About 200 people gathered on Cornell’s central campus in Ithaca to hear the Cornell Chimes pay tribute to the Grateful Dead on the 40th anniversary of the band’s May 8, 1977, concert in Barton Hall.
The fans were old and young, some in tie-dye and Grateful Dead T-shirts, some with babes in arms and dogs on leashes, and some who claimed to have attended the original concert. Snow had been forecast but did not come; a snowstorm had blanketed the campus on the day of the show in 1977.
Tompkins County Legislator Dan Klein joined the chimesmasters atop McGraw Tower before the concert to proclaim May 8 “Grateful Dead Day in Tompkins County.” There was no public address system, so some of those in the crowd listened to the proclamation via livestream on their phones.
People ringed McGraw Hall and Uris Library, and gathered nearby on Ho Plaza, the steps at Olin Library and on the Arts Quad to hear the concert. The Big Red Marching Band played fanfares and the alma mater on Libe Slope before the Chimes began playing “Touch of Gray.”
The chimesmasters had learned and arranged five Grateful Dead songs for the occasion, including “Ripple,” “They Love Each Other,” “Uncle John’s Band” and “Playing in the Band.” The concert also featured arrangements of two Beatles songs from the Dead’s live repertoire, “Hey Jude” and “Blackbird,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”
Preconcert activities also included a signing by author Peter Conners of the new Cornell University Press book, “Cornell ’77: The Music, the Myth and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead Show at Barton Hall.”