Thrills for the week

August 8
Lunar tunes: A little bit of music and magic will intertwine under the stars when Denver's enduring Chicano/Latino theater group, El Centro Su Teatro, presents local playwright Anthony Garcia's Return of the Barrio Moon for three nights at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax. The bilingual outdoor performance, mixing songs and poetic cuentos, or stories, in a look at the lives of four residents of the Southwestern town of Barrio Moon, begins at 8 nightly, today through Saturday; El Centro in the Park admission is free for all. Bring a picnic dinner and share in a community event; for details call 296-0219.

Play's the thing: The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, already a family kind of place, may rival F.A.O. Schwarz as a toy emporium for the next few months, while Toys and Games: An International Exhibit From the Flanders Museum, Mechelen, Belgium is whimsically displayed in its galleries. The traveling toy collection, featuring superlative Marklin toy trains, a historical overview of military figurines, dolls, teddy bears, mechanical amusements and even a miniature reproduction of the Battle of Waterloo, opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 9; curators from the Belgian museum will be on hand. A joy for kids, grownups and connoisseurs alike, the exhibit continues through November 3. For information call the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., at 431-3939.

Your hitch parade: Former Lenny Kravitz sideman Karl Denson, a funkified saxophonist rooted in the solid jazz traditions of Coltrane and Rollins, and D.J. Andreas Stevens are the driving forces behind the Greyboy Allstars, but trombonist Fred Wesley, veteran of the great James Brown and P-Funk horn sections, is clearly along for the ride. Stick out your thumb and you can hop on the bus, too: The combo, an underground success story featuring Wesley's propulsive 'bone work, appears tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $14.70, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.

August 9
Smokestack lightning: Pictures of man's monuments--castles, industrial sites and skyscrapers devoid of mortal imagery and overshadowed by haze and smoke--somehow comment on man himself in Michael Kenna: New Work, an exhibit of bleak, small-scale yet illuminating photographs debuting at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., where gallery director Hal Gould continues his exemplary policy of bringing world-class photography to Denver. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 tonight; Kenna's mysterious works can be seen through September 8. Call 623-4059.

Putting down roots: Two great branches of American music share the spotlight this weekend at different venues, but both events promise good times and sublime tunes. The annual three-day Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival, fondly known as RockyGrass and brought to you by the same folks responsible for the renowned Telluride Bluegrass Festival, amasses the best of the country's lightning-fast pickers, fiddlers and rustic crooners at the scenic, riverside Planet Bluegrass amphitheater in Lyons. Headliners include Laurie Lewis and Grant Street, Tim and Mollie O'Brien, Doc Watson, the Seldom Scene and Crucial Country, a supergroup with Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas and Gene Libbea. The nearly nonstop music begins this afternoon at 4, tomorrow at 10:30 and Sunday at 11. Three-day festival passes are $60, while daily admission ranges from $20 to $25; call 449-6007. Also outdoors, at the equally scenic Red Rocks amphitheater, is tonight's House of Blues Tour, a guitar-heavy rhythm-and-blues barrage featuring legendary bluesman Buddy Guy, rock survivor Joe Cocker, the crowd-pleasing Radiators, Kim Wilson's Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Gales Brothers (left-handed and upside-down, every last one of 'em). Tickets to the 6 p.m. show are $25 general admission and $27.50 reserved, plus the usual tacked-on seat taxes and service charges; call 830-TIXS.

August 10
I'm your puppet: When local kids and artists join together to pull a few strings, the end product is Bigger Than Your Head. And that isn't a hat or an idea or even a breadbox--BTYH refers, instead, to monster puppets created from glue, staples, paint, found objects and whatever during special summer puppet-making programs that were held at the Acoma City Center, Globeville Recreation Center and Girls, Incorporated. Oversized, kid-designed concoctions, as well as those conceived by professional artist advisors, including Lonnie Hanzon, Jane Hargrove, Tim Flynn and Tracy Weil, will be the central attraction at a 10:30 a.m. pageant in Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax; at 11:30, the whole spectacle will then parade from the park to Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St., in a processional leading to a noon picnic and celebration for all. Inexpensive food will be available for purchase at the center, but additional games, entertainment, facility tours and general merrymaking are free. For information call 534-2767.

Songs of Bernadette: Bubbly Bernadette Peters may be a comic screen star and a big-voiced recording artist, but the Tony Award-winner's best moments have probably been on the Broadway stage, where she's wowed 'em in hits like George M!, On the Town, Sunday in the Park With George and The Goodbye Girl. Peters should be no less explosive tonight when she lights up Broadway Under the Stars, a pops offering at Fiddler's Green, 5350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Admission to the 8 p.m. concert is $35 for reserved seating and $20 for lawn seats; to purchase tickets call 986-9742 or 830-TIXS.

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