Thrills for the week

July 31
Out of the woods: Smooth as silk. Liquid gold. These are just two of the ways one might describe the facile voice of Kevin Mahogany, the male jazz vocalist generally named these days by those in the know as the Joe Williams or Billy Eckstine of his generation. While Mahogany doesn't mind the comparisons, don't think his talent is mired in a time warp. His beautiful, smoky, bubbling vocals work as well on James Carr's soul ballad "The Dark End of the Street" as they do on a straightahead "West Coast Blues" lifted note for note out of the improvisations of Wes Montgomery. Hear Mahogany at 7:15 tonight among the flowers of the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St.; for tickets, $19 ($16 DBG members), call 777-3836.

You can go Holmes again: Students of Sherlockian lore have never been able to agree on whether or not the Baker Street sleuth survived his spat with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. So some might be surprised to find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary character resurrected in Minnesota three years later, hunting down a wily North Woods arsonist. Wherever you stand in the fray, it's always nice to have a new Holmes adventure to crack open. That's reason enough to visit Boulder's Rue Morgue Mystery Bookshop tonight at 7:30 when St. Paul architecture journalist Larry Millett shows up to sign copies of his brand-new Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, a painstakingly researched and footnoted Holmes sequel that mixes fact, fiction and history to a properly suspenseful end. The Rue Morgue is located at 946 Pearl St.; call 443-8346.

August 1
She's a grand old state: Raise your hand if you're a native. Okay, then, raise your hand if you've been in the state longer than ten years. That's better. Now, don't neglect to show your appreciation. Celebrate Colorado Day, which marks the state's 121st anniversary, today from 10 to 1 right at ground zero--Ninth Street Park at Auraria, near Denver's birthplace at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River. Times have changed and so has the landscape, but festivities taking place there will do their darnedest to turn back the clock: A period infantry encampment and fashion show, vintage ballplayers, film clips depicting early Denver and tours led by local history maven Tom Noel will all help lend old-time ambience to the modern-day event. Throw in some speechifying by local dignitaries and you've got a Colorado Day to remember. For information call 866-5299.

Summer camp: CORE New Art Space promises to be encrusted in so many rhinestones this weekend, you'll have to wear sunglasses just to walk into the place. The cooperative gallery will turn itself into Graceland West with the opening of The King: a show commemorating the 20th anniversary of a major pop cultural icon who is so powerful even in death that we dare not use his name, likeness or image in promoting this show (Well...we're not allowed to), a self-explanatory show and accompanying mail-art extravaganza that will put the swivel back into your hips. The exhibition--opening tonight with a 7-to-midnight reception-cum-revival featuring a blessing by the Reverend Mort Farndu of the First Presleyterian Church, performances by entertainer Shelvis, public balloting for the Mail to the King best-of-show award and a you-know-who look-alike costume contest--hangs through August 17. Donations of non-perishable food items for the Rocky Mountain Food Bank will be accepted during tonight's opening (as well as at a rockin' impersonator contest tomorrow from 2 to 6); for details call 571-4831.

As if the return of Elvis weren't already the ultimate American sick joke, you might finish out the evening by giving in to your basest instincts. At Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, opening at midnight at the Bluebird Theater, you won't have to worry about offending anyone, because you'll be in good (make that bad) company. The outwardly disgusting cartoon fest--perhaps best known as the cabbage plant under which Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-head were first found--features such unforgettable animated characters as The Happy Moose (actual Raging Bull Jake LaMotta provides the voice), Tie Dye Dick and Big, Dumb, Fat, Stupid Baby and screens this weekend and next at the Bluebird, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. A totally tasteless party, which includes festival mascot Scotty the Shredding Wonder Dog, accompanies the on-screen debaucheries; for information or tickets, $7, call 322-2308. Needless to say, you must be eighteen or older to attend.

Pump it up: Ours is a society of thrill-seekers, it seems--or, on the flip side, a culture of caffeine burnouts. But, at risk of sounding too hippy-dippy holistic, there are effective ways to bypass Starbucks and still achieve the ever-elusive natural high. Nothing gets the adrenaline going better than speedy music, and this weekend, there's plenty of it to go around.

A mandolin wind hits the town of Lyons this afternoon at 3 when RockyGrass (otherwise known as the Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival) gets under way, once again gathering together some of the biggest names in the hoedown business for three days of wind-blown, high-lonesome quick-pickin' fun. Headliners during the weekend include the Del McCoury Band, Richard Greene, Tim O'Brien, banjo-plucking old-timer Ralph Stanley and David Grisman; superpickers coming together to jam each night through Sunday include Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Vassar Clements and Peter Rowan. That's an earful. Daily admission is $25 to $30, or buy a three-day pass for $65. Call 624-2422.

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