THRILLS

Wednesday November 9 All keyed up: Classical music will never seem the same after you've attended one of Jeffrey Siegel's Keyboard Conversations, an annual mainstay at the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth in Arvada. The internationally known pianist's popular lecture/concert series, beginning its 1994-1995 season tonight at 7:30, combines Siegel's renditions of great compositions with spoken insights into the composers' music and lives. Tonight's segment, "The Miraculous Mendelssohn," examines and beautifully exemplifies romantic works by a major contemporary of Chopin, Schumann and Liszt. Admission is $15 and $17 (season tickets available); call 431-3939.

Thursday November 10 Faithful friends: Scottish folkies the Old Blind Dogs aren't exactly your run-of-the-mill, garden variety Celtic band, although they do transport their traditional tunes on fiddle, cittern, pennywhistle, squeezebox, percussion and guitar--among other things. But the Dogs don't begin or end there--listen carefully and you'll also hear a Cajun lilt or a chugging reggae beat lurking among those jigs, reels and spooky ballads. They'll bring the whole updated shebang to the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., tonight at 7:30. Tickets are $10; for reservations or information call 545-8371 or 652-3306.

High flyers: All you skier wannabes dying to schuss with the big guys will at least have the opportunity to pretend. Vertical Reality, a feature-length ski adventure from ski-film maven Warren Miller, who provides the flick's droll narration, puts top skiers and snowboarders (including Olympic medalist Tommy Moe) right in your face, following their daredevil exploits from one exotic, powdery heaven to another. Filmed on location all over the world--from Alaska to Japan and Italy to India--Vertical Reality is designed to put the poles right into your hands. So dress warm and snowplow your way into the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., where the film screens tonight through Saturday, before moving on to CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium on Sunday night. Admission is $10.50 ($9 student at the CU show only); call 290-TIXS for tickets and showtimes.

Friday November 11 Off the hook: In the case of Trout Fishing in America, it might be wiser just to say "off the wall." Your first impression of this odd yet charming duo, a pair of ex-street buskers from Arkansas, is that they're visually stimulating (Vikinglike guitarist Ezra Idlet and leprechaunish upright bassist Keith Grimwood differ in height by more than a foot), but once you've gotten over the initial shock of their wacky appearance, you'll be completely smitten by their irreverent and unclassifiable material. Let them reel you in tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. For tickets, $12 ($10 members), call 777-1003.

Diamond in the rough: Houston sculptor Mark Diamond, trained as a jewelry-maker and metalsmith, has a thing for the Middle Ages--take one look at his imposing Gothic scepters and ornate chalices and you'll get the idea. In fact, one humorous piece, titled "Sceptre-Tickler," is so pointed that it's covered by sharp and oh-so-medieval spikes. Sacred and Profane, a show of Diamond's historically charged objects, will be on display at Artyard Gallery, 1251 S. Pearl St., beginning this evening with a reception from 5 until 8. The show continues through December 7; for information call 777-3219.

Saturday November 12 Latin invasion: Just so you don't get lulled into thinking that all Latin music is the same, two concerts taking place tonight easily dispense with that misconception. First, ace conguero Poncho Sanchez's hands will fly through a scorching set at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. A premier traveler on the salsa circuit, Sanchez never fails to bring with him an astonishing entourage of top-notch musicians. Nor does he fail to incite those on the dance floor. Tickets are $18 ($20 day of show); doors open at 7 p.m. Call 322-2308 or 290-TIXS. And second, if you've got a cast on your leg--or are just too laid-back for Poncho--you won't have to rhumba to enjoy Nicaragua's Duo Guardabarranco. Katia and Salvador Cardenal practice the form known as nueva cancion, a gentle, acoustic-guitar-based music influenced by modern American folk sophisticates. Sweet and lyrical, Guardabarranco's songs often take a political turn but are just as likely to sing praises to nature--the duo's name, in fact, pays homage to the national bird of their homeland. The tuneful brother and pure-voiced sister will make an appearance tonight at 8 at the Community United Church of Christ, Table Mesa and LeHigh in Boulder. Admission is $7; call 652-2339.

Doo-wop you like: A cappella has never died out, really--it just segues from one street corner to another. Perhaps it's grown more sophisticated, as evidenced by the upscale and virtuosic harmonizing currently made popular by names like Bobby McFerrin and Take 6. But The Persuasions have been doing it for more than thirty years sans instrumentation, bridging the gap that links doo-wop's Five Royales and Flamingos to hip hop's Boyz II Men. And they'll do it again--with a fresh and eclectic repertoire (and nary a sax in sight)--tonight at Brendan's Pub, 1624 Market St. The Poor Boys open at 9; for tickets, $4, call 595-0609.

Bet on a hunch: You know our theater season is under way and on a roll when the enormously popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Phantom of the Opera sets up shop once again on the Denver stage. The Gothic tearjerker begins a reprise run at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, with a preview performance tonight at 8. Phantom then continues through January 7. To beg, borrow, steal or buy your tickets, which range from $15 to $60, call 893-4100.

Sunday November 13 Hula hoot: The beauty of American music is its own lovely, rampant tendency to cross-pollinate. Blues and bluegrass mingle, as do jazz and country music. And way off in Hawaii, a cowboy's slide guitar found its way into native hands, birthing a sound as unique and soothing as an island breeze. Slack key guitar, named for its specific, lazy tuning, has no greater champion than Ray Kane, an unassuming and friendly instrumental master much admired by studious musical folks like Ry Cooder and David Lindley. Kane and fellow slacker Keola Beamer are special guests at tonight's E-Town taping, which takes place before a live audience at 7 in the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. And for the $6 admission price ($8 day of show), you also get a second crack at Trout Fishing in America (see Friday). Call 786-7030.

Monday November 14 The psychological approach: Think this one through. That's sound advice for Dr. Alan Gregory, the psychologist protagonist of Stephen White's bestselling thriller Private Practices. Gregory is back, this time backing up his lady love in her investigation of a murder case, in White's new book, which delves analytically into Mormon culture while solving the mystery. White will speak and autograph copies of Higher Authority tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. For details call 322-7727.

Tuesday November 15 Emerald city: Add one part Buzzcocks, one part West Coast angst, a dash of Clash and a sprinkle of, oh, Billy Idol, and you'll probably come up with something remarkably similar to Green Day. Funny, high-strung and decadently retro, front man Billie Joe and band dish up new wave and manage to sound completely fresh, like they'd dreamed it up themselves. That must be why they were such a big hit at Woodstock II. Tonight the yellow brick road leads to the Mammoth Events Center, 1510 Clarkson St., where Pansy Division opens for Green Day at 7. Tickets are $15; call 830-2525 or 290-TIXS.

Renaissance man: People like Rolling Stone Ron Wood need to relax, too. And in Wood's case, that means putting his guitar up on the wall long enough to sketch photorealistic renditions of his bandmates and contemporaries. It's no news that they go for a pretty penny, too. Around forty of Wood's works, including color serigraphs of Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash (that one includes Slash's John Hancock alongside Wood's), will be on display at the Circle Gallery of Cherry Creek, 221 Detroit St., today through December 11. An opening reception will be held this evening from 6 to 8; call 377-8706 for information.

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