Wednesday May 24 A key player: Musician Robin Connell takes her jazz straightahead, but she isn't afraid to rework the standards to her own liking. The Detroit composer/pianist, who knocked about New York City before moving to Greeley in 1991, will bring drummer Mike Smith, bassist Eric Applegate and trombonist Paul Brewer to a performance tonight at 8 at Vartan Jazz, 231 Milwaukee St. Admission to the concert, sponsored by the Creative Music Works, is $5 ($4 CMW members); for further information call 399-1111 or 797-0860.

No. 9, No. 9...: Reggae-tinged and delivered in full croak, Bronx bomber Nine's signature hip-hop is made richer by the unexpected addition of background violins, piano and horns. Nine unapologetically says the fat instrumentation provides a contrast to his unpretty voice. And why Nine? Because, as he told one interviewer, he was "born on the ninth day of the year '69 at 9 o'clock in the ninth month." Nine appears this evening at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, along with openers Da Bush Babees and Kokomoz. For tickets, $12.60, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.

Head games: When broadcast journalist Billy Golfus woke from a coma, the result of an automobile accident, his life was turned on its side. Brain-damaged and hemiplegic, Golfus learned quickly about discrimination toward the disabled. When Billy Broke His Head...and Other Tales of Wonder, a documentary co-produced by Golfus and David Simpson, irreverently explores the public's attitudes about people who need assistance with things the rest of us take for granted. Chances are it'll change your attitude: As Golfus says, "This ain't exactly your inspirational-cripple story." Billy airs tonight at 7 on KBDI-TV/Channel 12.

Thursday May 25 Well-versed: If your need to hear poetry read on a regular basis goes unrequited, you may not have stumbled upon Toads in the Garden, a weekly happening at the Daily Grind Coffee House that combines open readings with special guest appearances. Hosted by Catherine O'Neill, editor of Denver poetry journal Poiesis, the Thursday-night series begins at 7:30 with the words of brave amateurs--and anyone else hungering for an audience. Guest readers follow at 8; tonight, DU professor and oft-published prizewinner Bin Ramke is featured. Admission is $2 ($1 with student ID); call 573-JAVA. The Daily Grind is in the Tivoli Student Union, 900 S. Auraria Pkwy., on the Auraria campus.

Friday May 26 Give 'em some Zip: People who start galleries and arts venues know that there's strength in numbers. So it goes on the burgeoning block at 37th Ave. and Navajo St., first pioneered by Pirate and later homesteaded by Edge and the Bug Performance and Media Center, where a sense of camaraderie and community gives the area momentum. Zip 37, a gallery at 3644 Navajo, is the latest newcomer, a group effort founded by Denver artists Reed Weimer and Chandler Romeo. Zip 37's doors swing open tonight with a reception from 7 to 11; for additional information call 477-4525.

Saturday May 27 Take a peak: There's something about Memorial Day weekend that just makes you want to head for the hills and smell that piney-sweet air. In spite of this year's late-hanging snow in the high country, there are plenty of special goings-on to choose from. Not quite in the mountains, but close enough, Boulder will celebrate spring with its annual Boulder Creek Festival, replete with an arts showcase, live entertainment, a fitness expo, a food fest, community-minded pancake breakfasts and rubber duck races, and much more. Activities will center around Central Park and the Boulder Public Library lawn between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. today and tomorrow. Higher up, but still easy to get to, the annual cozy and nostalgic Idaho Springs Turn On offers tours of mountain cemeteries and historic districts, as well as the event's reason to be: the turning on of the Charlie Tayler Waterwheel--a familiar Idaho Springs sight--for the summer, today at 10 a.m. Tours take place Sunday and Monday; for information and reservations call 567-9200. Farther up I-70, spring will be greeted by the annual Breckenridge Art Show, a juried affair featuring fine art and crafts in a variety of media. Open from 10 to 6 daily today through Monday, the show will be set up in the Bell Tower Mall parking area on Main Street in Breckenridge. Admission is free, but be prepared for temptation; call 1-970-453-6018 for exhibition details or 1-800-221-1091 for lodging information. Telluride primes itself for a summer of festivals and fun with the seventeenth annual MountainFilm, a showcase as breathtaking as those scenic Telluride surroundings. Standouts at this year's MountainFilm include Fire on the Mountain--the story of the 10th Mountain Division, a unique World War II military unit trained in Colorado for winter warfare on the peaks of the Italian Alps; an appearance by Joe Simpson, author of the classic mountaineering novel Touching the Void; and an Always Cry Wolf Symposium, with author Rick Bass and photographer Jim Brandenburg. The festival continues through Monday; various passes are available, ranging in price from $60 to $250. Call 1-970-728-4123. And up in Creede, you can follow the time-honored Memorial Day tradition of pigging out at the Taste of Creede, going on today and tomorrow. In addition to a spread of culinary delights from local restaurants, the sturdy mountain town will host gallery openings, art demonstrations, a folk concert and a Mountain Man Rendezvous, with blackpowder shoots and tomahawk-throwing contests. For information call 1-800-327-2102.

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