Thrills for the week

November 10
Vega recollections: A little less strident and a bit more sensual than you may remember her, Suzanne Vega continues to refine her songwriting, as evidenced by the tunes on her latest album, Nine Objects of Desire. Guided by husband and studio knob-twiddler of the moment Mitchell Froom, who produced her last two discs and plays in her band, Vega seems to be heading in the direction of what Entertainment Weekly called "industrial folk" and Rolling Stone proclaimed "beyond borders." Now, there's a modern piece of work. Vega's No Cheap Thrill Tour (with a band that also includes drummer Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello and the Attractions fame) stops over tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $18.50, call 830-TIXS.

Take your picks: We're happy to report that E-Town, Boulder's own ecologically sound public-radio program, is alive and well and still dishing up sweet combinations of exceptional musicians along with its socially conscientious eco-babble at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. You can sit in tonight when eccentric guitar whiz Leo Kottke--also a very funny man--and peerless bluegrass traditionalist Del McCoury drop by around 7 for an audiotaping session. Kottke's 25-plus solid years of exemplary six- and twelve-string picking precede him gloriously, while McCoury carries on in Bill Monroe's footsteps with a classic backwoods gusto, backed by a sparkling string band. Tickets are $9 in advance ($11 day of show); call 786-7030.

November 11
Just another band from East L.A.? An understatement, at the very least. Los Angelenos Los Lobos have taken their blend of roots music and unsurpassed musicianship far beyond the confines of their old neighborhood, instead creating something uniquely American and, therefore, in a state of constant evolution. You can't go wrong buying a ticket to see this band--they always rock their hearts out. Los Lobos perform tonight at 8 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax; for tickets, $18.50, call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.

Leader of the pack: Experimental film, like any avant-garde art form worth its salt, has its fair share of groundbreaking gurus. CU-Boulder's film guru happens to be Stan Brakhage, renowned in his field and around the world. His most recent work, involving painting directly onto film, will be featured tonight at 8--as will Brakhage himself, who appears in person at the screening--in room N141 of the Sibel-Wolle Fine Arts Building, CU-Boulder campus, as part of the school's ongoing First Person Cinema series. Admission is $2; call 492-1531 for information.

November 12
Life lessons: If the name of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa brings to mind only his stunning portfolio of samurai war epics, that's a good start. But you still don't know what you're missing. The master director's social drama Ikiru, starring Kurosawa stable stalwart Takashi Shimura (he played head honcho of the Seven Samurai), is a human tale set in more modern times and cleanly devoid of detailed period costumes, sweeping pageantry and rolling heads. Instead, Shimura--as a simple, unexceptional man who is dying of cancer--explores the meaning of life. Dark-hearted yet poignant, Ikiru stands out as a true classic, making it a wonderful addition to the Denver Art Museum's fall series of modern Japanese films. It screens tonight at 7:30 at the Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St. In addition, a choice of soup, yaki soba noodle salad, grilled Teriyaki tofu or chicken and pickled daikon, provided by the City Spirit Cafe, will be available beginning at 6:30 p.m. Film admission prices are $3 to $5; call 640-2428 for information or 623-2349 for advance tickets.

Butler did it: A Pulitzer Prize is already under this guy's belt--so what more dazzling work of fiction can author Robert Olen Butler now pull out of his hat? The answer to that question might be found in Butler's new, well-crafted short-story collection, Tabloid Dreams, from which he'll read tonight at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Butler offers autographs and National Enquirer-style insights at 7:30 p.m.; for more information call 322-7727.

November 13
21st-century schizoid men: Songwriter and guitarist M. Doughty of Soul Coughing sees the band "as this sort of a V.U. meter, with heartbreak on the left and nonsense on the right." Can't you just picture it? "The needle twitches constantly from side to side," adds Doughty. You will, too, when you hear the poppy deluge of sampled sounds, keyboard-generated "guitar" solos, slo-mo voices and a lot of other noises you weren't expecting to hear--all tied together by commanding drumbeats and the direct tones of Sebastien Steinberg's upright bass--making up the unique, trippy melange that Soul Coughing calls music. Hear it tonight at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, where Geggy Tah opens at 9; for tickets, $8.40, call 447-0095 or 1-800-444-

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