Thrills for the week

Thursday
August 7
Tale-telling hearts: Call it escapism, but everyone loves a story. And that simple truth is what fuels the annual Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival, a weekend retreat at Palmer Lake where you and your family can get deliciously lost as much as you like, at least for as long as it lasts. From start (Ghost Tales Under the Stars, 7:30 tonight at the Palmer Lake Village Green) to finish (a storytelling finale on Saturday night), the festival packs workshops, performances, story-swapping and even a Liar's Contest celebrating the tall tale into three evenings and two full days, making it one of the region's most imaginative and concentrated diversions of the summer. Festival events continue from 9 in the morning till 10 at night Friday and Saturday at Palmer Lake's town hall and elementary school; most, with the exception of a family concert at 1:30 Saturday, are recommended for children ages seven and up. Complete festival packages are $60 (discounted fees offered for children, seniors and families), and daily passes or tickets to individual events are also available, but space is limited; call 660-5849 or 1-800-484-6963, ext. 8253.

Jam packed: Bela Fleck plays banjo and Mike Marshall plays mandolin, guitar and fiddle, which means they're bluegrass players, right? And Edgar Meyer is a classically trained bassist, so he must play classical music, right? Wrong: All three musicians are unrepentant experimenters, dabbling like crazy in bluegrass, classical, jazz and other possible acoustic-music idioms. Together they're Bela Fleck, Mike Marshall and Edgar Meyer, an astonishingly chameleonic trio that basically does this in its spare time, when each member is unoccupied by individual projects. The threesome gets together for a sophisticated jam session tonight at 8 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; for tickets, ranging from $18 to $23, call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS.

One on one: Two men of the stage hog different spotlights tonight, but it's unlikely anyone will mind:

On the charming outdoor stage of the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., British Shakespearean actor Julian Glover, who's been seen on film in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Empire Strikes Back, will brighten two evenings with his one-man interpretation of Beowulf, a swashbuckling affair the whole family will love. Catch Glover's performance at 7:15 today and tomorrow; call 777-3836 to reserve tickets, $18 ($15 qualifying DBG members).

Thematically closer to home for most Americans, Father, Son and Holy Coach, a one-man bit starring comic actor/playwright John Posey, explores family interactions, sports-hero worship and other apple-pie national issues. Posey's heartwarming, semi-autobiographical performance plays Thursday through Sunday at the Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, through September 7; for showtimes and tickets, $19, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

Friday
August 8
Swing your partner: The young and cosmopolitan will tell you that swing dancing, sort of a cocktails-and-gowns reworking of the stalwart lindy hop, is the latest thing. So get your grandpa's zoot suit out of mothballs, dudes--it's time to kill the millennium in high style. The newly opened swing club 9th Avenue West, located in the old Cafe Communique space, at 99 W. 9th Ave., cries out for the cool--so what are you waiting for? Tonight and tomorrow, the trendy bistro not only serves up tapas and martinis, but also brings you Austin swingers 8 1/2 Souvenirs, a talented combo that mixes gypsy hot jazz, cabaret-style vocals and a good dollop of spiritual neon lighting; for information and reservations call 572-8006.

Our town: Yee-haw! No community celebration this side of the National Western Stock Show demonstrates this much old-fashioned cowtown hospitality. When Littleton swings open its gates tonight for Western Welcome Week, you'll yodel for joy. Events kick off tonight at 7:30 in Sterne Park, 5900 S. Spotswood St., when the Arapahoe Philharmonic treats the town to a pops concert, followed by a pops concert of a different color--fireworks--at 9. But that's just beginning: The Circo Garcia Circus of Mexico (a big-top entertainment that's all in the family--the Garcia family, that is) comes to the Arapahoe Community College campus for several performances tomorrow and Sunday; a Family FunFest full of flapjacks, fine art and Frisbee dogs also takes place at ACC Sunday. Miniature golf and volleyball tournaments, a LiDo (that's artspeak for downtown Littleton) artwalk, a volksmarch (or family walk) and other events are planned for the coming week. The entire celebration wraps up on August 16 at a Festival Day party of parades, live entertainment, arts and crafts, dancing, food and fun centered around Bega Park, 2300 W. Main St. Circus tickets range from $3 to $7 (five-ticket blocks are available in advance for $20), while most other events are free; for more information call the WWW hotline, at 794-2279, or visit www.littleton.org on the Web.

Saturday
August 9
Old and on the way: Separated by only a few blocks, the Antique Row Festival, along South Broadway from Mississippi to Mexico avenues, and the Old South Pearl Street Fair, on the 1400 and 1500 blocks of South Pearl, co-exist happily under a comfortable similarity of spirit: Both take place over the weekend in the red-brick-and-Victorian heart of South Denver, where the pace of life is a little slower, a little greener and a little more neighborly, and both focus on hidden treasures waiting to be found. The Antique Row Festival, today from 10 to 5:30 and tomorrow from 10:30 to 5, concentrates on antique and collectible shops lining the Broadway stretch, while the South Pearl fete, which runs from 10 to 7 today and 10 to 6 tomorrow, shines a light on the area's little shops and fabulous restaurants; both events are free and include live music, art and entertainment.

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