Thrills for the week

February 6
World party: Musicians from the four corners of Asia are holding a mini harmonic convergence in the area tonight, offering audiences sound bites crossing the gamut from exotic and otherworldly to heart-poundingly physical to aesthetically classic and staid. There's nothing like freedom of choice.

To begin with, who ever thought that a rough and ready, wild bunch of range rovers could make some of the most soulful ambient music on earth? The remarkable ensemble Huun-Huur-Tu, Throat Singers of Tuva, horsemen who hail from the far-flung border region between Siberia and Outer Mongolia, use difficult harmonic singing techniques similar to those employed by Tibetan monks to mimic natural sounds including birdsong, jingling stirrups and waterfalls. For those tired of last month's stock-show twangers, the group is a certain antidote: So what if these 'pokes herd sheep and yaks instead of longhorn steers? Theirs is the most unusual version of cowboy music you'll ever hear. Huun-Huur-Tu performs tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; to reserve tickets, $14.70 in advance ($16.80 day of show), call 786-7030 or 830-TIXS.

Pound for pound, the best deal in town for percussion lovers tonight is Kodo, an astonishing Japanese troupe of twenty taiko drummers who pummel a variety of instruments ranging in size from hand-held clackers to a 900-pound o-daiko drum so huge it requires two strong, sinewy men to play it properly. If that doesn't rattle your shoes, nothing will. Kodo flexes its mallets at 7:30 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. For tickets, $19 to $30, call 830-TIXS.

February 7
Three from the heart: Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. That's the sound of your sweetie's heart beating, reminding you that Valentine's Day is only a week away. And maybe it's time for a twist on the old flowers, chocolates and ruffly, peekaboo undergarments. So how do you get goopy without getting overly gooey? Here's a sampling of gallery shows designed with someone special in mind: In Boulder, the MacLaren Markowitz Gallery, 1011 Pearl St., holds its seventh annual Valentine-minded Jewelry Extravaganza, featuring skillfully crafted metal work by five artists. Receptions take place tonight from 6 to 9 and tomorrow from 1 to 4; the show remains on display through the end of February. Call 449-6807.

Artful love objects are also offered this month at Cherry Creek North's pair of elegant Pismo contemporary-art-furniture-and-glass galleries. Both locations--one-of-a-kind furnishings abound at 2727 E. 3rd Ave., while glass items ranging from transparent and delicate to enormous, flashy and flamboyant can be found at 235 Fillmore St.--feature Treasures From the Heart through February 27. Discerning shoppers will find everything from sweet paper lamps to translucent perfume bottles; call 333-7724 or 333-2879 for information.

Or maybe your baby is a serious art collector hoping for something more enduring than an expensive chatchke. On the alternative side, Zip 37 Gallery, at 3644 Navajo St., spotlights the charming, emblematic works of local artist Sandy Toland with Big & Red, a one-woman show of new paintings. An opening reception kicks things off tonight from 7 to 10; Toland's show hangs through February 23. Call 477-4525.

Smooth operetta: Only in the farcical world of Gilbert and Sullivan do operatic characters get away with having names like Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, Poo-Bah and Pish-Tush. (That's Mr. Pish-Tush to you, thank you! These are people, not Pekingese pooches.) Throw in tongue-twisting lyrics and an occasional burlesque-style kick in the pants, and you've got The Mikado, one of the Victorian Age's favorite light operas. Joined by voices from the Central City Opera and the Colorado Symphony Chorus, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra provides its own take on the silly plot tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:30 in Boettcher Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Admission ranges from $5 to $38; call 830-TIXS.

February 8
Lone Star date: Chances are you've never heard of Tom Russell, though the songs he writes have been put to good use by such stars as Johnny Cash, Nanci Griffith, Suzy Boguss, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely--to name a few of the hard-bitten country crooners and roadhouse rockers who've chosen to add his tunes to their acts. But the brusque Texas bard and Hightone recording artist displays a grizzled charm that's sure to popularize him with the same crowd listening to any of the above, as well as fans of pal and Hightone label-mate Dave Alvin, the former rockabilly Blaster from Downey, Calfornia, who's written a few good songs of his own. Hear Russell tonight at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St.; popular Western swing picker Sean Blackburn opens the show at 8. For tickets, $12 ($10 Swallow Hill members), call 777-1003.

Dashing through the snow: You may think you're a hiker, but until you've done it in the snow, you just haven't experienced life to the fullest. And in truth, snowshoers don't exactly dash. New ones might even slog and groan. But it's all in fun, and it's smashing good exercise, aerobically challenging and guaranteed to put color in your cheeks. The pain, it seems, comes later. At any rate, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance wants you to try the sport on for size by providing free use of equipment, lessons and guided hikes over the drifts near Grand Lake as part of its Winter Trails Day, taking place today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, located seventeen miles out of Grand Lake on Hwy. 34. There's nothing better than a tramp in the woods to build up your spirits, and this one is free; for additional information call 838-3760.

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