The Waybacks, along with special guests Joan Osborne, Sam Bush, Jim Lauderdale, and Jens Kruger, have something special planned for this year’s Hillside Album Hour, the band’s eighth consecutive performance of what has become a hallmark MerleFest event.
"This year's Album Hour will likely be our most ambitious to date," says The Waybacks' lead guitarist, James Nash. "We're taking a classic American album and exploring its lyrical themes by juxtaposing music from other artists and time periods. The album we've chosen is from the mid-80s (our first from that decade), and its songs are mostly upbeat, while simultaneously referencing war, poverty, and racial tension. We've rearranged these songs by incorporating recognizable melodies and lyrics associated with earlier eras and events – for instance, the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War protests, as well as cultural touchstones – in an attempt to put the album in a historical context that we hope will deepen and broaden its underlying themes. I'm excited to perform this, and I'd love to share some details about the music we've chosen to complement the album, and why."
Over the past eight years, The Waybacks have performed and interpreted a broad array of classic albums by the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stone, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan & The Band, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band's special guests have ranged from Elvis Costello to Emmylou Harris, Susan Tedeschi to Mike Farris, and many more. Their inspired performances have made the Album Hour a highly anticipated event and a fan favorite at Merlefest. As in past years, the album choice is a closely guarded secret until the show begins.