Magic Jeni: Once in a while, a comic comes along who does it all: He's quick on his feet, a master of observation, and he doesn't just tell a story--he gets inside it and understands what makes it tick. Richard Jeni is just such a versatile funny guy, whose talent provided the gateway from the arena of live performance to the broader venues of television and film. In the last category, he found himself cast as Jim Carrey's sidekick in The Mask, a role he likened to "an Italian Barney Rubble." Well, yabba dabba doo for you--Jeni will hone his pointed little wit on stage here in town at Larimer Square's Comedy Works, 1226 15th St., where he appears for several shows--some of them nonsmoking affairs--today through Saturday. Tickets range from $13 to $20 and must be reserved in advance; call 595-3637 for information.
Man on bass: When the fabled Five Points club the Casino Cabaret, at 2633 Welton St., reopens its doors again tonight after fresh renovations, it'll take a big pair of shoes to step into the balconied venue's bright new limelight. Bassist Stanley Clarke is a big man. And when he cozies up to his big bass fiddle, Clarke makes a big, beautiful sound that leaves no doubt in his audiences' minds that he absolutely loves to play. One of contemporary jazz fusion's greats, the supple bassist is, to put it simply, a musician's musician, whose breathtaking instrumental dexterity is but a tool for creative experimentation. In recent years Clarke has turned to scoring and orchestration projects, but put him on stage and he'll always charm his fans. He performs tonight at 7:30 for the Casino Cabaret's grand opening; for tickets, $25, call 832-3770.
The road not taken: Bright lights, big city. Denver's trying awfully hard to be urbane. But on the flip side of the city's blooming brewpubs and martini bars are its alternative galleries and performance venues, which have actually been around a long time, serving an arts community that never stops struggling for recognition. So how about giving them a hand by sparing them one Friday night out of your life?
Cooperative gallery openings tend to be low-rent, trendy, atmospheric and later than the status quo, but the art you'll see when you attend one is often surprising, funny and well-done. Tonight at CORE New Art Space, 1412 Wazee St. (571-4831), a two-man show juxtaposes the bold abstract of Steve Cramm with Greg Cannon's whimsical culture-clash statements (geishas on skateboards and the like), while Spark Gallery, 1535 Platte St. (455-4435), features a two-woman exhibition by local art stalwarts Sally Elliott and Annalee Schorr. In addition, Pirate: A Contemporary Art Oasis, 3659 Navajo St. (458-6058), showcases new works by Denver defector Greg Esser, who describes his show as "a group show of my multiple personalities" and, in Pirate's Alley, a small exhibit by Mark Lunning. All three shows open tonight with receptions from 7 to 10 (live acoustic music will be provided by Jux County at Pirate) and continue through March 23.
What else? Across the street from Pirate, at 3654 Navajo St., the Bug Performance and Media Art Center presents a multimedia theater work, Wars and Whores, which throws together life-sized puppets and musical sound effects for a performance based on playwright Jean Genet's The Maids. See Wars and Whores tonight or tomorrow at 8; for information or tickets, $6 ($4 members), call 455-5977.
Skip the formalities: There is no rule that says you have to be stodgy to play the classics. Just ask classical guitarist Robert Bluestone, who has no use for playing from a pedestal--he's the kind of virtuoso you'd sooner meet over a beer in your own backyard. But don't let his casual, yarn-laden stage patter fool you. When Bluestone sits down to play, stunning technique and a loving knowledge of his instrument take over. Bluestone brings his relaxed repertoire to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., today at 10 a.m. for a special children's show and again tomorrow at 7:30 for a more adult version; tickets are $4 for the matinee or $15 for the evening performance. To reserve seats call 431-3939.
Celts in action: What the heck is a hooley? (If you're Irish, you can be excused from the room until this is over.) Well, dear readers, it's really just a swell party, with lots of frisky music and dancing to keep you and the kids in line. You'll find all of that, along with lessons to get your dance steps straight, good eats, drink and unnamed surprises at the Mile High Hooley, an all-day celebration taking place today from noon to 8:30 p.m. at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. Irish recording artists Reeltime--with violinist Mairin Fahy, also a fiddlin' fool for the blockbuster musical Riverdance--head up the musical bill, but there'll be plenty of Celtic music on several stages throughout the day. Admission is $10 ($15 at the door) or $5 for children twelve and under; call 830-TIXS to order tickets in advance.