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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Jim Lauderdale
Ed Gavenus9/11

Jim Lauderdale

The unofficial host of MerleFest, Jim Lauderdale is always between albums. The North Carolina native's show at the Hillside Stage in blistering heat, harked back to last year's This Changes Everything, his paean to the golden Western swing sound, but then quickly shifted into his Otis Redding guise for a sweet set of rhythm and blues. He sampled his midnight-drenched Soul Searching album of 2015 and then previewed his upcoming London Southern release, recorded in Great Britain, which again finds him chasing the ghost of Redding. Nobody except the Lauderdale band could pour steel-guitar licks into the blues and come out shining. But in a minute, he disappeared, making way for the Waybacks and their popular album hour.

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