Wednesday April 12 Pulling strings: Based in Colorado Springs, where they are artists-in-residence at that city's University of Colorado campus, the Da Vinci String Quartet is a chamber ensemble at home with a variety of composers and musical periods. The prize-winning group--Jerilyn Jorgensen, Kay Kireilis, Margaret Miller and Katharine Knight--will be on loan to us for a concert tonight at 7:30, with help from CU-Denver's Zoe Erisman and Gregory Walker. They'll perform works by Haydn, Beethoven and Chausson at the St. Cajetan's Events Center, 1190 9th St., on the Auraria campus. Tickets, available at the door, are $10 ($5 seniors and students, CU-Denver students free). For information call 556-2757.

Rubbing noises: That slow bash and drone you hear must be the Melvins, a band that takes backward and forward steps in the same beat, dragging the soul of Metallica in its wake. The Melvins headline tonight at 8 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; contributing with opening decibels and other strange feats are godheadSilo and the Smackjackets. Admission is $8.40 in advance ($10.50 day of show); call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.

Thursday April 13 Backhanded compliment: Hockey is alive and well in Denver. The Denver Grizzlies, who clinched the International Hockey League's Southwestern Conference title this year with flying colors, will now begin their bid for the IHL title in the first round of the Turner Cup Playoffs. The stick-wielding bruins will face off against the Minnesota Moose tonight and tomorrow at 7, at home at McNichols Arena. They go on the road Friday and Saturday, returning to McNichols, if necessary, on April 25 for game five. And if they win this round, it's on to round two and stiffer competition. Tickets to each match, available at the Grizzlies box office or King Soopers stores, range from $9 to $17; call 1-800-444-SEAT to order by phone.

Beautiful dreamer: Now that her entrancing novels have made her a major name in the literary world, magical realist Isabel Allende has penned an autobiography, Paula, as moving and fanciful as her fictional works. Allende will be at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., tonight at 7:30 to read excerpts from the powerful book. Numbers for a place in line will be given out beginning at 6:30; call 322-7727 for details.

Friday April 14 Passion is no ordinary word: Few songwriters as fine as Graham Parker have had to endure obscurity for as long a time. It's closing in on twenty years since his first album, Howling Wind, sliced through the mid-Seventies dreck with one of the most haunting yet angrily well-conceived sets of tunes to touch the industry before or since. And some think he peaked with 1979's sizzling Squeezing Out Sparks, widely considered the record that most successfully honed Parker's skills to perfection. Parker's most undaunted fans will tell you, though, that his writing has never faltered over the years, in spite of ravaged record deals and a much-heralded, more mature laid-back period. Somehow, he's fought back the martyrdom by continually penning tunes with both friendly wit and the right measure of the old vitriol. Parker will perform tonight at 9 with his current band, the Episodes, at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. For tickets, $16, call 322-2308 or 1-800-444-SEAT. All bottled up: Journalist, columnist and author Pete Hamill has no shame. His bestselling memoir, A Drinking Life, never sidesteps his years of alcoholism now past but instead weaves them into an account flavored by both spiraling descent and the lessons learned. Along the way, Hamill injects vivid pictures of Irish Catholic street life in Brooklyn--where he grew up during the '30s and '40s--and of his ensuing fast life as a New York City reporter under the influence. In town for the day, Hamill will speak at a noon luncheon at the Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl. ($12-$14, 571-5260), and autograph books at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. (322-7727).

Saturday April 15 True believer: In the mold of Richard Thompson, England's Clive Gregson sings, plays guitar and writes one hell of a great song. No wonder, when you consider that Gregson is not only a Thompson fan but a sometime Thompson bandmate. In recent years, he's recorded some wonderful records and toured with Christine Collister as well (their Swallow Hill gig two years ago is fondly remembered). This time around, though, Gregson is doing it all on his own. He graces the comfy Swallow Hill Music Hall stage, 1905 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8. Admission is $12 ($10 members); call 777-1003 to reserve seats.

A square deal: In old-time baseball language, being "square" meant you had pluck on the playing field. And if you were a "striker," it meant you were hitting the ball rather than voicing grievances. While the big-leaguers tone up during this year's extended spring training, the strikers of the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association will, in fact, be hitting balls out of the park. Today the group begins its season with a match between the bloomered Colorado Territorial All-Stars and the mustachioed Littleton Rough and Readies. Not only that, but just like the Rockies, they'll play in a fancy new ballpark, this one fully equipped with packing-crate bleachers. The game, which takes place at Fort Logan Base Ball Park, Oxford Ave. and Lowell Blvd., begins at 10 a.m., following a dedication of the field at 9:45. For information call 973-8369.

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