Stage fright: David Mamet's American Buffalo--a classic of the contemporary theater pantheon in which characters Teach, Don and Bob, a hard-bitten trio of small-time thugs, plan to pilfer an elusive coin collection--has gotten CityStage Ensemble's fall season off to a powerful start. The play, which delves into the underlying primitivism of modern-day society, opened last weekend and can be seen at the Theatre at Jack's, 1553 Platte St., at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, through October 6. Tickets are $10 to $12; for reservations call 433-8082. (A film version, starring Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz, also is opening in town. See Bill Gallo's movie review on page 41 and M.S. Mason's theater review on page 47.)
Be true to your school: Whether you're the type who likes to spiff up and strut your stuff on a dance floor or a concert potato who prefers to appreciate musicians from a seated position, the Swallow Hill Music Association has a way to tempt you tonight. Western swing dancing to Liz Masterson & Sean Blackburn and the Cactus Crooners, one of the area's best fiddle-jazz aggregates, is the ticket at Swallow Hill's Cowboy Cotillion, a dance party held at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. For $12 ($10 members), you're entitled to dance lessons--where you can freshen up on your Texas two-step, jitterbug, waltz and schottische--at 7, followed by the dance, beginning at 8; call 1-800-444-SEAT. Also tonight, at the comfy Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St., contemporary songstress Cosy Sheridan, winner of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's Troubadour Award and the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk Contest, tunes up for a folk-flavored set beginning at 8. Sheridan is a bona fide face to watch on the acoustic-music beat, but opener Karen Capaldi, hailing from Boulder, is no slouch, either. Tickets are $10 ($8 members); call 777-1003.
Sculpt and bones: The fall gallery season takes a couple of intriguing, reflective turns in the road tonight at a pair of opening receptions for vastly differing exhibits. Artyard, the praiseworthy gallery space and sculpture garden at 1251 S. Pearl St., features Reunion, a show of works by sculptors Roger Kotoske, Wilbert Verhelst and Robert Mangold. The three collaborated on the Burns Park Symposium, a 1968 community sculpture-raising effort in the park at Alameda Ave. and Colorado Blvd.; they'll show more recent works at Artyard, beginning tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 and continuing through October 31. Call 777-3219. Cooperative gallery Zip 37, located at 3644 Navajo St., takes an alternate tack when member and painstaking draftsman Bill Amundson explores middle-age angst with a disturbing, near-gothic series of new drawings called Self Portraits of Men. Amundson's show opens tonight from 7 to 11; the spooky portraits will hang through September 29. Call 477-4525.
Indian strummer: Ardent fans of guitarist Ry Cooder may also be familiar with the exotic sounds of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, an East Indian musician who collaborated with bluesman Cooder a few years ago on Meeting by the River, a stunning album of cross-cultural instrumental tracks. Bhatt, who bridges gaps by playing traditional Indian classical music on a modified Western acoustic guitar, performs with tabla artist Sukhvinder Singh tonight at 7:30 in Foote Music Hall at the Houston Fine Arts Center, Montview and Quebec. Admission to the concert, a fundraiser for an organization assisting in the education of underprivileged children in India, is $15; call 252-9733 or 699-7481.
Foamy weather: Hoist your mugs, fraus and frauleins--pull on your lederhosen and put a feather in your cap. Larimer Square's Oktoberfest, though it takes place in September to take full advantage of Denver's fine fall weather, is the real deal, closely patterned after Munich's definitive autumn celebration of brewskis, polkas and oompah bands. This year's event, spread over two weekends, will feature everything from the World's Shortest Parade (11:30 a.m. tomorrow) to an accordion concert performed by more than 100 squeeze-boxers of all ages (3:45 p.m. September 21), as well as the more traditional biergartens, sausage vendors and German entertainment. An expanded Kinderplatz children's area, authentic temporary facades replicating a German village and the ceremonial renaming of Larimer Street to Theresienwiese (or Theresia's Meadow) round out festivities, which begin today with a street unveiling at 11:30 a.m. and continue from noon to 11 Friday, 11 to 11 Saturday and noon to 8 Sunday, through September 22. A portion of Oktoberfest profits will benefit Historic Denver Inc.; for information call 607-1276.