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 Musical P.I.: Jason Isbell
Dr. Burns12/12

Best Musical P.I.: Jason Isbell

While day visitors and crunchy fans with four-day passes looked up at a small patch of blue sky on Sunday afternoon — the last day of MerleFest — headliner Jason Isbell stepped on stage as cool as James Dean. A liberal sampling from his latest album Something More Than Free found the former Drive-By Trucker and his smart 400 Unit pondering the burdened years between young adulthood and middle-age, and reflections on blood-soaked family feuds in his "Decoration Day" drew festival-goers to their feet. While country music careens around a blind curve in a Chevy Silverado, Isbell examines its skid marks on the road. His lonely vocals convinced the audience that his existential detective work just might be worthwhile.