Ben Sidran--the same Ben Sidran who played alongside Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs in an early rendition of the Steve Miller Band, the same Ben Sidran who holds a doctorate in American studies, and the same Ben Sidran who's written definitive books about jazz musicians and documentary movie soundtracks and owns his own record label--has, over the years, forged ahead musically while coming full circle personally. The upshot of that journey is the Ben Sidran Quartet, a sort of jazzed-up return to Sidran's Jewish roots. He brings the group, along with local success story Nelson Rangell, to perform outdoors for the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center's Sounds of Summer--Music Under the Stars series. The center is at 350 S. Dahlia St.; the concert starts at 7 p.m. on the terrace. For tickets, $12 to $14 (box dinners can be reserved in advance for an additional $5 to $8), call 321-8297.
The annual Denver Rock N' Rhythm-Billy Weekend--fast becoming a summer tradition in Denver--revs up again today for another go, with a deluge of cool apparel, retro 'dos, finger-popping sounds and swingin' dance steps trailing in its poodle-skirted wake. Round-the-clock rock will be provided by an international roster of artists--including headliner Joe Clay, the Netherlands' Ranch Girls, Germany's Ike and the Capers, Sweden's Eddie and the Flatheads, and homegrown artists such as the Horton Brothers, Dave Stuckey and His Western All-Stars, the Sugar King Boys, the Dalhart Imperials, and Mr. Booker and the Swingtette, among others. The fun starts tonight at 6:30 at the Holiday Inn DIA, I-70 and Chambers Rd.; tomorrow's lineup includes a fashion show, a hot-rod display and dance classes and wraps up with another great night of live music. Admission is $35 in advance for a two-day pass (or $20 daily at the door); for more information call Big K Productions, 455-8408.
Next time you're huffing and puffing your way up some mountain pass on your 387-gear streamlined high-tech road bike decked out in those second-skin, fluorescent-yellow microfiber togs, think about the bicyclists of yore, who had to make do with far more basic equipment, whatever the terrain or temperature. The Buonpane Collection, a series of black-and-white archival photographs taken in the 1930s and '40s during the Tour de France, ought to jog your memory nicely. They go on display today at the David Uhl Gallery, 1261 Delaware St. A reception takes place tonight from 5 to 10, and the exhibit continues through July 24; for details call 534-3309.
"One big happy" is an apt description for PHAMALy, Denver's own troupe of physically handicapped actors. This summer the spunky outfit presents The Boy Friend, a musical of the Roaring Twenties with one of those cute mistaken-identity plots that reads like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta with a Jazz Age beat. It's a cheerful romp that the PHAMALy members promise to attack with the usual elan. The Boy Friend opens tonight at 8 at the Space Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, and continues through July 26 (including audio-described performances on July 11, 16, 19 and 25); admission ranges from $12 to $15. Call 575-0005 for showtimes and reservations.
There's plenty of pomp and circumstance at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, but there's also lots of plain old fun--really old fun. The annual affair, spread out on the grounds in Larkspur, features all things sixteenth-century, from costumed minstrels and charging jousters to working artisans and vendors hawking those jolly Henry VIII turkey legs for your gnawing pleasure, every Saturday and Sunday through August 2. This weekend has been deemed Wine Revelry Weekend, meaning there'll be an overabundance of free samples and community grape-stomping, to boot. But if you're a kid, fear not: You can still amuse yourself with games or at a petting zoo or crawling about in a two-story maze. To reach the festival, drive south on I-25 to Exit 173; gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 6:30 p.m. daily. Admission is $6 to $12.95 (children under five admitted free); call 1-303-688-6010 or log onto www.coloradorenaissance.com.
Here's a great way to improve your horse sense: The High Prairie Farms Equestrian Center hosts a Hands-On Horses Day at noon today in conjunction with the annual Rocky Mountain Classic Grand Prix, a competition that puts champion jumpers through their paces beginning at 3. Before the main event, you can get up-close and personal with thirty breeds of horseflesh and talk with breeders in the barn, stroll among booths manned by animal-welfare organizations or watch horse-care and riding demos. The center is located at 7522 S. Pinery Dr., Parker, and tickets are $10 (children eleven and under and seniors admitted free); call 841-5550.
When it's too hot to sleep, we suggest going to the movies--the only downside to basking in the dark and cool is the task of finding a movie that will keep you awake. To aid and abet, midnight shows are hoppin' every Friday and Saturday night all summer long at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway, where two eye-opening series--Festival Hong Kong and The Terror Train--are guaranteed to send your adrenaline level off the map. This weekend's acrobatic Hong Kong offering, Dragon Inn, pits a band of upright martial-arts heroes against a depraved eunuch, while the horror bill is filled by the super-violent Cemetery Man. Also playing is The Beyond, Lucio Fulci's gory horror classic, Italian style. Programs change weekly through August 22; call 744-6796.