Thrills for the week

Thursday
July 18
Forever blue: Like endless summers, the ten commandments of love and all that kind of teenage hokum, some things should never change. And if anyone oughta be held responsible for preserving that timeless pop pastiche, it's Chris Isaak, who, with his chiseled pout, vintage axes, sparkly duds and Orbison- and Everly-informed croon, epitomizes another time--in remarkably contemporary terms. Isaak answers the call of his loyal local fans tonight at 7:30 at Red Rocks amphitheater; for tickets, $22.50, call 830-TIXS.

Put Corky in it: That's one of the best ways we know to turn an oh-so-serious chamber-music concert into something more cheerful. Corky Siegel's Chamber Blues, starring harmonica virtuoso/composer Siegel and the West End String Quartet, injects Chicago blues into a classical format--and a good time is guaranteed for all. Tonight at 8, Siegel brings his unique musical meld back to Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd. in Boulder, one of the first venues where it was performed. Admission ranges from $15 to $20; call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS.

Ballet ole: If the best things in life are free, then this must be one of them: The annual free Theater in the Park series in Civic Center Park gets off the ground tonight at 8 with a vivid program of music and dance featuring blaring mariachis and the Ballet Folklerico de Colorado. Topping the evening will be a fully staged and narrated version of The Story of Ferdinand, the children's book about the little bull who would rather "sit just quietly and smell the flowers" than do battle with a matador. The entire program will be repeated at the same time on Friday and Saturday. Bring the family with a picnic, a blanket and maybe an umbrella. Civic Center Park is located at Colfax and Broadway; call 770-2106 for more information.

Friday
July 19
Summer in the City: Denver's stalwart folk-music group the Swallow Hill Music Association and its staunch supporters give something back to one another annually during the Swallow Hill Folkathon, an event that, after five straight years, is fast becoming a summer tradition. The celebration kicks off tonight with a concert featuring local favorites Carla Sciaky, Doug Berch, Johnny Long, Bob Tyler and Sweetwater Well (8 p.m., Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., $12-$14) and continues tomorrow back at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St., where six stages of live music and other entertainment will be the focus from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. New this year to the expanded fest is a spoken-word stage, where storytellers, cowboy poets and other oral emoters will perform. Admission to the festival grounds, in and around Swallow Hill, is $5 ($1 for children eighteen and under); proceeds benefit the association. For tickets or information call 777-1003.

Beantown's finest: When you think pops, you automatically think Boston Pops. The famous orchestra is an American musical icon, due to a 25-year reign on public television as well as extensive touring and recording credits. Led by enthusiastic young conductor Keith Lockhart, who follows in the footsteps of Arthur Fiedler and John Williams, the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra brings its mixture of light classics, novelty works and Broadway show tunes--along with a special guest, frisky jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant--to Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., tonight at 7:30. Ticket prices range from $20 for lawn seating to $35 for reserved seats; call 830-TIXS.

Zydeco attraction: It's an incontrovertible fact of life, cher: Nobody don't love zydeco music. The style's accordion-driven rhythms--part voodoo, part Cajun and part country-blues--are so infectious that any listener within 500 yards is immediately transformed into a dancing fool. Heir apparent C.J. Chenier, son of late zydeco legend Clifton Chenier, carries on the exuberant tradition with help from his Red Hot Louisiana Band tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. For tickets, $8 to $10, call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.

Saturday
July 20
Beyond Jerry: The passing of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was seen by many as the end of an era. And it was. But that hasn't stopped assorted Garcia bandmates from regrouping and industriously rebuilding the anthill in new, adventurous configurations. The result? Further Fest, a traveling road show featuring a revolving roster of friends and remnants that includes guitarist Bob Weir's Ratdog, drummer Mickey Hart's Mystery Box, L.A. rockers Los Lobos, Dead sideman Bruce Hornsby, Hot Tuna and even the Flying Karamazov Brothers. A rock-and-roll art exhibit and the usual Deadhead concessions will enhance Further's all-around experience when the whole caravan camps out today at Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., beginning at 3 p.m. Tickets, $22.50 lawn and $25 reserved, can be purchased by calling 830-TIXS.

Do your bidding: And now, your chance to pick up bona fide works of art. Rule Modern and Contemporary, 111 Broadway, is hosting an auction of more than 100 contemporary paintings, sculptures and prints from a private art collection. Viewing and silent bidding on individual pieces, which include an Alexander Calder tapestry and paintings by Virginia Maitland and Vance Kirkland, will be possible Thursday and Friday during gallery hours, noon to 5 p.m. Final bids will be taken today from noon to 6. For information call 839-5503, or contact Rule at 777-9473.

Sunday
July 21
All cycled up: Everybody gets into the act as the five-race Winter Park Resort Mountain Bike Series continues today with an open-to-all circuit race. Registration, available to males and females of all abilities, ages 8 and up, opens at 8 this morning at the base of the resort; the competition gets rolling at 10. Entry fees are $18 in advance or $20 on race day. For information or to pre-register, call 892-0961, ext. 1589, in metro Denver, or phone the Winter Park Competition Center at 1-970-726-1589. Then strap on your helmet and pedal.

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