THRILLS

Wednesday July 26 Moonlight serenade: Get out your shoulder pads, girls--Larimer Square will be transformed this evening into a wartime dancehall, with help from the still-rollicking Glenn Miller Big Band Orchestra. Although bandleader Miller perished more than fifty years ago, his spirit continues to jitterbug into the Nineties as the band carries on, tootling ancient hits like "Little Brown Jug" and "In the Mood." The outdoor concert begins in the square at 5:30, continuing until 11, rain or shine, and it's absolutely free. For details call 607-1276.

Thursday July 27 Leave 'em in the dusk: If you're a night owl more accustomed to running with reflectors strapped to your thighs than in the dawn's early light, it's unlikely that you rev up before the dinner hour. So you miss out on all those nifty running events where one can pound the pavement for charitable causes and get T-shirts, win prizes and enjoy free entertainment for the trouble. Well, now it's your turn--the annual One Step Closer Twilight 5K Walk-Run, a benefit for Food Bank of the Rockies that includes walk, run, wheelchair and fun-run activities, doesn't begin until 6:30 tonight, in City Park. And after the race, all entrants are invited to a free Twilight Party in the Park. Entry fees range from $10 to $15 in advance, depending on your age group ($20 for adults on race day); call 727-8700.

Friday July 28 The King is back: He's the highest profile in Latin jazz--and the fame is hardly unearned. "El Rey" Tito Puente is the ultimate salsa timbalero--a tireless, physical performer with a sparkle in his eye and deep knowledge, picked up during his childhood in New York's Spanish Harlem, of the sparkling rhythms he purveys. Puente, now in his seventies but clearly not ready to slow down, performs with his Latin Jazz All-Stars outdoors tonight at 8 as part of the ListenUptown Concert Series in the DCPA Common at the Plex, 14th and Curtis streets, where picnics are favored, the acoustics are fine, parking is easy--and dancing is definitely allowed. For tickets, $18, call 777-7372 or 830-TIXS.

Swing LoDo: The best thing about the LoDo Music Festival, back again for its third year, is its down-to-earth eclecticism, fitting for an outdoor weekend bash in one of the oldest yet trendiest neighborhoods in town. Under the loom of Coors Field, the fest spreads out between 18th and 20th streets, from Wazee Street to the railroad tracks, beginning at 4 daily today and tomorrow. And what a spread it'll be: Onstage talent ranges from roadhouse stumper Delbert McClinton, Motown monsters Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Tex polka's Brave Combo and Louisiana's Beausoleil, all performing tonight, to salsa percussionist Manny Oquendo and the unsung Libre, jazzy bluesman Robben Ford, revived funksters War and the Gap Band, and rising stars Storyville, performing tomorrow. That's merely a smattering of the total roster, which will be divvied up between three stages on the festival site. Tickets are $16 for each day, available by calling 830-TIXS. For information call 888-5636.

Gym dandy: Forget about sitting in a stuffy auditorium for this dance performance. Higher Ground, a work by the Sarah Skaggs Dance Company described as a site-specific dance party, will change the way you think about choreography forever. The piece, set up in a gymnasium for a nightclub ambience, features dancers that catapult, bound and vogue across the playing floor like athletes and invites viewers to stick around for dancing to a DJ afterward. Skaggs and company will perform in conjunction with the Colorado Dance Festival tonight and tomorrow at 8:30 at Casey Middle School, 13th and High streets, Boulder. Admission is $13.50; call 442-7669 for reservations.

Saturday July 29 Go West, young man: Freed slaves eager for steady incomes and recognition as new citizens flocked to the military in the years following the Civil War. Buffalo Soldiers West, a new exhibit at the Colorado History Museum, explores--using images, antique uniforms, weapons and equipment--the period between 1866 and 1892, when more than 10,000 segregated black enlistees participated in the nation's push west. In conjunction with the exhibit, curator William W. Gwaltney and other historians will provide special programs and tours during today's opening, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and a family day, with drills performed by mounted soldiers in period dress, will be held on August 12. Or view Buffalo Soldiers West without the hoopla, through September 15; entrance fees range from $1.50 to $3. The museum is located at 1300 Broadway; call 866-3682.

Sunday July 30 It's his life, and he'll do what he wants: Club-sandwiched between the British Invasion's Beatles, Stones and the Who were the Animals, a gritty Newcastle pop band led by growling Eric Burdon, whose overt blues influences garnered the group a 1964 hit with "House of the Rising Sun." Like the others, Burdon and crew took a psychedelic detour as the Sixties progressed; later, the riveting vocalist went solo, hooking up first with Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar, then with War and more recently with onetime Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Brian Auger. A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Burdon still cooks--see for yourself tonight at 9 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. Tix are $13 in advance ($15 at the door); call 322-2308.

Art of the city: Circle the city today, Sunday afternoon art walkers--there's plenty to see. At the Foothills Art Center, 809 15th St., Golden, entrants from across the nation will be represented in the annual Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Exhibition, opening today with a reception from 2 to 4. The show, whose 112 airy works include a wide gamut of figurative and abstract images, is on display though September 17; call 279-3922. Is art for the birds? At the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., it is: Over 100 artists--architects, children, bird lovers and others--submitted entries in the DBG's BirdHaus Competition, resulting in a show both humorous and sophisticated. Not an egg was laid--but some entries were astounding. For instance, Burr, Corey and John Hamilton crafted a trilogy of avian crash pads, including one with a dipping magnetic perch, one featuring a nest of iron shavings and the last, a hanging hardware store conveniently stocked with nesting materials; Kenneth Gamet created a deco mansion of fine hardwoods; Karen Morris poured on the whimsy, building a cat-shaped house with a grinning maw for an entrance; and Alfredo Garcia-Lucio surrounded his structure with a gorgeous four-foot-square garden. Today is the last day to catch the exhibition; admission to the gardens, open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., is $4 ($2 kids six to twelve; kids five and under free). For details call 370-8187. Plane folks will fly high at the Wings Over the Rockies Aviation and Space Museum, where you can enjoy not only regular exhibits of rare aircraft but also an exclusive show of limited-edition prints by aviation artist Robert Taylor, which concludes today. The museum, located in Hangar One at the former Lowry Air Force Base (enter at 1st Ave. and Quebec St.), will be open from noon to 4; call 360-6360. Finally, a show of drawings and sketches by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer requires a slight swing out of the metro-area limits but could be worth the drive north to Fort Collins. The show, in the Walkway Gallery at the Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia, hangs through August 28. Call 1-970-221-6735 for directions.

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