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AmericanaFest 2016: 20 Best Things We Saw

From Bob Weir’s cowboy songs to Aubrie Sellers’ lively set

Bob Weir, AmericanaFest

Aubrie Sellers' lively set and Bob Weir's preview of his new album 'Blue Mountain' were highlights of AmericanaFest 2016.

Erika Goldring/WireImage

With nearly 300 artists playing venues around Nashville, this year's Americana Music Festival & Conference was bursting at the seams with talent – not to mention an entire Western-wear shop of hats and boots. Icons like Bob Weir and John Prine and heirs to the throne Jason Isbell and Margo Price captivated with rousing sets, both official and underground, while upstarts like Courtney Granger and Marlon Williams proved the genre is skewing younger. Here are the 20 best things we saw at AmericanaFest 2016.

Courtney Granger

Jenny Lyons Simon

Best George Jones Disciple: Courtney Granger

In Louisiana's Cajun territory, country music has long mixed with more traditional French music for social functions where dancing is involved. Fiddler Courtney Granger comes out of that tradition but brings a George Jones-like authority to the proceedings with his finely-tuned voice. At a packed performance in East Nashville's Crying Wolf, Granger didn't shy from the Possum comparisons, confidently delivering a faithful rendition of "She Thinks I Still Care," along with selections from his forthcoming album Beneath Still Waters. Remarkably, all the songs on the record are also covers, but Granger's clear sense of who he is and how to employ his voice renders them entirely new.

Michaela Anne

Amanda Bjorn Photography

Best Hank Williams Comeback: Michaela Anne

"Who here knows the Hank Williams song 'Rambling Man?'" Michaela Anne asked the crowd before kicking into "Bright Lights and the Fame," the title track from her latest release. Written from the perspective of a woman whose music-playing beau can't stay away from the road, "Bright Lights" offered a response to the narrator in Williams' song, whose half-assed excuse for ditching town is, "When the Lord made me, he made a ramblin' man." Anne's five-piece band kicked up plenty of honky-tonk dust in the background, while the singer called bullshit on one of country music's oldest motifs. Brassy and ballsy.