THRILLS

Wednesday January 11 Be a sport: The next best thing to a tramp through the woods is a visit to the Denver Sportsmen's Show, a five-day event opening today at the Colorado Convention Center. There you'll find the indoor Wild Trout River, a slate of outdoor seminars, a fly-tying theater with demonstrations twice daily, and even a pair of live wolverines--along with the requisite aisles of exhibits and displays. Attend the show from 2 to 10 today through Friday, 11 to 9 Saturday or 11 to 6 Sunday; the convention center is located at 700 14th St. Daily admission is $7 ($4 for kids six to sixteen, kids under six free); for information call 640-8000.

Thursday January 12 Nine by seven: Welcome to the '90s, space cowboys--that short attention span you're so worried about simply goes with the territory. But even if sitting through several acts and an intermission turns you into a fidgety claustrophobic, there's still hope for you as a theatergoer. Colorado Quickies 2, the second in a series of clever showcases at the Changing Scene, 1527 1/2 Champa St., features nine short works by seven Colorado playwrights--all clocking in at around ten minutes each. The wave of the future? You'll just have to attend to find out--performances continue at 7 Thursdays and Sundays and at 8 Fridays and Saturdays through January 22. To reserve tickets, $6 to $7, call 893-5775.

Back in the saddle again: Where the stock show goes, the music follows. Denver is rounding up a wagonload of singin' cowpokes this week for anyone interested in riding the range--the full range, that is. Just don't get any saddle sores, pardner. At the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., the sixth annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering is getting under way tonight, spotlighting the range rovers' particular way of howling at the moon. Poets and musicians from throughout the West will perform for four days, touching on subjects as close to home as a rodeo and as far-flung as the Australian bush. Tickets for daytime festivities, set for Friday and Saturday from 10 to 5, are $4 daily; main-stage performances, at 7:30 tonight through Saturday and 1 on Sunday, cost $12.50. Call 431-3939 or 290-TIXS. Yet another summit of Western voices gathers tonight at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., headlined by Michael Martin Murphey and a mess of his warbling cohorts. The evening is a benefit for the Denver-based North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. Tickets, $19.50 to $40, can be reserved by calling 534-8336. Neal McCoy, who is as likely to rap the Beverly Hillbillies theme song as he is to belt out one of his own hits, sings at the Paramount tomorrow at 8; tickets are $9.85. And the Grizzly Rose, at 5450 N. Valley Hwy., opens up its enormous dance floor for fans of country crooners Joe Diffie, appearing tonight and tomorrow, and Tracy Lawrence, who will be there Sunday night. Tickets to either of those shows are $15; call 295-1330. But no January would be complete without the return of local songstress Lannie Garrett, in the comic guise of cowgirl Patsy DeCline, to the Denver Buffalo Company, 1109 Lincoln, for a season of fun with the La-Z-Boy Rockers. Hear Patsy at 9:30 on Fridays and Saturday evenings through March 18. For more information call 832-0880.

Friday January 13 Global warning: The revamped Vogue Theatre, back in the swing after a fallow period at 1485 S. Pearl St., steps on the gas tonight when it presents Lonely Planet, a work by Colorado native and nationally known playwright Steven Dietz making its regional premiere. The play, an AIDS allegory that takes place in a map store, opens tonight at 7 for a run continuing Thursdays through Saturdays until February 11. Tickets are $12 ($10 students and seniors); call 744-8990 for reservations.

Ten-gallon art: The Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, 1701 Wazee St., salutes the stock show season with a new exhibit, The Real West: A Contemporary Photographic Overview, opening today and continuing through February 25. The invitational show, featuring works by a wide palette of known and emerging Colorado photographers, contains images that deal with various (and at times opposing) aspects of the West and subjective views juxtaposed with objective documentaries. A public reception will be held from 7 to 8 on January 20; for gallery hours call 294-5207.

Saturday January 14 Peachy Keen: You've gotten the scoop here on just about everything country and/or Western happening in town this week, and you still need an alternative? What you want is an honest-to-God songwriter, a cozy, funny, literate sort all too familiar with lonely backroads and hooch-soaked honky-tonks, and Texan Robert Earl Keen--in the area for a series of folksy concerts--should fill the niche quite nicely. Catch Keen while you can; he performs this evening at the Bluebird Theater, (8 p.m., 3317 E. Colfax, $10-$12, 322-2308), tomorrow--along with Memphis grunge-folker Todd Snider--on public radio's E-Town (7 p.m., Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, $6-$8, 786-7030) and Monday at the Fox Theatre (8 p.m., 1135 13th St., Boulder, $12.60, 447-0095).

Swing shift: An evening with Gypsy Mandolin, a trio formed around fiery mandolinist Charlie Provenza, is surely the stuff of golden earrings and a romantic life. Provenza blends traditional music from Eastern Europe, Russia and Greece with the breezy swing influenced by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and pioneered by fellow mando-virtuoso David Grisman. In other words, you've got your "Hungarian Rhapsody" as well as your on-the-money "Satin Doll." Provenza picks tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St.; also on the bill are singer Carol Van Al-stine, dulcimer player Willie Jaeger and guitarist Scott Bennett. Call 777-1003 to purchase tickets; they're $11 ($9 members).

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