Put this in your bagpipe and smoke it: Celts from everywhere will be flipping their kilts for the Longs Peak Scottish Highland Festival in Estes Park, a four-day extravaganza of all things Celtic. Live music, a jousting tournament, a dog show and a dance competition are just a few of the events planned for the fest, but the thundering pipe-band pageantry promised daily, as well as the kick-up-yer-heels Ceilidh (that's Scottish for "party down," dudes) planned for Friday and Saturday nights, may be your main reasons for attending. The celebration gets off to a rousing start tonight at 7:30 at Stanley Park Fairgrounds, where a traditional tattoo (or parade) features pipe bands galore, hailing from around the globe; day-long events and evening parties and concerts continue through Sunday at the fairgrounds and other Estes Park locations. Purchase tickets separately for individual events or in inclusive admission packages; for information call 1-970-586-6308 or 1-800-90-ESTES. Meanwhile, to get you in the mood or to satisfy your Celtic pangs, master fiddler Alasdair Fraser, en route to Estes Park, will perform at 7:30 this evening with cellist Abby Newton and Celtic harpist Kim Robertson at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Tickets are $13 in advance ($15 day of show); call 545-8371 or 652-3306.
Artwork of champions: Writers doodle--we think it helps them think. In the case of novelist, cult figure and thinker Kurt Vonnegut, the doodling has turned into a pleasant avocation: In 1993, Vonnegut began a series of silk screens, including self-portraits, still lifes and caricatures, assisted by artist Joe Petro III. The 24 resulting silkscreens, along with a pair of portfolios and a sculpture, will be exhibited for two weeks, beginning tonight, at the 1/1 Gallery, 1715 Wazee St.; Vonnegut will be in attendance at the opening reception, 6 to 9 p.m. The author returns to the gallery tomorrow from noon to 4 for a book signing sponsored by the Tattered Cover Book Store and will then move around the corner to the Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th St., to preside and read a short story off the label when Kurt's Mile High Lager, a new addition to the Wynkoop's Literary Lager series, is tapped for tasting at 6. The 1/1 show continues through September 18; call 298-9284. On a more serious note, an exhibit of selected works by New York minimalist Mary Obering makes its way into Rule Modern and Contemporary, 111 Broadway, for a month-long stay. A contemporary of trendsetters Donald Judd and Carl Andre, with artistic roots at the University of Denver, Obering forms controlled, abstract color fields from Renaissance-age materials such as burnished clay, encaustic egg tempera and gold leaf on gessoed masonite, with cool, polished results. A reception will be held tonight from 6 to 9; the show hangs through October 6. Call 777-9473.
Get back, Jackson: An inveterate favorite at Red Rocks, Jackson Browne is the pop singer/songwriter upon whom many have modeled themselves, though few have managed to search their souls--and the conscience of America--with as even or literate a hand. Browne, who never breezes through his shows, returns to the Rocks tonight for an evening of equal parts Southern California-style rock and intimate, balladic poetry. Another genre idol for mature listeners, folk chanteuse Shawn Colvin, opens the show at 7:30 p.m.; for tickets, $25, call 830-TIXS.
Sweet Victorians: Some of Denver's finest remaining Victorian structures will adopt an open-door policy today and tomorrow during A Visit to Capitol Hill: The Wyman District, this year's Historic Denver house tour. The seven private dwellings and pair of bed-and-breakfast inns featured, located in the area north of Cheesman Park on Gilpin and Race streets, are open to visitors from 10 to 4 today and noon to 4 Sunday. Historic Denver guides of the area and a commemorative poster by Denver watercolorist Barbara Froula also will be available for sale at the Castle Marne, a formidable and eclectic stone-faced tour stop at 1572 Race St. Get your poster signed by Froula from noon to 2 today or your book signed by author Diane Wilk and photographer Cindy Herrick at the same times Sunday. Purchase tickets, $12 ($8 seniors and Historic Denver members), in advance at selected King Soopers stores, the Molly Brown House Museum or by calling 296-9887; tickets are also available on tour days at 1405 E. 12th Ave., 1401 Gilpin St., 1321 Race St. or the Castle Marne.
Experimental tourists: Whoa, stuck-in-the-muds: Here are two ways to get yourselves moving in a new direction, quick. For a musical jump-start, check out the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's innovative Perforum Series, this month featuring the doctored sounds of Instrument Panel, a local quartet working in the avant-garde traditions of Cage, Stockhausen and Xenakis by utilizing "prepared" instruments and improvisational, rather than strictly notational, elements. Instrument Panel appears at 8 in the museum's upstairs performance space, 1750 13th St., Boulder; admission is $8 ($7 students, $5 BMoCA members). Call 443-2122. Also tonight at the Bug Performance and Media Center, 3654 Navajo St., multimedia trio Jafrika and poetry performance collective Open Rangers join forces, intertwining spoken word, theater, comedy, dance and music for Random Axe of Rhyme, a collaborative, spontaneous arts showcase for bright local talent. Random Axe premiers tonight at 7:30 and will continue the first Saturday of each month at the Bug; for information or tickets, $8 ($6 members), call 477-5977.