Fayetteville Roots Festival kicks off 

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.

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