MerleFest 2017: 11 Best Things We Saw at the Roots Music Festival

From Zac Brown Band's stripped-down set to the Avett Brothers doing double duty, the highlights of the annual North Carolina hoedown

The Avett Brothers
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Jim Gavenus2/11

The Avett Brothers

On the cusp of a life in a straight-ahead rock & roll band many years ago, multi-instrumentalist Seth Avett recalibrated his sensors when he met Doc Watson. Of course, Seth and the rest of the Avett Brothers, natives of nearby Concord, have never stopped indulging their love of rock as they showed on opening night of Merlefest, channeling Queen, George Harrison and the unhinged glory of Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. But as always there was room for the earthy inspirations that came from Watson and others like him. While the large crowd in the back of the field swarmed to the closest Jumbotron to watch their heroes bathed in Popsicle lighting, the band delivered their Americana favorites "Murder in the City" and "I and Love and You," and recent album cuts "Ain't No Man" and "Smithsonian," most every lyric discreetly moored to the lessons of their North Carolina childhood.

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