet from my seat - sound was excellent, not loud, perfect really. My guess is perhaps, 800 to 1000 seats were filled. Someone with a seating chart of that venue (still in use )- could tell. I wish the songs excluded from the download release will turn up - but, I think they were damaged. I did not see any taping or even people with cameras. I still have the ticket stub...somewhere, and promised to my friend of the Dead. I still live in Charlotte. The show ended with "Casey Jones" and somebody used a fire extinguisher or or something similar to blows "puffs of smoke" like a steam locomotive toward the end of the song. Lesh looked up with surprise, or delight. Scripted? I doubt it. BUT REALLY COOL!

  22. Thanks for the eyewitness account, Alan. I added your comment to the man post. I thought it wouldn't be a big crowd, but just 1000, wow.

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  24. Alan McDeadhead again - I assume you will not post this.

  25. I love this article and blog and you’re not wrong but as someone from the region it’s so funny the way the “New South” is being treated with tweezers like it’s an exotic butterfly from Borneo. It’s like if you were writing about CA like “Sacra-Mento, a governmental city in Old Mexico, had been taken from the Nisenan and Maidu peoples by the conquistadors in 1808. Its primary export is barley. So weird that the Grateful Dead played here probably 5 people went.” lol it’s just Virginia