If you go
What: Dark Star Orchestra, acoustic performance
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, corner of Pine Grove and Mount Werner roads
Steamboat Springs Rob Eaton hears too often what people think his band does: play classic Grateful Dead concerts note for note.
"First of all, you wouldn't be able to do one show like that in a lifetime," Eaton said in a recent phone interview. Rhythm guitarist and sole Colorado-based member for the Grateful Dead-inspired band Dark Star Orchestra, Eaton has spent close to a decade playing Grateful Dead tunes and trying to recreate the band's energy.
"The normal format for us is just basically playing the music with set lists. We don't know what they played, and we don't really want to know what they played," Eaton said.
The band plays a rare acoustic show at 7 p.m. today at Strings Music Pavilion. Tickets are $48 and are available through the Strings Music Festival box office.
Dark Star Orchestra plays about half a dozen acoustic shows a year. A normal tour sees the band play about half Grateful Dead concert sets, and the other half is set lists Dark Star Orchestra comes up with itself, Eaton said.
The Dead never played an acoustic set that lasted 2.5 hours - the length Eaton estimated for today's performance - so Dark Star Orchestra approaches acoustic sets with no real roadmap, Eaton said.
"The sound choices are dictated by what's coming back from the crowd, so you can in a way mold better to what it's like that night," he said. "Sometimes it's nice not to be told exactly what's coming next and make it flow - make it more in tune with what's happening outside."
Dark Star Orchestra got its start as a gathering of Deadheads at a Tuesday night gig in Chicago. None of the members expected the band to become as big or as popular as it has, Eaton said.
"It shows the strength and the power of the music itself. The music was just part of this whole bigger picture, the big picture being a sense of community and really a freedom as such that was not so much about the music but about society. And the Grateful Dead were a platform for all of this to gather and happen," Eaton said.
Half of the experience the Grateful Dead produced was the band's music, and half was the people who came to enjoy it, he said.
"It was a really beautiful thing, and I think the people who come to see us are coming to see us, a) because they love the music and b) because they miss that feeling," Eaton said.