Thursday August 3 Spinning bee: Regional storytellers will weave a crazy quilt of tales and yarns when the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival gathers again in Palmer Lake, beginning this evening. The two days and three nights of workshops and performances--including classes for academic credit for the serious and evening ghost stories for the easily frightened--culminate Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. concert featuring Albuquerque's Joe Hayes, who specializes in bilingual tellings based on Hispanic, Native American and Anglo traditions of the Southwest; Cherie Karo Smith, a Jewish folklorist; and CU theater professor and children's book author Brad Bowles. Tickets are available for the entire festival or for individual events or workshops, and family rates are offered; for information call 321-7543 or 1-800-484-6963.
Upright citizen: Acoustic bassist Charlie Haden has never been afraid of taking chances. And every project in which he's participated--from a long-lived stint helping saxophonist Ornette Coleman shake up the jazz world to the profound and politically overt Liberation Music Orchestra, a big-band teamup with Carla Bley--has been marked with integrity, quiet virtuosity and an intense, modern sense of musical space. More recently, between a gig jamming with drummer Ginger Baker, a drop-dead-beautiful duet with Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes and countless other collaborations, Haden heads up his own group, Quartet West. It is with the quartet that Haden will perform tonight at 7:15 at the breezily intimate Denver Botanic Gardens outdoor amphitheater, 1005 York St. Admission is $18 ($15 DBG members); call 777-7372 for reservations.
Friday August 4 Heart of grass: Unlike Planet Bluegrass's ridiculously popular Telluride fest, its Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival sticks steadfastly to bluegrass--although the same can't necessarily be said for the music itself, which in modern times approaches the sophisticated borders of jazz and swing. In other words, bluegrass ain't just breakneck riffs and keening voices anymore. You'll get varying shades of each tradition at the fest, which begins today and continues through Sunday in Lyons with the cream of the string-band crop--including, among others, quivery-voiced Alison Krauss, old-timer Jimmy Martin (the original truck-driving crooner) and a star-studded RockyGrass Jam composed of biggies like Bela Fleck and Tony Rice. Admission is $55 for a full pass (tack on twenty bucks to include camping fees) or $20 to $25 daily; call 449-6007. But if you must miss the festival, one of its quintessential participants, The Grass Is Greener--featuring a wonderful lineup of fiddler Richard Greene, banjo player Bill Keith, mandolinist Butch Baldasarri, bassist Tim Emmons and extraordinary guitarist David Grier (hailed in Acoustic Guitar magazine as the pre-eminent bluegrass strummer of his time)--pops in tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, before heading for the hills tomorrow. Tickets to the concert, sponsored by the Swallow Hill Music Association, are $15 ($13 members); call 777-1003 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Northern exposure: First Friday gallery strollers in LoDo might do well to head across the highway tonight to check out some of the northside openings as well. The title Words and Pictures well sums up Denver painter Roland Bernier's show at the Mackey Gallery, 2900 W. 29th Ave., featuring works that layer text and images, through August 26. At M-Art Gallery, an offshoot located on the Mackey premises, stylish wooden forms used in the fabrication of metal machine parts will be displayed as art objects in Industrial Pattern Art, also opening tonight and continuing through September 30. Attend a joint reception from 7 to 10 p.m.; for details call 455-1157. Spark Gallery, 1535 Platte St., annually hosts a series of gratis art classes for AIDS patients. Works in various media created in the workshops are featured in Art for People With AIDS, opening tonight with a reception from 5 to 10. For information about the show, which can be viewed through August 13, call 455-4435. Finally, works by artistic first-time juvenile offenders taken under the wing of the Denver District Attorney's A.R.T.T. (Acquiring Restitution Through Talent) program will be showcased at the Common Grounds Coffeehouse's Ground Works Art Gallery, 3484 W. 32nd Ave. The works, ranging from polished wood items to handpainted scarves, will be on display through August 24. A reception will be held from 7 to 10 tonight; call 458-5248.
Saturday August 5 Poetry in motion: Open Rangers, a local multimedia poetry aggregate, steps into what it hopes will be a brave new world for verse when the poetry-theater production Reign of the Scar Clan opens at 7 tonight for a run at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. By melding dance, theatrical elements, sound and set design, the Rangers hope to break public-acceptance barriers with the performance, which continues on Fridays and Saturdays through September 9. Admission is $8; for reservations call 294-9281.
Dig in: Here's one instance when you won't mind having sand kicked in your eyes--and the sand is sure to fly when the Bud Light Men's Pro Beach Volleyball League pits some of the nation's best beach boys against one another at the net, today and tomorrow at Caldonia's Restaurant, 2252 S. Parker Rd., Aurora. The round-robin tournament begins at 10 this morning, with play continuing tomorrow at 9. A championship match, which will be videotaped for later airing on ESPN, follows at 1; winners have a shot at Volley Bowl IV, to be held in September in Honolulu. Spectator admission is free; call 752-3829.