Vaseline machine guns: No guitarist is quicker on the draw than acoustic-music grand poobah Leo Kottke, whose chugging-locomotive riffs on six- and twelve-string instruments have delighted fans for nearly thirty years. How the agile-fingered, self-taught Kottke manages to remain so laconic on stage must be a trade secret, but it's what makes his concert appearances consummate; his reserved humor, storytelling skills and languid baritone voice (self-described as resembling "geese farts on a muggy day") fit the music like a well-worn glove. Kottke appears by himself at 8 tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; for tickets, $15, call 786-7030.
Meanwhile, local banjo whiz Pete Wernick holds court at the Left Hand Grange, 2nd and Franklin in Niwot, when he appears with a slew of his better students as part of the folksy Home on the Grange concert series tonight at 8. The plucky tenderfoots--intermediate and advanced pupils at a Wernick clinic in Boulder this week--hope to impress in solo, duet and bluegrass ensemble groupings, but expect them to humbly stand aside when the master and his musician wife, Joan, take the stage. Admission to the laid-back recital is $2; call 666-0442.
Wine for the money: Supporting the arts just got a whole lot easier--as things usually do over a bottle of wine--with the Golden Triangle Arts District Wine Tasting, a sparkling fundraiser for the burgeoning gallery zone sprouting up in the vicinity of the Denver Art Museum. A variety of friendly Colorado-made wines from Carlson Vineyards in Palisade will be featured tonight from 6 to 9 at the district's own Abend Gallery, 899 Broadway. Twenty smackers gets you sips of everything from the Riesling to the merlot (including the Western Slope winery's mysterious Mythical Dinosaur Series), as well as tidbits from a new Colorado Historical Society cookbook; in addition, vineyard owners Parker and Mary Carlson will be on hand to answer questions about the wines. Tickets can be purchased at participating galleries: Abend, Camera Obscura, Colorado Vintage Posters, Denver Buffalo Company, Native American Trading Company, Nighthawk Gallery, David Uhl Gallery and the Byers-Evans House Museum; for details call Abend, 572-3081.
A bunch of bull: This time of year, it's the only hoofbeat in town. When the National Western Stock Show opens today for its 92nd year, what's now considered a hip town will gladly return to its roots as a hick town, built upon the dusty footprints of a million cattle and cowboys passing through over the years. Named Rodeo of the Year by the industry-revered (and bone-weary) Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the National Western is an all-encompassing gathering featuring pro bull-riding, rootin'-tootin' Wild West Shows in the Buffalo Bill vein, a variety of horse shows, an unrivaled livestock menagerie, a prestigious Western-art exhibition and more, all stretched through its two-week-plus run at the National Western Complex, I-70 and Brighton Blvd.
The action opens tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow at 3 with Mexican rodeo performances by silver-laden, high-stepping charro Jerry Diaz and other Hispanic entertainers in the Denver Coliseum. Bull-riding shows pull in on January 12 and 13, and assorted horse shows prance into the Coliseum beginning January 17, while the first of 23 PRCA rodeos--spotlighting everything from daredevil Roman rider Staci Anderson to kid-friendly Mutton Bustin' championships--commences on January 14. Stock-show grounds admission is $5 to $7 ($1 to $2 for children), and rodeo and special-events tickets range from $8 to $25; events continue through January 25. Call 830-TIXS.
Rave on: Ring in the stock-show season with Runaway Express, a resourceful combo at home with country, bluegrass, folk and calypso, but one that also claims to hold the title for playing the most Buddy Holly tunes in one performance. Put them to the test tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl; folk threesome Dakota Blonde opens the Swallow Hill Music Association-produced show. Tickets are $12 ($10 members); for details call 777-1003.
All aboard: Here's a chance to carve your own niche: 'Boarder culture is a main attraction this weekend at Winter Park Resort, where a number of snowboard events coincide today and tomorrow. For spectating, nothing beats the Bud Light American Snowboard Tour, which brings the best of the best together on Winter Park slopes to compete for spots on the fledgling U.S. Olympic Snowboard Team. BLAST will feature breathtaking alpine and freestyle competitions over the weekend; call the competition center at 1-970-726-1590 for more information.
For the rest of us, there's the Mountain Dew Snowboard Festival, a public event combining equipment demos galore and free snowboarding lessons for anyone willing, also scheduled today and tomorrow at Winter Park. It's a great opportunity to take advantage of the resort's new half-pipe and terrain parks and find out what's hot for riding in them. For the full scoop on Winter Park snowboard events, call the number listed above; for more info on ongoing 'boarding programs, call the Rider Improvement Center, 1-970-726-1551.