Things just cain't be right in these parts in January without the Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Presented by the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, it's the ultimate assemblage of all things folksy and philosophical that's parallel to, if not quite in conjunction with, the National Western Stock Show. This year's tenth-anniversary hoedown, four days in all, features a particularly strong lineup of newcomers, perennials and, especially, old favorites such as "Zen Cowboy" Chuck Pyle; poet John Schaffner (who's also an auctioneer and a chuck-wagon chef) and his dad, Clarence; beloved Colorado personality Pete Smythe; and the harmonizing duo of Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn. The gathering kicks off tonight with a formal performance at 7:30, and events continue through a Sunday matinee. Admission is $7 for day passes on Saturday and Sunday, and $15 for all stage performances. The Arvada Center is at 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard; for a schedule and reservations, call 303-431-3939 or log on www.arvadacenter.org.
Demonic convergence: Every winter daredevil on the planet--more than 250 of them, to be exact--will flock this (long) weekend to Crested Butte for the extra-spicy, extra-dicey ESPN Winter X Games, slated to take place on the Butte's slopes today through Monday. Spectators can catch a thrill watching everything from treacherous ice climbing to snow mountain-bike racing; call 1-970-349-4278 for event information or 1-800-970-9704 for lodging reservations. And never fear, couch tubers: You, too, can be all eyes. The games are within your weak grasp on the remote--check your local listings for several hours' worth of broadcasts from the games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Wide World of Sports.
That jazzy jump-swing blues that's suddenly all the rage among yuppies and yuppettes is old hat for Roomful of Blues--the blues big band that's indisputably Providence, Rhode Island's oldest and most venerable act to get down to, as well as a springboard for such talents as Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl and departing vocalist Sugar Ray Norcia. Though the Roomful's gone through countless personnel changes since its inception in 1968--most notably a major shakeup last year that brought five new players into the fold--the quality control is firmly in place, as evidenced by There Goes the Neighborhood, the band's latest release and a critical success. Here's all you need to know: When Roomful of Blues plays the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, tonight at 9, the joint will jump--period. Tickets are $12.75; call 303-786-7030.
Cowboys and Indians may seem a trifle moldy in these modern times, but if the Colorado Indian Market & Western Art Festival, which features the nation's best American Indian and Western arts and crafts along with live performances, artist demonstrations and more, is any indication, it ain't down yet. Consistently honored as one of the nation's premier art festivals and fun events, the market gets under way today from noon to 9 p.m. at Currigan Hall, 1324 Champa St., and continues from 10 to 9 Saturday, 10 to 6 Sunday and 10 to 5 Monday. The tariff for adults is $8 (kids under fourteen free); for a sneak peek, log on to www.IndianMarket.net.
Wickedly immoral or simply beautiful? You'll have to decide when viewing Jock Sturges: Photographs From 1997 & 1998, a collection of recent work by the California photographer who's been both jeered and revered for his au naturel studies of children snapped at nudist beaches. The exhibit opens tonight at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., with an artist reception and book signing from 5:30 to 8:30, then continues through February 28; call 303-623-4059.
On another front (though not full-frontal), the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 1750 13th St., Boulder, starts off 1999 with Sans Titre: Works From the Collection of Peggy Scott and David Teplitzky, a large show encompassing works by modern masters in a variety of media. Basquiat, Close, Haring, Lichtenstein, Mapplethorpe, Rauschenberg, Serrano and Warhol are just a few of the diverse names you'll encounter on BMoCA's walls; the show opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 and continues through March 14. The installation Power of Sight: Film Treatments by Joel Heartling will also be on view; call 303-443-2122.
What combines sea swimming, bicycling and--yikes--marathon running, is hell on your wheels and throws in a hula dance at the end if you stick to the program? It's the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon event, a grueling contest of strength and endurance that's been won six times by athlete--or nutcase?--Dave Scott. Scott will be on hand today from 11 to 2 for a video screening of the 1998 Ironman bout at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; donations of canned or dry goods for Boulder's Community Food Share will be collected at the door. Budding triathletes can also register for Boulder's own upcoming triathlon event; for more information call 303-786-7030.
In Colorado, mid-January can mean anything in the weather department. But here's hoping today's an unseasonable beaut: It's the first free day of the year for Colorado residents at Denver Zoo, which--believe it or not--doesn't ever go into hibernation. The most intrepid zoo visitors can check out mama polar bear Ulu and her cubs in their maternity den on closed-circuit television, while the less hardy can hang in the zoo's steamy Tropical Discovery exhibit, nose around a gift shop laden with furry facsimiles or grab a burger at the snack bar. The zoo is at 2300 Steele St. in City Park (303-331-4100); for information on other Colorado free days, call 303-376-4800.
Some of us look at it as an extra day off in the wake of those wearying holidays. But for many folks, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to celebrate community. As always, there are numerous ways to join others for that purpose, but the most time-honored must be the Marade, an annual march from City Park to Civic Center that's attended by civic leaders and bookended by special invocations, presentations and a good helping of gospel music. To participate this year, gather at the King statue near the Museum of Natural History, in City Park, at 9 a.m. for a 10 a.m. stepoff; for information, call the Urban League of Denver, 303-388-5861. A bus to the parade also leaves the Iliff School of Theology, 2201 S. University Blvd., at 8:30 a.m.; call 303-765-3191 for details.
Looking for other ways to participate? The Neighborhood Resource Center of Metro Denver is working with neighborhoods to encourage MLK Day Peace Dinners by distributing Peace Dinner Packs containing block-organizing tips, neighborhood grant applications, the text of King's "I Have a Dream" speech and more, available in Spanish and English. To obtain a kit, call 303-561-2215. And it's probably not too late to volunteer for the Dinner for Those Who Hunger, a King commemoration sponsored annually by Volunteers of America. Coats and winter clothing will be handed out and more than 1,500 meals served to the tune of live jazz and gospel music at Sunset Park, 1865 Larimer St., from 3 to 6 p.m.; for information call 303-297-0408 or log on to www.voacolorado.org.
He's from Colorado and he's a winner: Author Stephen White has the detective/thriller genre sewn up in his pocket wherever books are sold. But for us here in the metro area, his mysteries are especially fun to read because they're set in these parts and star Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory. In White's latest, Manner of Death, the investigating gets personal for Gregory but also touches on the D.B. Cooper paradox, musing on what happened to that guy loaded down with loot who parachuted out of a plane years ago and disappeared. White drops by the Rue Morgue Mystery Bookshop, 946 Pearl St. in Boulder, tonight at 7 to talk and sign; call 303-443-8346.
DU's Lamont School of Music boasts an artist-heavy faculty that rarely gets its due. Tonight a whole host of the unsung get together to examine the work of another underestimated group--contemporary composers including Lutoslawski, Messaien, Copland and Stravinsky. A who's-who of solo and ensemble performers present 20th Century Music at 7:30 p.m. at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd. Admission is $7 in advance ($8 day of concert); call 303-871-6412.