Main squeezebox: Her last novel, The Shipping News, ran away with all the most impressive distinctions, including a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, catapulting E. Annie Proulx into the literary limelight. Now her latest, Accordion Crimes, continues in form, following a green accordion built in Italy and brought across the ocean by its immigrant maker as it zigzags through the melting pot of America. A metaphor for the spirit of immigrant cultures lost gradually to assimilation, the accordion survives a century of mayhem and dreams, utilizing the author's masterful storytelling skills and characterizations. Proulx will read some passages tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; numbers for a place in line will be available at 6:30. Call 322-7727.
Art for arf's sake: Denver's premier dog-biscuit bakery, Cosmo's, will host a Dog Days of Summer Show, which opens tonight and features pooch-themed works of art by three locals with very different styles--asymmetrical acrylic-on-wood paintings by Sandy Toland, wire sculptures by Tim Flynn and intricate pen-and-ink work by Westword cartoonist Kenny Be. Part of the proceeds from the show, which will hang at Cosmo's, 1224 E. 6th Ave., through September 18, benefit PAWS, an organization that gives relief to people with AIDS who can no longer care for their pets. An opening reception will be held tonight from 6 to 9; call 777-6500 for details.
My girls: One of Motown's formative girl groups, the Marvelettes were a classic Cinderella story back in the '60s, remembered best for tunes such as "Please Mr. Postman" and "Don't Mess With Bill." Years later, their lineup no longer includes any original members, but the memorable and innocent music remains, as does their signature Motown sparkle and shine. The new Marvelettes perform tonight at 7:30 to kick off the Arvada Center's annual outdoor summer concert season, held at the center's intimate amphitheater at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Reserved seating is $17, general-admission lawn seating is $12, and picnics are welcome (though glass containers and alcoholic beverages are not); call 431-3939 or 830-TIXS for tickets.
Garden party: Exquisite skill and an adventurous repertoire are the trademarks of cellist Carter Brey and pianist Christopher O'Riley, who together headline the summer's opening concert at the Denver Botanic Gardens Outdoor Amphitheater, located among the flora at 1005 York St. The talented pair will perform works by Bach, Prokofiev, Kernis and Brahms tonight at 7:15; for tickets, $19 ($16 DBG members), call 777-3836.
Mountain desires: There are summer camps galore for vacationing kids in search of cultural enrichment, but what about the adults? Now they're covered, too: Under the banner of Romance of the West, a unique series of three weekends, each featuring special programs, tours, workshops, outdoor adventures and other organized activities, will be held in conjunction with The Real West, the joint exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, Central Library and Colorado History Museum. The series begins this evening at 7 with a storytelling fete for grownups, Colorado: Son et Lumiere, headlined by novelist Rudolfo Anaya, Native American yarn-spinner Joseph Bruchac and folklorist Barre Toelken. Tickets for the event, which leads off with a cocktail party in Acoma Plaza, between the art museum and the library, and continues across the street and under the stars in front of the history museum, 1300 Broadway, are $40. A horseback excursion at Red Rocks Park and Dinosaur Ridge, candlelight spelunking in Colorado Springs and a beginner's genealogy workshop are just a few of the events planned for Saturday and Sunday; individual activities range in price from $10 to $125. The series continues July 13-14 and August 10-11; for detailed descriptions, a complete schedule or advance reservations--which are required--call 640-7710.
It's a gas: Here's the idea: a play about events taking place at a hick-town mechanic's garage in rural Missouri that is actually staged in a garage. The Avenue Theater and director Terry Dodd take Joan Ackerman's Stanton's Garage up the road a piece to the former Storz Garage, now a performance space at 501 E. 17th Ave. The environmental-theater project opens tonight at 8 and continues at the same time Thursdays through Saturdays, through August 24. Tickets are $15; call 837-0045 for reservations.
Beer, here: Denver's premier beer event has all the right stuff--freshly prepared, imaginative food, including fish tacos, portabello-mushroom sandwiches, crawfish quesadillas and chipotle potato salad; an outdoor market hawking everything from cigars to home brewing kits; and plenty of live music--but the main attraction at the LoDo Brewfest is, of course, the voluminous selection of suds, from traditional bocks and stouts to unusual smoked beers, Colorado wines, and mead, the "drink of the gods." The fun takes place outdoors at 19th and Wynkoop streets today and tomorrow from 11 to 8; admission is $3 in advance ($5 at the gate), while six-ounce tasters go for a buck apiece. For information call 698-HOPS.
Planet waves: Brazilian jazz percussionist Airto Moreira, multi-octave stylist Flora Purim and guitarist Jose Neto form the core of Fourth World, a legendary meeting of minds and musicianship that erupts with flying fingers, soaring vocal explorations and a global vocabulary of rhythms. Also including keyboardist/flutist Jovino Santos and bassist Gary Brown, the group appears tonight at 8 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave. Admission is $16.50 in advance ($18 day of show); call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Splendor on the grass: Some think it's beginning to look like a local mini-Lollapalooza, but KTCL's Big Adventure, a marathon lineup of national and local bands at Fiddler's Green, manages to project a character all its own. Beginning at 1 this afternoon, the all-day festival will not only bring over nine hours of alternative music heaven, mixing up a free-for-all of rap, rock, punk and funk--it will also feature body-piercing booths and other sideshow diversions. National acts include the re-formed Plimsouls, Love and Rockets, de la Soul and the Posies, while the indigenous roster includes Lord of Word & the Disciples of Bass, Sherri Jackson and the Simpletones; for tickets, $15, call 830-TIXS. Fiddler's Green Amphitheatre is located at 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd.
Frank explorations: In an uncustomary pairing of video and dance, Tales for the Generations examines Jewish history and culture with a final performance in the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's Public Theater tonight at 7. Dybbuks and Chicken Soup, filmmaker Sally Kaplan's firsthand account of her search through Transylvania for her grandmother's past, opens the evening, followed by Diary, a multimedia dance work-in-progress by Jude Landsman based on the writings of Holocaust diarist Anne Frank. Admission ranges from $5 to $8; call 443-2122 for details. BMoCA is located at 1750 13th St., Boulder.
Talk of the town: Spirited debate is the ticket tonight when the Colorado Chautauqua presents Right Brain/Left Brain, a verbal match between liberal Mother Jones editor-in-chief Jeffrey Klein and grumpy, conservative Denver Post editorialist Al Knight. The two face off in certain point-counterpoint fashion tonight at 8 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; for tickets, $5, call 440-7666.
Squeeze play: There's no point in trying to decide who will carry the zydeco mantle now that Clifton Chenier is gone--thankfully, there's more than one contender. But Stanley Dural Jr., better known as Buckwheat Zydeco, stands out at the top of the list. An accordion player of great repute, Buckwheat blends his love of soul, R&B and funk with a purist's grasp of classic zydeco rhythms, making him a fiery performer capable of keeping any audience on its feet. The good times will roll when he performs tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax; for tickets, $12, call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Wheel and deal: Denver Bike Month and its annual schedule of cycle promotions is almost over, though the best always seems to be saved for last. Bike to Work Day encourages all the uptight suits in town to loosen their ties for a day and pedal to work for a change. Festivities begin with breakfast between 6:30 and 9 a.m. in Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway, and continue with a lunch-hour Bike Expo, 11 to 2 in Skyline Park, 16th and Arapahoe streets. Bikers can stay downtown for the Summer Nights in Larimer Square opener--a free outdoor concert at 6 featuring a cappella group the Nylons. For more information, call 640-BIKE; for Larimer Square information call 607-1276.