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Dylan Fest 2017: 10 Best Things We Saw

From John Paul White to Wynonna, the highlights of Bob Dylan’s 76th birthday tribute concert in Nashville

John Paul White, Dylan Fest

John Paul White performs "You're a Big Girl Now" at Dylan Fest in Nashville.

Steve Lowry/Ryman Archives

The old maxim that Bob Dylan’s songs are better when other people perform them may be a lot of bollocks, but they sure do lend themselves to reinterpretation. Tuesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, the Best Fest hosted the first night of its 16th annual Dylan Fest in honor of the Bard’s 76th birthday, trotting out nearly 50 musicians to take a stab at 30 or so of his songs. There were some living legends, some wild script flips, and the requisite Last Waltz-style singalong, but these 10 moments were the best of the night. Night 2 gets underway this evening, with tickets still available. 

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Elle King

The all-star singalong of “I Shall Be Released” made for a fitting way to close out the night, but it felt like a bonus rather than a finale thanks to the pair of Elle King songs that preceded it. Her stripped-down duet of “It Ain’t Me Babe” with Shakey Graves was as playful and charming as it was beautiful, but she turned around and belted out a raging “Hurricane” that befitted its headlining position. King didn’t need any help bringing down the house, but she got a key assist all the same from Odessa, whose furious violin work topped even the original.

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