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.
And it may be too late to pursue this popular item in time for the 'boarding parties, but if you plan to make a weekend of it, it can't hurt to check the availability of tickets for the time-honored Winter Park Ski Train, a blast and a half on wheels that's been a winter tradition for almost sixty years. Rates range from $20 to $60 for the two-hour trip, which is offered every Saturday and Sunday through April; additional Friday runs will be added in February. Call 296-4754.
Exiles on main street: In tribute to artists in every discipline who either chose to leave or were forced to leave Germany in the early days of Nazi rule, the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center has compiled an ambitious series scheduled to take place in the JCC's Mizel Family Cultural Arts Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., over the next few months. The Beautiful and the Banned: Art, Music, Film and Theater Forbidden by the Third Reich gets off the ground tonight at 8, when the Colorado Chamber Players salute Hollywood composers Miklos Rosza, a writer of music in the vein of Bartok and Kodaly, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, who drew on the forceful Teutonic influences of Strauss and Mahler. Admission to the concert, which includes film clips screened during the performance, is $10 ($8 for students and seniors); call 321-8297.
12Spread the word: Poetry has a bad reputation for being boring, but according to local bard Tony Moffeit, the much-dissed literary genre is actually more ba-a-ad than it is bad. He'll read works from his in-your-face book of verse, Poetry Is Dangerous: The Poet Is an Outlaw, tonight at 7:30 as part of the Tattered Cover LoDo's Second Monday Poetry Series; also performing are guitarist/poet Guillermo Lazo and dancer/poet Roseanna Frechette. The T.C. LoDo is located at 1628 16th St.; call 436-1070 for additional information.
That's country: Let the twanging, hollering and gettin' down commence. No cowpoke worth his Tony Lamas will want to miss the Crown Royal Untamed & True Tour, scheduled for two nights at the spacious Grizzly Rose dance emporium, located at 5450 N. Valley Highway, a small piece down the road from the National Western. A triple-barreled bill of honey-throated headliner Mark Chesnutt, David Lee Murphy and Gary Allan rocks the hall tonight and tomorrow night beginning at 8; for tickets, $10, or information call 295-1941 or 830-TIXS.
Walkin' in the brine: It's not three hours long and it's not meant to be taken seriously. This Titanic, opening tonight at 7:30 at the Theatre on Broadway, 13 S. Broadway, is a wicked and camped-up skew on the overdone shipwreck theme that focuses on a dysfunctional family that's already taking a plunge, even before the big boat begins to sink. See what goes down: The comedy continues at 7:30 Thursdays and 10:30 Friday and Saturday nights. Admission is $13; call 860-9360 for reservations.
A hip-hop and a step: Portland is a forgotten town, stuck as it is in the Northwest rain belt between the powerhouse metropoli of San Francisco and Seattle. But there appears to be more spawning there than just the salmon: Hip-hop rules in Portland, thanks in no small part to Five Fingers of Funk, a large, horn-driven party band led by feverish, out-of-the-gangsta-loop MC Pete Miser. One Step Beyond, a Toronto-based jazz/funk outfit, opens the Five Fingers' late-night show at 10:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $4 to $5, call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS.
Hoops, there it is: Today's the perfect day to go see Denver's second-string professional basketball team. But the Nuggets aren't playing, so why not check out the best pro club in town? The Colorado Xplosion takes on Seattle tonight at McNichols Arena, and we can guarantee Priest Lauderdale will not take the floor. The action starts at 7 p.m. Call 832-2229.