THRILLS

Wednesday April 13 How big was it?: On the subject of fishing, you probably fall into one of two categories--those who do and those who can't fathom it. Author John Gierach belongs to the former group and his book Dances With Trout, a collection of perceptive fish stories, does everything it can to help make sense of it for the latter. Gierach will hook all comers tonight at 7:30 with a talk and book signing at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. For details call 322-7727.

Thursday April 14 Nobel efforts: Former chief commander of the Tiananmen Square Committee Chai Ling first became familiar to us because of a videotaped interview with her just before the student uprising in Beijing was overrun by Chinese tanks. Ling, earmarked for execution by the government, escaped to Hong Kong and then Paris, later becoming the international spokesperson for the Chinese democracy movement. She's briefed the mucky-mucks in Washington, appeared on a number of national news programs and will now appear as guest of CU's Freedom in the U.S.A. series, tonight at 7:30 in the UMC Ballroom on the CU-Boulder campus. Admission is free; call 492-8008 for more information.

Friday April 15 Command performance: If performance art can boast a grand dame, her name is Rachel Rosenthal. A Parisian-born dynamo of Russian parentage, she studied with artists of many disciplines--from Hans Hoffman to Merce Cunningham--and eventually founded the experimental Instant Theatre group in 1956. During the Seventies Rosenthal became a champion for women in the arts; to this day, her works remain challenging and powerful. She'll perform her recent theater piece L.O.W. in Gaea, based on a trip to the Mojave Desert and lighting on themes both earthly and unearthly, at the Teikyo Loretto Heights Theater, 3001 S. Federal, tonight at 8. Admission is $12; for reservations call the CU-Denver School of the Arts, 556-2279.

Da Costa and effect: There's nothing flashy about Tico da Costa, a down-to-earth Brazilian who strums a jazzy guitar and sings in a sweet, friendly folk style called chorinho. The resulting sound is immediate and playful, sure to put you on a beach somewhere--at least figuratively. A quickie vacation with da Costa begins at 8 this evening, courtesy of the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. Call 777-1003 for round-trip tickets; they're only $9 ($7 members).

Green mansions: If you've never attended a craft show in a palace before, the Spring Art Affair is a wonderful place to start--forty fine craftspeople will display their work in the lavish nooks and crannies of the Grant-Humphreys Mansion, located at 770 Pennsylvania St. Featuring a wide range of crafts including handmade jewelry, wearable art, baskets and hand-blown glass, the show also boasts some interesting standouts: galvanized watering cans by Jim Hawkins (who says the items are really pieces of plumbing, rather than artworks), soft sculpture dolls by Carrie Vadas and popular tapestry handbags from Maruca. Attend the Art Affair from 10 to 9 today and from 10 until 5 tomorrow; a reception with live music starts at 6 this evening. Admission is $2; call 722-7583.

Ain't that Sutton?: Classic jazz swings into the Park Hill Golf Club tonight and tomorrow with Ralph Sutton's All Stars claiming the honors. Pared down to a quartet, pianist Sutton's group this evening includes renowned cornet player Warren Vache, Jack Lesberg on bass and Jake Hanna setting the rhythm on drums. Bistro dining begins at 5:30 p.m., with the music commencing at 7; Park Hill, located at 4141 E. 35th Ave., will have two dance floors open if the sprites get into your feet. Reserve a table or get additional information by calling 333-5411; tickets are $25.

Saturday April 16 Small is beautiful: Like small presses, some small record labels strive for excellence rather than commerciality--among them is Philo Records, now prospering under the Rounder wing but still dedicated to giving exposure and creative license to high-quality singer/songwriters like Nancy Griffith, Mary McCaslin and Rosalie Sorrels. Some of Philo's best acts--New England storyteller Bill Morrissey and folksy philosopher Cheryl Wheeler--will be joined by newcomers Kristina Olsen, who plays a mean slide, and Vance Gilbert, folk rapper of the Nineties, for the Philo Records 20th Anniversary Concert, a musically literate caravan camping out tonight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $14; for more information call Swallow Hill Music Association (which is hosting the event) at 777-1003.

Waiting for the end of the world: What message would you leave to future generations? A distinctive group of speakers gets the chance to leave something thoughtful behind for posterity thanks to The 11th Hour, an unusual meeting of minds that features onstage answers, delivered without ground rules, from Jane Goodall, Tony Church, Dr. Helen Caldicott and Pat Schroeder. It will all be videotaped before an audience this evening at 8 in the Source Theatre, located in the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex at 13th and Curtis. To reserve tickets call 290-TIXS; they run $25 a head.

Sunday April 17 Blues horizon: Blues artist John Hammond always has played for the joy of it--and what a scorching joy it is. The Robert Johnson scholar, who must surely have the music in his blood (his dad, J.H. Senior, was a giant in the music business, signing once-obscure names like Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin to recording contracts), has carved a long, devoted career out of the Delta blues. Lucky you: Hammond is here to give a lesson in the finer points of bottleneck guitar as a guest of E-Town, recording for public radio tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., and you're all invited to sit in. The show begins at 7; tickets, available from the theater box office, 786-7030, are $6 ($8 day of show). Also appearing will be City Folk, Hazel Miller and the fabulous E-Tones.

Israel to reel: Three quirky and unusual young women provide the heart and soul of the movie Tel Aviv Stories, an anthology of intertwining stories that went absolutely boffo at Israeli box offices. Directed by Ayeleth Menahemi and Nirit Yaron, the comic film makes its Denver premiere tonight in a special showing sponsored by DU's Institute for Israeli Culture. Tiffany Plaza, at 7400 E. Hampden Ave., plays host for the 7 p.m. screening. To purchase your $10 tickets in advance, call 871-3045; or buy them at the door for $12. Monday April 18 Food for thought: Bookworms won't lose their appetites when Feasting on Fiction puts Diane Mott Davidson on the podium. Author of a string of mysteries with edible themes, Davidson will speak today at a luncheon benefiting DU's Penrose Library. Following the 11 a.m. talk, guests will wine and dine at noon; it all takes place at Butterfield Eight, the trendy new nightclub for the middle-aged--located at 175 Fillmore in Cherry Creek North--for an admission price of $40 ($65 patrons). Call the University of Denver Women's Library Association at 871-3405 for information.

Tuesday April 19 Steppin' out: How do those Texas two-steppers look so smooth on the dance floor when they've stuffed themselves into those skintight jeans? It's a mystery of modern science--but an act of will taking the country by storm. The best in the region will have a chance to strut their stuff for prizes at the Black Velvet Smooth Steppin' Showdown, a national contest boasting Tanya Tucker as its spokeswoman. Preliminary rounds will be held tonight at Spurs, 7301 N. Federal in Westminster, and at the Stampede, Havana and Parker Rd., on April 26; local competition concludes with final rounds on June 2. The area's winners get a free trip to Nashville for the national finals in August. For information call 1-900-

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