Initially a tribute to the late Merle Watson, Doc Watson's son and musical partner, MerleFest has evolved into one of the biggest festivals of its kind, on par only with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco, both of which draw between 70 and 80,000 people each year.
Sara Watkins has spent most of her young life on stage making music, but only in the past few years has she stepped up to the mic alone to pour her songs out into the world.
The lights dimmed to darkness in the Sheldon Concert Hall to signal the Flecktones making their way to the stage. A moment of quiet settled in.
"Rotten Taters" is, unbelievably, the first solo release from a mandolinist that, despite playing Carnegie Hall and the White House, simply should be more widely known than he is.
With the unruly fervor of foot stomping and string picking, the Hackensaw Boys stir new life into Americana music and songwriting.