Thursday March 17 Your Erin ways: There are many ways, civilized and otherwise, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Denver. For the upper crust, there's a traditional concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra featuring Irish tenor Frank Patterson, and on Irish harp and violin, his lovely wife Elly O'Grady and son Eanon. Tickets to the performance at Boettcher Concert Hall, 13th and Curtis St., are $8 to $33; call 986-8742. Or take a trip into history with a hearty 7 p.m. meal of Irish stew, soda bread and so forth at the Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania St. Victorian parlor games and an unusual form of fortune-telling involving the bumps on one's head follow the chow, along with staged "updates" from the 1897 St. Paddy's Day world heavyweight championship fight between Gentleman Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons. The cost for this unique evening is $20 per person; call 832-4092 for reservations. Finally, there'll be plenty of generic emerald beer, along with pints of Guinness and Harp's (the kinds of brew we like to think of as "liquid bread") at the Cherry Cricket, 2641 E. 2nd Ave., where bagpipers and Irish dancers will accompany you as you quaff. The party gets going at 5 p.m.; call 322-7666 for details.
Command performance: Meanwhile, back at the Auraria Campus, an imp of another color will be performing. Artistic jack-of-all-trades Laurie Anderson, known for her sweeping and influential multimedia events that utilize everything from walls of TV screens to holograms and talking pillows, reads from her new book Stories From the Nerve Bible, at 8 p.m. in the Auraria Gym. This engaging retrospective of Anderson's career may possibly explain to you why thousands of young women across the country became rabid performance-art wannabes in the Eighties. Tickets are $16 ($8 MSCD students); call 556-2595 for information.
Friday March 18 Branching out: Local comic, talk show host and poet Don Becker has found a new way to express himself. Following in the footsteps of Spalding Gray--yet definitely taking his own idiosyncratic path--Becker premiers an autobiographical performance piece, Back on a Limb, tonight and tomorrow at 8 at the Avenue Theater, 2119 E. 17th Ave. The continuing work will be accompanied musically by the New Lithium Choir, a free-form group that will change nightly--Hazel Miller may sing the blues one evening, percussionist Mark McCoin may bang a gong the next. Becker settles into an open-ended run at 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, beginning March 27. Admission, a portion of which benefits Amnesty International, is $6; call 321-5925.
A perfectly good pop star: It's not enough for John Hiatt just to write wonderful songs--in addition to his inimitable pen work, he's got a great growling voice and stage charisma to spare. The energetic Hiatt, who's been known to roll his eyes in a stone-cold imitation of Cab Calloway, get down and dirty in front of ringing guitars or simply sit alone with a portable piano, always puts on a fine show. Backed by his young, thrashy band of the hour, the Guilty Dogs, he'll bring the whole kit and kaboodle to the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax, tonight at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20; call 830-2525 or 290-TIXS.
Latin laugher: Latino Renaissance man Paul Rodriguez isn't content to be a stand-up comic. He's not only an actor, producer, director and even bilingual talk-show host, he's also a fine role model who's giving other comics a start. But don't think that Rodriguez has forsaken his first calling--he'll take time out from his Comedy Pachanga project (a series of comedy specials he's producing that spotlight Latino humorists) to make an appearance at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., tonight at 8 p.m. Admission is $18; to reserve tickets call 534-8336.
Saturday March 19 Toast of the Townes: Songwriter Townes Van Zandt has all the makings of a cult hero. While country stars like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have made his tunes big hits, Van Zandt remains low-key and well-worn on the sidelines--just a guy with a guitar and some stories to tell. He'll appear tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., as guest of the Swallow Hill Music Association's ongoing Troubadour Series, a program dedicated to showcasing tunesmiths of his very ilk. Call Swallow Hill at 777-1003 for tickets. They're $12, $10 for members. You also can catch Van Zandt, along with Windham Hill folkie Patty Larkin, for a quickie with E-Town to-morrow night at the Boulder Theatre. Tickets are $6 in advance, $8 day of the show; call 449-0516 or 449-0159.
A gay old time: If humor heals, Steve Moore is a case in point. The HIV-positive comic has made a career of his own illness, joking about the AIDS threat from the inside out. He'll be joined by three other comedians who have something in common--they're all gay and proud of it--during tonight's Comedy Gayla, an evening of comedy beginning at 8 p.m. in the Auditorium Theater, 13th and Curtis. Along with Moore, you'll witness the brilliant, Lily Tomlin-esque performer Marcia Wilkie, San Franciscan Marilyn Pittman, and from Los Angeles, the frenetic Ant (yep, that's his legal name). If this sounds like your cup of tea, phone 290-TIXS. Tickets are $15.