Thrills for the week

June 17
Ain't too proud to beguile: Either you like her or you don't. But singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant--the solo act cut loose from her launching pad, 10,000 Maniacs--is here to stay and ready to serve a dainty platter of musical fire and ice from her first album, Tigerlily, to the sensitive, earnest girls and lovestruck boys who compose her fan base. Wherever you stand on the love/hate issue, you can't argue that the light-on-her-toes Merchant is an original, and she's a perfect starry-eyed performer for the enchanting Red Rocks stage. Hear her there tonight at 7:30; for tickets, $20 to $22, call 830-TIXS.

June 18
The Beats go on: Poets and writers who consider Boulder's Naropa Institute a home away from home convene each summer for the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, a loose net comprising workshops, readings and general camaraderie. Several of the Naropa literati will gather there for three nights of round-robin spoken-word readings in the school's performing arts center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. Beat's grand old man, Allen Ginsberg, reads tonight, along with Peter Lamborn Wilson and Joanne Kyger. Mark Amerika, Katie Yates, Bobbie Louise Hawkins and Jack Collom read tomorrow, and Diane DiPrima, Ken Irby and Andrew Schelling read June 20. Admission ranges from $4 to $6 nightly; call 546-3568 for additional information.

June 19
A touch of klezmer: In what might be the most unusual blend of world musics yet, KLAZZJ, a Los Angeleno combo led by klezmer maven Yale Strom, fuses traditional European Jewish strains with a hot Afro-Cuban jazz beat to create a sound that, well, just has to be heard to be believed. Hear away--KLAZZJ performs at The Sound of Summer: An Evening of Klezmer Jazz Under the Stars, tonight at 7 on the Feiner Family Terrace at the Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St. Tickets are $12 ($10 children and seniors); in addition, box dinners, available beginning at 6, can be purchased for $8 each. For reservations, call 399-2660, ext. 337.

Hello, Mollie: Talented multi-instrumentalist sibling Tim has hogged the limelight long enough. Now it's time for sister Mollie O'Brien--whose superb voice, her only instrument, can sigh, snarl and smoke in the same breath--to shine. O'Brien celebrates the release of her new Sugar Hill recording, Tell It True..., with help from the Swallow Hill Music Association, Tim O'Brien and the O'Boys, dobroist Jerry Douglas, bassist Rich Moore, drummer Steve Ivey and special guest Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, this evening at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. The whole kit and kaboodle, ready to hightail it up to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival after the show, goes on stage at 8; to reserve tickets, $15 ($12 Swallow Hill members), call 1-800-444-SEAT, or call 777-1003 for more information.

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