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FAIR WARNING
KEITH URBAN BRINGS A NEW LOOK TO COUNTRY IN GRANDSTAND LINEUP

Keith Urban is an atypical country music star who will be among the headliners at this summer's Erie County Fair Buffalo.com Grandstand lineup.

Urban will appear Aug. 15, with guest Julie Roberts. Other acts include: blues rockers ZZ Top, Aug. 11; and veteran bands Styx and REO Speedwagon, Aug. 19. Ticket prices for all shows are $42 and $30; information is available at www.americas-fair.org.

Urban is one of country music's hottest acts and part of its new breed of performers. He looks more like a grunge rocker, with long blond hair and jeans, than a Nashville cat.

But Urban, who was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, has an authentic country sound in his music and guitar. His parents were country music fans, and he grew up listening to such artists as Charley Pride and Dolly Parton as well as Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The result is a rock- and pop-influenced country sound that has produced three hit albums in the past five years. Urban's current CD, "Be Here," has sold more than 1 million copies and has been in the Top 20 for nearly seven months. Last fall, Urban's single, "Days Go By," was his fifth No. 1 hit in a row on the country charts.

ZZ Top has been around for nearly four decades. The self-proclaimed "li'l old band from Texas" can still crank out guitar-driven rock with such trademark songs as "Legs," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Give Me All Your Lovin'." ZZ Top also features a heavy dose of blues.

REO Speedwagon was formed in 1969 and had a long run on the pop charts during the '70s and early '80s. The band's hits include such FM soft rock staples as "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Keep on Loving You," as well as "One Lonely Night."

Styx also found a home on rock radio during the '70s and in the '80s on MTV. Among the group's well-known hits include, "Babe," "Lady" and "Come Sail Away."

e-mail: aviolanti@buffnews.com