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Watch John Mayer and Bob Weir play acoustic versions of Grateful Dead classics at the Rise for the River benefit

John Mayer and Bob Weir perform with Dead & Company in 2017. In Montana, on Monday night, the setting was a lot more intimate
John Mayer and Bob Weir perform with Dead & Company in 2017. On Monday night in Montana, the setting was a lot more intimate for an all-acoustic performance of classic tracks by the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Marty Robbins and The Crickets. (Image credit: Steve Jennings/WireImage)

John Mayer and Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir brought the house down on Monday (Aug 8) when they took to the state at Pine Creek Lodge, in Livingston, Montana for an intimate open air acoustic guitar set.

The duo are more commonly found packing out ballparks and stadia across the country with Dead & Company, but this performance under the trees was a special occasion. 

It was the first of a trio of Rise for the River benefit shows scheduled by Mayer to raise money for those affected by June 13 flooding of the Yellowstone River, which damaged homes and impacted jobs across Park County, where Mayer has called home for over a decade. 

The flooding closed the entrance to the park, devastating an economy that is reliant on tourism, with hotels reporting that between 50 and 70 per cent of reservations have been canceled. 

Mayer and Weir opened with Friend of the Devil, taken from the Grateful Dead’s 1970 album American Beauty, and played 13 tracks in total, including Dead classics such as Bertha, Uncle John’s Band, Jack Straw, Terrapin Station, Eye of the World and a bravura run-through of Brown-Eyed Women.

All of these tracks are firmly in both players’ wheelhouses, but there was something about the stripped-down acoustic arrangements that afforded Mayer a little extra room, setting the tone for what was a special evening – a Dead & Company show of sorts, albeit with a difference.

There were a few firsts, with Mayer performing Jerry Garcia’s Loser and Marty Robbins’s classic western ballad El Paso for the first time. The pair rounded out the set with a cover of the Crickets' seminal rock 'n' roll hit Not Fade Away.

Mayer and Weir’s performance was livestreamed on the on the PPV Nugs platform, with highlights from their performance on both artists’ YouTube channels. The fundraising efforts were supported by a range of John and Bobby merch items.

You can watch highlights of Mayer and Weir’s set above (and on fan-shot video below), and the full performance is currently on demand via Rise for the River on Nugs.net (opens in new tab), priced $20, where it will be available until Aug 28. 

Mayer will next take to the stage with the comedian Dave Chapelle, before playing a headline set on August 21. That solo headline performance will also be available on the Nugs platform for a similar price.

Donate to the Southwest Montana Flood Relief Fund (opens in new tab).

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.