THRILLS

Wednesday August 23 Someday your prints will come: The Denver Public Library's new Central Library isn't finished yet, although you can go there to check out a book. But little by little, the witty structure, already brimming with character, is gaining a bit more--as is its excellent, if staid, Western art collection. National artist Ed Ruscha created a seventy-panel painting for the library, incorporating Western imagery (buffalo, wagon trains, tepees) and the modern words and symbols common to his work. The newly installed painting will be dedicated today at 4:30 in the library's Schlessman Hall, 10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., followed by an outdoor reception across the street at 13th and Broadway. It's an elegant way to kick off this year's Friends Foundation's Used Book Sale, a sprawling annual event designed for book lovers of all ages, also taking place at 13th and Broadway. An exclusive preview will be held, for Friends members only, from 5:30 to 8 this evening (memberships, starting at $30, can be purchased at the door). But the rest of us can line up tomorrow, when the sale--a book-pickers' paradise of novels, kids books, travel guides, antique tomes and much more--will open to the public, then continue through the weekend. Think you'll get your fill quickly? Not so fast: This ever-changing portable bookstore is restocked constantly. Sale hours are 9:30 to 5:30 Thursday through Saturday and 11 to 5 Sunday; call 640-6180 for details.

Thursday August 24 Gathering of the tribes: Radio broadcast folks of the KBCO programming ilk will meet in Boulder this week to check out the latest and the best in Adult Album Alternative recording artists. But this is more than a test drive for esoteric unknowns: Three Gavin AAA Convention Showcase Nights, open to the public and held through Saturday at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, feature some truly happenin' acts. Emmylou Harris, a formidable songstress whose repertoire swings from traditional country to folk to rock, starts things off tonight, accompanied by the Daniel Lanois Band; Joan Osborne, Michael McDermitt and Jonathan Brooke and the Story also perform, beginning at 9 p.m. Tomorrow's performers include Natalie Merchant, and Saturday's bill is led by John Hiatt; for tickets, ranging from $15 to $21, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS. But if you call too late to secure a seat for any of those hot-selling evenings, some of the same talent will pop up at E-Town, the public-radio program that tapes live in the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St. Emmylou reappears there tomorrow, Joan Osborne appears Saturday and Hiatt performs Sunday. All shows begin at 7 p.m.; for information and tickets, $7 in advance ($9 day of show), call 786-7030.

Friday August 25 Gospel truth: Clarence Fountain doesn't mind the blues, as long as you understand this: "The difference is that in gospel we sing about Jesus, and the blues guys sing about their baby." Or so says the lead singer of the soul-stirring Blind Boys of Alabama. In concert, the group--respected elders of African-American gospel who've been performing since the '40s--more than proves its spiritual devotion, wrapping it up in the kind of timeless harmonies and finger-snapping rhythms that inspired doo-woppers, Al Green, Otis Redding and Aretha herself. In other words, they're not to be missed. Mosey on down to the Arvada Center tonight at 7:30 and you'll be treated to a transcendent concert bordering on a foot-stomping revival meeting, all under the stars in the center's outdoor amphitheater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Admission is $16 reserved ($8 lawn); call 431-3939 for reservations. And tell 'em God sent you.

Triple-strength action: What happens when three giants of jazz fusion get together and jam? In the case of Rite of Strings--bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al Di Meola and violinist Jean-Luc Ponty--they simply wail, with heart-stopping, gorgeous results. The union marks a high point in each member's evolving career: Clarke recently completed a film score, Di Meola's blurry-fingered guitar attack has calmed into something more passionate, tempered by the influence of late tangomaster Astor Piazzolla, and Ponty, a veteran of the Mothers of Invention and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, lately has melded West African rhythms into his classically derived, jazzed-up sound. They'll perform tunes from their self-titled CD tonight at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. To reserve tickets, $18 to $23, call 534-8336 or 830-TIXS.

Saturday August 26 Hot plants: Has the acrid, spicy smell of flamed Hatch chiles seared your nostrils lately? Makes you hungry, doesn't it? It's just a given for those of us living in these parts, and it's a perfect excuse to celebrate Southwestern culture, all in the late bloom of August. The Chile Harvest Festival, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., does it up right, spotlighting Colorado's Spanish colonial heritage in myriad ways. Activities include a salsa taste-off for the strong of tongue and tours of DBG demonstration gardens planted with over 150 chile varieties--big, small, colorful, mild and five-alarm. Add to that craft demonstrations featuring tin workers, adobe makers, weavers and more; live music and dance (the popular Grupo Tlaloc will perform at the festival's opening ceremony); and a "hummingbird headdress" station for kids. Enjoy it all from 9 to 5 today and tomorrow. Gate admission is $4 ($2 seniors and kids six to twelve); for additional information call 370-8187.

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