Plenty of musicians work at paring off the layers, inching just that much closer to their inspirational wellspring. But few do it in a purer fashion than slide guitarist/songwriter Chris Whitley, who's switched from his tortured, dense, feedback-shot sound of a few years ago to the totally low-tech, unplugged approach heard on his new, aptly titled CD Dirt Floor, which was, incidentally, recorded in a barn in Vermont. Whitley appears all by his lonesome--with guitar but sans barn--tonight at 7:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $8.50, call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS.
Stravinsky's Firebird has got it all: a diabolical magician, a supernatural avian, insidious demons and a bunch of drop-dead beautiful princesses all wrapped up in a sultry, raucous score. The old Russian tale set to music, tailor-made for people with active imaginations, will provide more than enough excitement when it's performed by the Boulder Ballet, with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra providing the accompaniment. The ballet presents Firebird tonight and tomorrow at 8 and Sunday at 2 at Macky Auditorium, on the CU-Boulder campus; admission ranges from $8 to $35. Call 449-1343.
If your taste in dance tends toward the more stripped-down modern milieu, Jumpstart/ Dance Works offers a streamlined take on the contemporary, social and choreographic concerns of artistic director Maureen Breeze tonight and tomorrow at 8 at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, 119 Park Ave. West. The program's highlight, Light, a premiere piece about addiction recovery, provides contrast to a collection of repeat works that both soar and amuse. Admission is $8 to $10; for reservations call 722-6911.
LoDo pioneered First Friday gallery walks in Denver, but now it seems everyone's gotten into the act. The latest to join the trend, however, does so with a twist. Tonight's Tennyson Street Art Walk is so delightfully small-scale, it should be more of a block party than a hoity-toity gallery schmoozer. Welcome to the neighborhood: The walk, along Tennyson from 39th to 44th Ave., features stops at the Lapis, Heart Studio and Leaping Lizard galleries, as well as a taste of live jazz at Sherman's Coffeehouse, a cozy local meeting place. Walk the walk between 6 and 10; for information call 455-1084.
Folks never tire of the mystery of the ancient Egyptians, whose fascinating culture left behind no less than pyramids for us to ponder in modern times. A fine collection of similar, albeit smaller, Egyptian leavings--including a carved limestone sarcophagus lid, stunning gold jewelry, masks, functional objects, sculptures and an entire thirteen-ton chapel wall carved with hieroglyphics and figures--will help sate some of that never-ending inquisitiveness when the new blockbuster exhibit Searching for Ancient Egypt: Art, Architecture and Artifacts opens today at the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. Along with a spectacular array of artifacts, exhibitgoers will also be treated to the Courtyard of Curiosities, a series of you-are-there interactive stations where participants can get wrapped up like a mummy or made up to look like Cleopatra. Admission, $4 to $9.50, includes a random-access audio tour designed to offer a flexible, pick-and-choose approach to providing narration for the exhibit. Ancient Egypt runs through August 2; for reservations, call 640-4433 or 1-888-663-4978.
For those seeking entertainment this evening, it's a stunning night of Georges, neither of whom requires a whole lot of introduction. World-weary comedian George Carlin brings his hipsterish brand of observational humor to the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, tonight at 8 in a benefit performance for local public-television station KBDI/Channel 12. Carlin's sprightly cynicism never seems to go stale; call 830-TIXS for tickets, $25 to $38.
And at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax, funk genius George Clinton leads his P-Funk All Stars on a sweaty romp that begins at 9 and will undoubtedly progress--or regress, as the case may be--into the wee hours. It's an outfit that never fails to please, but be forewarned: Wear comfortable shoes, because the dancing is certain to be nonstop. Tickets are $28; call 830-2525.
Ska--that speed-happy, horn-driven, up-all-night, dance-on-the-tabletop little cousin of reggae that keeps coming at us every decade or so in lovely, party-perfect waves--is back in a big way. So put on your shades and porkpie hats: The Specials, major players in ska's last great revival during the Eighties, are back, too. Their sound is a little different than it was in their heyday, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. See for yourself tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $15, call 322-2308.
In popular culture, it's simply stuff that's the stuff of dreams. And if you're a collector, you can never have enough of it. So brighten up, gotta-haves--there'll be stuff galore at today's campy Collectors Supershow, taking place from 10 to 5 at the Radisson Graystone Castle, I-25 and 120th Ave. Godzilla fans will find hundreds of reproductions of the overgrown reptile for sale, along with old and new toys, comics (no doubt chucked out of hundreds of kids' closets by their unthinking parents), a cache of memorabilia and a cultish assortment of celebrity guests, including actress Julie Newmar (Catwoman on television's Batman) and the fully grown Butch Patrick, aka Eddie Munster. Show admission is $3 (children under twelve admitted free); call 722-0530 for details.