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Fayetteville Roots Festival kicks off

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WEDNESDAY 8/22

AUSTRALIA'S THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER

8 p.m. Electric Cowboy. $25-$35.

I tried. I honestly have given it 110 percent. I must've watched nearly 34 seconds of a video of it online, but I still just can't understand the appeal. I'm talking (and yes, I do mean talking) about male strippers, of course. It's like, what are they doing up there? First we're supposed to be convinced that they're all just a bunch of innocent policemen or firefighters or tuxedo-wearers and they just happen to be dancing around to a nice choreographed tune. But then they rip all their clothing off to reveal chest after ripped, deeply tanned, deeply oily, 100-percent hairless chest. And then the pants come off and they start prancing and thrusting and bulging around everywhere and for some reason, some people — women mostly, it seems — appear to enjoy this. They shriek and cackle at these poor studly ragamuffins. And I'm thinking (and yes, I do mean thinking), "Hey, this is like, sexual objectification or something. This isn't right." And then I remembered: It's all because of Hollywood. See, there's this popular actor right now who used to be a male stripper. He's called Chunnam Tating or something weird, some nonsensical stripper name. Anyways, it's probably his fault, so thanks a lot, Chunnam. And to all you folks ages 21 and older who want to watch a troupe of utterly buff, devastatingly handsome dudes with antipodean accents and pumped up pectorals dance around sexily, here you go.

THURSDAY 8/23

FAYETTEVILLE ROOTS FESTIVAL

Various times and venues. $25-$249.

In extremely short order, the Fayetteville Roots Festival has grown from a plucky yet small-scale affair into a four-day, multi-venue, big-name folk extravaganza, with a huge music lineup, a variety of other goings-on and major sponsors. The event is billed as "a music, food and culture festival showcasing Fayetteville in its natural state," and even a cursory glance at the offerings would confirm that assertion. First off, the lineup this year includes the virtuosic David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio as the Friday night headliner and John Prine, one of the best songwriters ever, as the Saturday night headliner. In addition to those veteran performers, there are more than 50 others who'll be playing at venues all over town, including the Walton Arts Center, George's Majestic Lounge, Greenhouse Grille, Kingfish, the Fayetteville Public Library, the farmer's market and more. The festival's principal organizers — Bayard Blain and Bernice and Bryan Hembree, of the folk/Americana trio 3 Penny Acre, and Chef Jerrmy Gawthrop, of Greenhouse Grille — have put together something pretty amazing. There are a variety of ticket packages available, such as passes that'll get you into all the shows and include meals made with locally sourced foods. You can also get single-venue tickets for some of the performances, but either way, you should probably move quickly. The full schedule is available at FayettevilleRoots.com.

THURSDAY 8/23

THESE UNITED STATES

9 p.m. Stickyz. $10.

At its core, These United States is cut from similar cloth as the shaggy, M. Ward-ian or Dr. Dog-ish classic/country rock that's been real widespread over the last six or seven years. But there's also a distinctly bluesy glam vibe on the band's latest, self-titled album, especially on the opener "Dead & Gone," which recalls all those times when Marc Bolan set his rock dial to "choogle." Singer and main songwriter Jesse Elliott has a cracked-but-not-broken, appealingly world-weary voice that's perfectly suited to this music. The track "Maps" has some keen acoustic guitar playing underpinning the rest of the kitchen-sink tune, with its shifting instrumentation and handclaps. Recommended for fans of the aforementioned M. Ward and Dr. Dog, as well as Delta Spirit, The Head and the Heart and other retro-informed pop acts. The opening act at this 18-and-older show is The Weeks, a Mississippi-bred y'allternative outfit that reminds me of early Kings of Leon.

THURSDAY 8/23

'FAT KID RULES THE WORLD'

7:30 p.m. Rave Motion Pictures. $10.

