12 Best Things We Saw at MerleFest 2016

From Jason Isbell's triumphant headlining set to Old Crow Medicine Show's super-charged strings

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Best Innovators: Steep Canyon Rangers
Jamie Wykle3/12

Best Innovators: Steep Canyon Rangers

Taking a break from a spring tour with Steve Martin and Martin Short, the Steep Canyon Rangers — formed in 2000 at nearby University of North Carolina — once again stood up for young bluegrass bands everywhere who mash their beloved music with rock and folk. Only at MerleFest, the band took it one step further, closing its first-night set with a barrage of African rhythms that may have Paul Simon seeking its services. If there's any doubt that the Steep Canyon players are modern bluegrass music's hard-charging innovators, then Nicky Sanders' gale-force fiddle breakdowns and Mike Guggino's blistering mandolin solos settled the claim.  

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