Wednesday March 29 Gimme five: The modest Five Points neighborhood, now a light-rail hub, has been around for a long time, but you may not have paid it much mind until you zipped through it on one of those shiny new LRT cars and took a good look around. Chances are you saw small businesses in brick storefronts and Victorian homes on the side streets, but maybe the historical significance of the area passed you by. In its heyday, Five Points was much more than a streetcar stop--it was an illustrious and swinging cultural hub where Duke Ellington, Count Basie and other jazz greats made music. That's all documented in the Colorado History Museum's wonderful It's Jazz!: Black Musicians in Colorado, 1890-1950 exhibit; now it's celebrated on stage by entertainers of both local and national note in the Eulipions' Five Points Blues musical revue, to be performed tonight at 7 in the museum auditorium, 1300 Broadway. In addition, the Colorado Historical Society is sponsoring an informative bus tour of the area on Sunday, featuring visits to various landmarks and a down-home fried-chicken lunch at Kapre's. Tickets to the performance are $10 ($8 society members); tour seats cost $30 ($25 members). Call 866-4686 for additional information and reservations to either event.
Thursday March 30 Buck stops here:Anybody who sat through Ken Burns's marathon baseball series on PBS knows that the star of that exhaustive enterprise was Negro League great John Jordan O'Neil Jr., better known to his friends and fans as "Buck." O'Neil charmed millions of viewers with his frank but fond tales of baseball in the days before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and he'll share more of those memories today at noon when he addresses a special luncheon at the new Blake Street Baseball Club restaurant. The new eatery--itself a site to see--is located at 1902 Blake Street, just one block from Coors Field. Tickets to Buck's speech are $35 per person, $350 for a table of ten; proceeds will benefit the worthy Ballpark Neighborhood Association, the Denver Forum and the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce. Call 832-9030 to reserve yours.
Hope and Galore: It isn't always fair when the greatest-hits album comes out before the artist is considered truly great, but it hasn't fazed UK songstress Kirsty MacColl, not yet a household name in the States. If the whole thing seems mysterious to you, one listen to her new retrospective, Galore, explains everything perfectly. The pop singer may sound like a country girl raised on a diet of pub anthems and ancient Celtic melodies, but her cynical lyrics cut through the treacle like a knife--a relaxed, sweet, humorous knife, to be sure, but still a knife. Believe it. Luckily, the album doesn't signify a career coming to an end--MacColl herself says, "There's plenty more where this came from!" She's on the stump as we speak--catch her tonight at 7:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets are $5.25; call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.
Keeper of the flamenco: The guitar is surely the instrument of the century--small enough to carry, endlessly expressive and versatile enough to blend into any musical offshoot. Denver's Rene Heredia, a world traveler born in Granada, Spain, and well-versed in the passionate ways of gypsy flamenco, takes full advantage of those qualities, resulting in a percussive, romantic, rose-between-the-teeth sound. He'll headline tonight at a 9 p.m. concert at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. The show also features classical guitarist Stuart Weber, whose outdoorsy repertoire reflects his Montana heritage. Tickets for the performances are $11 in advance ($13 at the door); call 830-TIXS to reserve seats.
Friday March 31 Brown beat: The consummate tasteful bassman, Ray Brown has carried the rhythm behind Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and countless other jazz greats. While it's no small occasion when a player of Brown's stature performs in Denver, he's assembled a spectacular Ray Brown All Star Quartet for this weekend's Mainstream Jazz Evenings at the Park Hill Golf Club. Besides Brown, the combo boasts incomparable vibe master Milt Jackson, pianist Cedar Walton and smiling Billy Higgins on drums. The Park Hill, at 4141 E. 35th Ave., is sure to be the smoothest joint in town tonight and tomorrow; dinner will be served from 5:30 to 8:30, with sets beginning at 7. To reserve your seats, $30 a head, call 333-5414 or 333-2940. Fast.
Toss this around: Even her band's name, Throwing Muses, is brilliant--it's perfect. Kristin Hersh, the group's gifted leader, clearly listens to one--wailing her way through dream imagery, psychotic landscapes and modern concerns, not necessarily in that order. On the latest Muses album, University, Hersh has matured, even settled down a bit, but she's still thinking. Complemented by the opener, Ass Ponys, this bill ought to be a screeching, memorable winner. Admission to the show, 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, is $12.60 in advance ($13.65 day of show); call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS for tickets.
Saturday April 1 Tish, Tish: A favorite with the folk crowd whenever she breezes into Denver, Tish Hinojosa is a treat to hear all on her own. Mixing a melting pot of Texas-centered influences, Hinojosa's rippling voice is equally at home with country twangs, folk lyrics and diverse Latin rhythms, from jogging Tex-Mex to hot island cumbias. Representatives of some of those musical genres--accordionist Santiago Jimenez Jr., Texas songwriter Butch Hancock and cowboy crooner Don Walser--join her on Tish Hinojosa's Border Tour, stopping over tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. That kind of variety is sure to remind you that Texas is one mighty big state. Tickets to the concert, sponsored by the Swallow Hill Music Association, are $17 ($15 Swallow Hill members); call 777-1003 or 1-800-444-SEAT.