Act accordionly: The squeezebox isn't so noble, but the Volkswagen bug of musical instruments comes in infinite forms, and it culture-hops with cheerful abandon. And though it's sometimes dressed up with shiny chrome, glitter and a jillion buttons or keys, the accordion can also be as plain and uncomplicated as a sailor's unembellished, seaworthy concertina. Tonight the instrument's enduring mongrel history gets put in beautiful perspective when Once Upon an Accordion comes to town, with Ireland's John Whelan, France's Daniel Thonon and England's Chris Parkinson and their respective boxes in tow. Each is an accordion virtuoso in his own right: Whelan has won more than a dozen accordion championships and performed with Riverdance; the classically trained Thonon has composed music for Cirque du Soleil and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion; and Parkinson, who is as apt to segue into swing jazz as he is to stick with a stolid hornpipe, also tours with Green Linnet artists the House Band. Together they'll whisk you through Irish reels, Cajun waltzes, folk dances, polkas and maybe a Bulgarian boro or two tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.. For tickets, $15, call 830-TIXS; for additional information, call 777-0502.
Different strokes: Eclecticism is a hallmark of jazz's fusion generation, whose most prominent members love to flit adventurously from ensemble to ensemble, ever in search of new solutions to eternal musical questions. Guitarist John Scofield is surely a leader of that pack: His portfolio includes a kaleidoscopic barrel of projects, including a stint with Miles Davis, an organ-drum trio, a poignant duo with Pat Metheny and his recent orchestrated turn, Quiet, recorded on a nylon-string acoustic guitar with a ten-piece horn section backing him up. The Boulder Theater's Winter Jazz Series presents Scofield tonight at 8 with a hand-picked quartet that includes Larry Goldings, Dennis Irwin and longtime Scofield timekeeper Bill Stewart on drums; admission ranges from $15 to $22. The theater is at 2030 14th St. in Boulder; call 786-7030.
Bach to basics: Nobody doesn't like J.S. Bach--it isn't humanly possible. The great Baroque composer's soothing and cerebral fugues, concerti and cantatas cast a lasting spell over audiences that can't seem be broken--hence the Boulder Bach Festival, an annual tradition devoted to nothing but. This year's fest, taking place at Macky Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus, will feature local musicians and works for multiple instruments: Double violin and piano concerti lead off concerts tonight and tomorrow at 8, and a rare concerto for four harpsichords will be performed Sunday at 2. To reserve tickets, $11 to $30 per concert (series tickets range from $59 to $81), call 332-1580. Festival highlights, including the Ascension Oratorio and the Magnificat, will be reprised Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Denver at St. John's Episcopal Church, 14th and Washington; call the number listed above for tickets, $15 and $20. For more information call 494-3159 or log on to http://www.aescon.com/ music/ bbf/index.htm.
The old Ball game: California musician Patrick Ball started out as an Irish history major without a future and ended up a Celtic harpist of great repute, specializing in an old-fashioned, brass-strung instrument played with the fingernails. But his love for Ireland's lyrical culture and old stories persevered as well, and eventually Ball found a way to put it all together. For his one-man musical-theater piece, O'Carolan's Farewell to Music, written with Peter Glazer, he becomes poet Charles MacCabe--friend to legendary eighteenth-century Irish bard and composer Turlough O'Carolan--to recount in story and song the English decimation of ancient Gaelic culture from a firsthand perspective. Ball performs the piece tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.; for information and tickets, $12 to $14, call 777-1003.
Write stuff: Sorry, but the Bombay Gin Benefit won't have you swimming in a martini bath to raise funds for homeless olives. Instead, the event supports a nationally distributed literary journal named after the high-end spirit and produced and edited by students of the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Naropa faculty members and friends Jack Collom, Steven Taylor, Bobbie Louise Hawkins and Lee Christopher will provide poetry readings and music, while a silent auction offers bidding on gourmet meals, theater tickets, original artwork and other cultured goodies, tonight at 7:30 at Naropa's Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. Admission ranges from $5 to $8; for information and tickets call 546-3540.
Let's go bowling: Some of us will shop. Others will go to the movies. But the odds on where most of us will be today probably won't set Vegas on fire. In a town madly in love with its long-suffering football team, Super Bowl XXXII is the only place to be. It really doesn't matter where you watch, or with whom, but if a group activity with a really big screen is what you crave, the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., is hosting just such an animal, beginning today at 3:30 (admission is free; call 322-2308), as is the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, where doors open at 2 (also free; call 786-7030).