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

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James Taylor
Rebecca Sapp/WireImage3/11

James Taylor

Fans mobbed the festival to see the weekend's prize 30th birthday gift: singer-songwriter James Taylor, whose father grew up in Morganton, North Carolina. Traveling with MerleFest veteran Jerry Douglas and Scottish fiddler Aly Bain as part of this summer's Trans-Atlantic Sessions Tour, Taylor hoisted the hometown banner with his chestnut "Carolina on My Mind" and savored telling again of his 1968 discovery by the Beatles. Douglas, who leads the troupe, relished singing harmonies behind Taylor, his face glowing with appreciation. The nation's beloved troubadour has lost some vocal dexterity over the years, but he can still coax a vision of hometown hope and melancholy like no other.

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