"Fat Kid Rules the World" is the directorial debut of actor Matthew Lillard ("SLC Punk," "Scooby-Doo"), based on K.L. Going's 2003 YA novel of the same name. It's a tale of punk-rock redemption in which a hefty high-school kid named Troy (Jacob Wysocki) finds out that life might actually be worth living. In an attempt to end it all, Troy steps in front of a bus and is promptly knocked out of the way by Marcus (Matt O'Leary), a rebellious guitar player and singer in a punk band. Marcus promptly convinces Troy to take up the drums and back him up in a newly formed band, a task that is complicated slightly by the fact that Troy has never sat behind a kit in his life. The two misfits form a bond, but it's threatened by Marcus's dark secret. The film won the audience award for narrative film at this year's SXSW Film festival. This screening is a one-off deal, via a service called tugg.com, which is sort of like Groupon for movies; when enough people pledge to buy tickets to a movie, a local theater commits to screen it. Sounds promising. Get your tickets online at arktimes.com/FatKidRules. Seating is limited.

SATURDAY 8/25

THE CANEHILL ENGAGEMENT

8 p.m. Maxine's. $5.

Although I am somewhat ambivalent toward the term "supergroup," this is a legit instance that would call for its use. The Canehill Engagement is made up of folks from a grip of different Little Rock bands from all over the musical map. You've got your Jeremy Brasher and Brian Rodgers, of The Moving Front and a zillion other bands. You've got your Kevin Kerby of Mulehead and Kevin Kerby & Battery. You've got your Burt Taggart of The Big Cats and numerous others, and who is also the head honcho of Max Recordings. And you've got your Jay Calhoun, of folk rockers Free Micah. In terms of sound, Brasher explained thusly (via email): "In the sort of American folk tradition, The Canehill Engagement basically borrows a lot from Southern '80s college rock, as well as aspects of 'cowpunk,' which is a label music magazine people used to stick on the band X." Also performing is Landrest, a Hot Springs outfit that has spent the last few years crafting unconventional indie rock informed by prog and post-punk, and Age of Man, an excellent psych-blues power trio from El Dorado.

SATURDAY 8/25

PAUL WALL

Midnight. Discovery. $10.

Paul Wall came out of Houston's fertile hip-hop scene, and as with many of his peers, he was heavily influenced by the mind-warping, chopped 'n' screwed genius of DJ Screw. One of his early breakout moments was a guest spot on the Mike Jones track "Still Tippin,' " which was followed by his massive 2005 solo debut "The Peoples Champ." In the interim, Wall has pursued acting ("I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell"), outside-the-box collaborations (with rapper Skinhead Rob and Blink 182's Travis Barker in the group Expen$ive Taste) and, of course, entrepreneurial endeavors. In Wall's case, that'd be Grills by Paul Wall, a custom shop that crafts bejeweled dental grills. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Ryan Lochte recently sported a set of American flag grills built by Wall's shop. Wall told ESPN Playbook the set took about two weeks to make. The price? "Well, the cost can go up to about $25,000 for that kind. We didn't charge him that. We gave him an Olympic discount. We have got to take care of him." In addition to Wall, who'll go on about 2:30 a.m., the lineup includes Cain Da Ladies Man and Dr. Feelgood, of Power 92 Jams, DJs Brandon Peck, Sleepy, JMZ Dean and Spencer Rx, and a drag show with Dominique Sanchez and The Disco Dolls.

MONDAY 8/27 and TUESDAY 8/28

2012 FIRST SECURITY KICKOFF CLASSIC

5 p.m. War Memorial Stadium. $7.

This year's First Security Kickoff Classic features eight high school football teams facing off at War Memorial over two days. It's billed as "a clash between traditional Central Arkansas rivals," and features seven of the teams that played in last year's games. Things get started Monday at 5 p.m., when Central Arkansas Christian takes on Stuttgart. That game will be "a great early season 4A matchup," said Jim Harris, editor of ArkansasSports360.com, which is one of the sponsors of the event. Next up, Hot Springs Lakeside goes up against Little Rock Christian at 7:30 p.m., in what will likely be a high-scoring, wide-open game, Harris said. On Tuesday, Arkadelphia and Benton face off in the 5 p.m. timeslot, while archrivals Cabot and Jacksonville close things out starting at 7:30 p.m. You can get tickets starting at 4 p.m. on game days at the stadium.

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