Ready for takeoff: Grunge's cranking hangers-on, Southern California's Stone Temple Pilots, may not have invented the Sturm und Drang sound they purvey (some say STP vocalist Scott Weiland sounds mysteriously like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder--on a surfboard), but like it or not, they've appropriated it as their own. And, as their album sales indicate, someone out there loves them. The Pilots fly tonight at 7:30 at McNichols Arena; for tickets, $22.50, call 830-TIXS.
Just fir you: Are those bells we hear ringing? One sure sign of the season's impending revelry is Christmas in the Rockies, this year's version of the Festival of Trees, a veritable winter wonderland of sparkling holiday trees, gorgeous wreaths, charming gingerbread houses and a convenient, seasonable selection of gift vendors, all sponsored annually by ArtReach, a nonprofit organization providing arts programs to at-risk children, adults and seniors in the metro area. The event kicks off tonight at 6--at a new location, on the Club Level at Coors Field, 21st and Blake streets--with a glitzy opening-night dinner-and-auction gala ($100). Other special events offered throughout the festival's five-day run include a Jingle Bell Jazz Night (6 to 10 p.m. tomorrow, $15), a pair of Santa's Breakfasts for kids (9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, $6-$12), a Senior Holiday Ball (2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, $6) and a Festival Day event offering free admission to ArtReach-affiliated agencies Monday (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). But it's perfectly all right to just come for the show itself--regular public viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday; admission ranges from $3 to $6 (children three and under free). For details or reservations call 433-2882, ext. 221.
Island angels: Ireland regularly turns out traditional supergroups, it seems, but Altan owns up to the title--the Emerald Isle simply has not produced a better band. Sparked by the radiant vocals of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Altan--a who's-who conglomerate of musicians--takes native strains of fiddle, accordion, whistle, guitar and bouzouki and turns them into pure magic. The group casts its spell over the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., tonight at 7:30; for tickets, $15 in advance ($16 day of show), call 830-TIXS.
Here's gum on your shoe: Detective fiction has had more than its share of bad-boy protagonists, but few have been badder than author James Crumley's ten-minute hard-boiled eggs, C.W. Sughrue and Milo Milodragovitch. Crumley's pair of sleazy sleuths join forces for the first time in his fifth mystery, Bordersnakes, a machine-gun-and-drug-laced continuation of their respective sagas that has a vengeful Milo and Sughrue pairing up on a mission to even up separate personal scores. Put that in your pot and boil it. Expect dark humor, military precision and several gallons of literary rotgut when Crumley reads tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Call 322-7727.
Satan doll: Denver poet, stand-up comic and performance artist Don Becker exacted open-eyed raves from critics and audiences last year with his provocative one-man rant, Lucifer Tonight. If you didn't see his highly personal exploration of good and evil then, The Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St., offers one last, scaled-down opportunity when Becker re-enacts the piece as a reading tonight and tomorrow at 8. Tickets to the performance, a benefit for the Bug, are $8 ($6 members); call 477-5977 for reservations.
Sensible shows: The Tattered Cover Book Stores not only offer two ways to treat your senses this weekend, but they also have something slated to treat your inner child. First, take that trip back in time this morning when kindly kiddie-show pioneer Bob Keeshan drops by the Cherry Creek Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to sign copies of his nostalgic photo history, Good Morning Captain: Fifty Wonderful Years With Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo. Don't be a Crabby Appleton--hitch up your Mr. Greenjeans overalls and line up nicely at 10; call 322-7727 for details. Then switch gears for something more sophisticated: The Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St., hosts a Colorado Symphony Presentation this afternoon at 3 (which gives you time to browse both stores and have a snack at either shop's full-service coffee bar). CSO music director Marin Alsop and composer-in-residence Jon Deak bring guest pianist Jeffrey Kahane along. Then check out the burgeoning LoDo restaurant scene and return to the downtown T.C. at 6 or 8:30 p.m. for Eye for an I Cinema, an eclectic and refreshingly non-traditional screening of Colorado film and video organized by local independent film maven Brock McDaniel. Films include anything and everything, from serious visual adventures to hilarious bouts of Claymation; admission is $5 at the door. For more information, call the Tattered Cover LoDo at 436-1070.