Thrills for the week

September 19
A good sign: Novelist Larry Brown--one of our finest fiction writers, if not the most well-known--tells powerful, straightforward stories wrung artfully from the pith and bedrock of human experience. His sixth novel, Father & Son, a good-versus-evil parable set in small-town Mississippi, is now being touted as his best and should provide for stimulating reading tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Brown appears and signs copies of the book at 7:30; for details call 322-7727.

September 20
Tune up: Two of the region's most accomplished classical-music ensembles kick off their respective seasons tonight, each with a touch of fire and flare. Tonight at CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium, the Boulder Philharmonic opens with international star Pepe Romero, a virtuoso Spanish classical guitarist with one impassioned foot planted firmly in sultry flamenco traditions, as guest soloist. Romero, who comes from a family of guitarists, will exhibit his Iberian flash on "Concierto de Malaga," a work composed by his talented father, Celedonio Romero; for tickets, $9 to $31, call 449-1343. Opening its season tonight with a sparkly black-tie gala (cocktails, auction and dinner beginning at 5:30; post-concert dessert and dancing at 10:30), the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Marin Alsop, steps back in time for Radio Rhapsody, a fun re-creation of a 1930s radio broadcast complete with big-band music and commercial jingles. Scheduled at 8:30 tonight, 7:30 tomorrow and 2:30 Sunday at Boettcher Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, the nostalgic program features the dance music of Denver big-band leader Paul Whiteman. For concert-only tickets, ranging from $5 to $38, call 986-8742 or 830-TIXS; or call 595-4915 for concert-inclusive tickets for tonight's gala, $120 to $250.

Put it on: The only problem with shopping at this year's Wearable Art Extravaganza III, opening tonight at the Art of Craft, 1736 Wazee St., is one of practicality: The one-of-a-kind apparel displayed is almost too pretty to wear, as deserving of space in your curio case or fine-art collection as it is worthy of covering your back. But what the hell! Reach out and touch the stuff of dreams--hand-painted silks, finely woven shawls, chic chapeaus, fanciful recycled textiles and gorgeous accessories, including scarves, ties and leather handbags--at an opening reception tonight from 6 to 9, or come back and check out the inventory on the sly, through November 3. After all, you only live once, so why not wear it well? For information call 292-5564.

Hot time in the old town: If the Colorado State Fair's cows, pigs, bucking broncs and country music weren't enough to entice you down south on I-25 this summer, Pueblo's Chile y Frijole Festival might just do the trick. Commencing tonight with a street dance beginning at 7, the fest continues through the weekend, featuring an authentic 1840s El Pueblo Trading Post, nonstop entertainment, chile cooking and jalapeno-eating contests, more dancing and a harvest-season farmer's market, all at 1st and Grand streets, smack in the middle of downtown Pueblo. Admission is free (Fandango street-dance tickets on Friday and Saturday nights, $5); for additional information call 1-800-233-3446.

September 21
Arts and crafts: Though it often seems like a different continent, Boulder is less than an hour's drive from Denver; it's a fun and different place to go in a short period of time. So take a vacation and make a cultural weekend of it. Start out by treating your eyes to Open Studios '96, a monster self-guided tour of artist studios throughout the area (including some stunning mountain sites). A spiral-bound directory/catalogue--available for $10 at the Tattered Cover in Denver, the Ideal Market in Boulder or the Boulder Library Gift Shop--leads you on the excursion, which includes a diverse sampling of 105 sculptors, woodworkers, glassblowers, weavers, jewelers, photographers and other fine artists. In addition, one work by each artist will be on display at the Boulder Public Library, 1000 Canyon Blvd., through September 29. Open Studios begins today from 11 to 5 and continues tomorrow and next weekend; call 444-1862. Later, you'll be all ears at the Boulder Blues Festival, a two-day blues-a-thon serving up a good helping of national and local acts. The festival begins tonight with 7:30 and 11 p.m. shows at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, featuring genre-tripper Taj Mahal, whose concerts double as tuneful lectures in American ethnomusicology, and local artist Mary Flower. Flower also kicks off tomorrow's free Blues Blast at 11 a.m. in Boulder's Central Park. After her set, an ongoing sampling of Colorado blues and gospel musicians continues through 6 p.m.; the music wraps up tomorrow night at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., with a disparate pair of stylish guitarists--urban electric specialist Duke Robillard and country blues traditionalist Keb' Mo'. Call 830-TIXS for evening concert tickets, $17.85 for Saturday or $15.75 for Sunday; a special $29 two-night ticket can also be purchased by calling 637-8934, ext. 4.

Art for art's sake: If representational art is your cup of tea, some of the nation's best examples--by over seventy painters and sculptors from across the country--go on display at the Artists of America invitational exhibition and sale, opening with a patron party tonight at 6:30 at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway. The black-tie-optional gala, which offers collectors a first opportunity to buy exhibition works, costs $135; the show opens to the public tomorrow and continues at the museum through October 27. Also debuting this weekend is the Denver Art Museum's brand-new Adventures in Art education center, offering state-of-the art education facilities for children and adults. A flurry of activities are scheduled today and tomorrow in conjunction with the opening, including drop-in hands-on projects for families, live music, and the first viewing of Have You Ever Seen a Rainbow at Night?, a new museum exhibition of artworks by Navajo children. Admission to the museum, located at 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy., is free all weekend; call 640-4433.

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