Grateful Dead cover band to play Bob Weir’s guitar at Agave | VailDaily.com
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Grateful Dead cover band to play Bob Weir’s guitar at Agave

Rob Eaton of the Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue will play Weir's '89-'91 Modulus guitar this Friday

Bob Weir plays the Modulus guitar at a Grateful Dead show in the early 1990s.
Nate Bidner/Courtesy photo
IF YOU GO...
  • What: Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue
  • When: Friday, Dec. 23, 10 p.m.
  • Where: Agave in Avon
  • More info: AgaveAvon.com

A guitar once owned and played by Grateful Dead musician and founding member Bob Weir will be brought to life on the Agave stage this Friday by guitarist Rob Eaton and the Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue cover band.

The custom guitar, which is composed of a Casio body with Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and a Modulas neck, was regularly played by Weir with the Grateful Dead from 1989-1991. This Friday, collector Nate Bidner is taking this piece of history off of the wall and putting it in the hands of Eaton, who has performed as Bob Weir in the renowned Grateful Dead cover band Dark Star Orchestra for over two decades.

Bidner is a lifelong Deadhead with a private collection of nearly 50 guitars in Denver, two of which previously belonged to Weir. 



“I just love for players to play these things,” Bidner said. “I’m not the type of guy that’s going to put this over the mantle. I’m part of a small collector group who want to get instruments in the hands of our best musicians on the Grateful Dead scene, and that’s what I do.”

When it comes to Dead cover artists, Eaton is at the apex. He picked up a guitar for the first time at 12 after hearing the band’s live triple album “Europe ‘72,” and said that as a dyslexic artist he naturally connected with Weir’s style of play and learned by copying him.

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“I understood immediately after hearing him for the first time why he did what he did,” Eaton said. “People think I try to act like Bob Weir, but I don’t know any other way to play. I’m not trying to be anything — that’s how I was taught by the person that inspired me to want to play the instrument to begin with.”

The Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue play at Agave on Friday.
John Ryan Lockman/Courtesy photo

His connection with Weir’s style has led to a decades-long career playing as Weir in multiple bands and attaining a level of mastery for the music that Weir himself has praised. Eaton said that getting to play Weir’s guitar is a unique opportunity because it lets him tap into what he described as the guitar’s “juju.”

“’89, ’90, those were prime years for the Grateful Dead, and that guitar has absorbed that energy. That’s part of its being,” Eaton said. “Those instruments are valuable because they all hold what I call juju. The more it’s used, the more it gets to sweat, the more it gets gunky — that’s the earthy stuff that makes them what they are.”



Eaton has previously had the opportunity to play Bidner’s other Weir-owned guitar with Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue, a custom guitar by Rich Hoeg played from 1993-1995. Bidner said that he chooses Eaton to play his guitars because he knows how to make the most out of them, a sentiment that his bandmate, drummer Jake Wolf, agreed with wholeheartedly.

“He was like a freaking surgeon,” Wolf said. “He’s too humble to say it, but I was on the drums, the closest person to him, and it was freaking awesome, man. My heart was just, like, exploding with joy… this is a chance to not only see it out of a museum, but to hear it played by someone that knows how to play it.”

A Paul Languedoc guitar that was played by Trey Anastasio of Phish in the band’s early years, shown here in Vermont, will also be at the show.
Rob Eaton/Courtesy photo

The Rocky Mountain Grateful Dead Revue has been performing in Colorado since 2001, taking on different formations through the years with only Eaton and Wolf as the constant members. This Friday, they will be joined by bassist Jim Allard of Dark Star Orchestra and lead guitarist Dave Kochman of Shakedown Street.

Bidner will be on site at the show, and audience members will be able to interact with the two Weir guitars, as well as a Paul Languedoc guitar that was played by Trey Anastasio of Phish.

Tickets are $15 per person, and entry is limited to those 21 years of age and older. Tickets can be purchased online at AgaveAvon.com and the show starts at 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 23.

“It’s a piece of history that you don’t get here in the Valley,” Eaton said. “So if you’re a Deadhead, you want to come to the show because you want to see it, you want to hear it, you want to be part of that whole experience.”


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