Summer is winding to a close, and that means another Alaska State Fair is upon us. A reunited Creed kicked off this year's concert series on Thursday, but the Borealis stage still offers a full slate of classic rock, country, comedy and more.
Here's a breakdown of this year's performers. Note: Ticket prices do not include fair admission, which is required to attend each concert.
Theory of a Deadman
Nutshell: Led by pompadoure frontman Tyler Connolly, this Canadian post-grunge group has released records on the imprint run by Chad Kroeger, frontman of the like-minded Nickelback.
Familiar tunes: "Hate My Life," "Bad Girlfriend," "Lowlife"
Recommended if you like: Nickelback, Creed, Seether
Fun fact: While "Hate My Life" opens with the line "So sick of the hobos always begging for change," the band is selling wristbands on its current tour to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Los Angeles.
Details: 7 p.m. Friday, $35 or $55 for reserved admission (no seating).
Big & Rich
Nutshell: The pop-country duo of John Rich and Big Kenny Alphin will be joined on stage by the country-rapping Cowboy Troy and singer-songwriter Bradley Gaskin.
Familiar tunes: "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," "Lost in This Moment," "Comin' to Your City"
Recommended if you like: Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, Brooks and Dunn
Fun Fact: John Rich won the fourth season of "The Celebrity Apprentice," beating competition that included Meat Loaf, Gary Busey, Jose Canseco and Lil Jon.
Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, $40 or $55 for reserved admission (no seating).
Nutshell: Styx staked its claim to fame during prog-rock's heyday in the '70s and early '80s, taking an artsy approach that included concept albums like "Kilroy Was Here," but melded the style with more pop-radio appeal.
Familiar tunes: "Mr. Roboto," "Come Sail Away,"
Recommended if you like: REO Speedwagon, Journey, Foreigner
Fun Fact: The Broadway hit "Rock of Ages" -- which was performed in Anchorage this past May -- weaves tunes from the '80s into the musical's story line, including Styx's "Renegade" and "Too Much Time on My Hands."
Details: 6 p.m. Sunday, $40 or $65 for reserved seating.
Nutshell: The soft-rock duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock formed in Australia, and their ballads were worldwide hits in the '80s.
Familiar tunes: "All Out of Love," "Lost in Love," "Even the Nights Are Better"
Recommended if you like: Peter Cetera, Bread, Barry Manilow
Fun Fact: Russell and Hitchcock met while performing in a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in Sydney, Australia.
Details: 7 p.m. Monday, $20 or $35 for reserved seating.
Jo Dee Messina
Nutshell: Country music singer Jo Dee Messina moved from Massachusetts to Nashville, Tenn., in the late '80s to kick-start her career. The result? Two Grammy nominations, three gold records, two platinum records and six singles to hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart.
Familiar tunes: "Heads Carolina, Tails California," "Bye Bye," "I'm Alright"
Recommended if you like: Martina McBride, Shania Twain, SheDaisy
Fun Fact: Messina was in the news a month ago because of some Twitter trash talk about country artist and "Nashville Star" winner Chris Young. She called him "ugly, arrogant and rude."
Details: 7 p.m. Tuesday, $35 or $50 for reserved seating.
The Avett Brothers
Nutshell: The Avett Brothers take an array of roots music influences and add an extra dose of energy. They sing that they're heading north on "I and Love and You," and finally they're backing that up.
Familiar tunes: "Murder in the City," "Paranoia in B Major," "I and Love and You"
Recommended if you like: Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, Justin Townes Earle
Fun Fact: The Avett Brothers are the only act playing the fair that has its own artist page on National Public Radio's website.
Details: 7 p.m. Wednesday, $35 or $50 for reserved admission (no seating).
Nutshell: Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham performed at a packed Sullivan Arena in 2009, and at this point his characters Achmed the Dead Terrorist and Walter might be more recognizable than he is.
Familiar tunes: Achmed does a song called "Jingle Bombs." Does that count?
Recommended if you like: Larry the Cable Guy, Dane Cook, Gabriel Iglesias
Fun Fact: In 2010, Forbes magazine listed Dunham as the top-earning stand-up comedian in the country, with his $22.5 million income bolstered by DVD and puppet sales.
Details: 7 p.m. Thursday, $45 or $75 for reserved seating.
Five Finger Death Punch
Nutshell: California hard-rockers Five Finger Death Punch released their third album late last year, "American Capitalist," but it's the band's cover of Bad Company's titular song that has been the group's highest charting single thus far.
Familiar tunes: "The Bleeding," "Remember Everything," "Bad Company"
Recommended if you like: Godsmack, All That Remains, Trivium
Fun Fact: Lead singer Ivan Moody played the role of the Hobo Clown in the short horror film "The Devil's Carnival."
Details: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, $35 or $50 for reserved admission (no seating).
George Thorogood and the Destroyers
Nutshell: Alaskans probably already know what to expect from George Thorogood and the Destroyers. For one, the band and its signature brand of blues-rock also played last year's fair. That, and the first track listed in the next section is one of the single most recognizable songs in the rock 'n' roll canon.
Familiar tunes: "Bad to the Bone," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," "Who Do You Love?"
Recommended if you like: Bob Seger, ZZ Top, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Fun Fact: In March, Delaware Today named Thorogood one of the 50 most influential Delawareans of the past 50 years, a distinction shared by Vice President Joe Biden.
Details: 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, $35 or $75 for reserved seating.
Nutshell: Gary Allan has been charting radio hits since 1996, toeing the line between pop ballads and classic country in the Bakersfield, Calif., mold.
Familiar tunes: "Her Man," "Watching Airplanes," "It Would Be You"
Recommended if you like: Billy Currington, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw
Fun Fact: In an interview with Country Music Television, Allan said that his record deal came about after a couple bought a vehicle at the car lot where he worked and found his songwriting demo tape in the glove box. They came back and eventually cut Allan a check for $12,000 to make his own demo to shop to record labels. The source of that couple's wealth? A gold mine in Alaska.
Details: 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, $35 or $50 for reserved admission (no seating).
Hot Chelle Rae
Nutshell: Closing the fair on Labor Day will be pop-rock combo Hot Chelle Rae from Nashville, Tenn., who take sugary bubblegum pop and dress it up for the dance floor.
Familiar tunes: "Tonight, Tonight," "I Like It Like That"
Recommended if you like: Metro Station, Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy
Fun Fact: Lead singer R.K. Follese told the story behind the band's name to Seventeen magazine: "There was a girl on MySpace whose profile name was 'Chelle Rae' and her pictures were hot, but she was stealing a model's pictures and putting them on her profile. For all we know it could have been a man, but we decided to name our band after her."
Details: 3 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3, $20 or $45 for reserved admission (no seating).
By Matt Sullivan
Anchorage Daily News