On the Run

A.C.E. conducts a mystery tour

 SAT, 8/23

Denver improv-comedy trio A.C.E. is on the move again with its fourth annual "go show," a summer tradition of taking comedy to the streets. "It's really fun to do a moving show, because you can be totally spontaneous," says A.C.E. co-founder Linda Klein.

The destination for today's show is top secret, but here's a hint: It's called In the Woods, so you'd better bring your hiking boots. "This summer, we thought we'd go for more of a wild setting," says Klein. "We're going to find out what's so funny about the wilderness of Colorado -- from fairy tales to crazy sports fanatics."

A.C.E. takes it outside.
A.C.E. takes it outside.
Yoichi Watanabe has the beat.
Yoichi Watanabe has the beat.
Backbone Velvet takes part in this year's Rock Out 
Aids.
Backbone Velvet takes part in this year's Rock Out Aids.
Garrison Keillor keeps busy on a Prairie tour.
Garrison Keillor keeps busy on a Prairie tour.

With the tag line "Three nations, one great show," A.C.E. was created by Klein, an American, Canadian Barbara Gehring and Englishman Matthew Taylor five years ago. Think Bob Newhart meets Second City meets Monty Python.

"We all have different cultural and creative viewpoints that we work off of," says Klein. "All of our performances are very collaborative and character-driven."

How does it work? Audience members will gather today at noon at an undisclosed Denver metro meeting point (released once they fork over a credit-card number) and will be ferried about thirty minutes away for an afternoon of fun and games. "A lot of the show is based on surprise and the unexpected," says Klein of the approximately two-hour-long Woods. "We like to touch on all of the senses. We use a lot of props and have a lot of audience interaction; we're even taking audio and video components with us."

But you don't have to worry about bringing wilderness supplies: A.C.E. will provide each attendee with an "audience preparedness kit."

"Who knows what you're going to get?" muses the ever-evasive Klein. "You're definitely going to move around, but it's not going to be a strenuous afternoon. It's not like we're taking people up a fourteener or spooking them, like The Blair Witch Project. There is nothing to fear." In fact, the show is appropriate for all ages. "Some of our biggest fans are three-year-olds," says Klein. "We keep things clean."

The audience for In the Woods is limited to 45 people; tickets, $25, must be purchased in advance by calling 303-322-6750. For more information, go to www.ACEcomedy.com. -- Julie Dunn

Taiko drum artist shares his mastery
MON, 8/25

The beat goes on as Japanese taiko drum artist Watanabe Yoichi gives a free lecture and demonstration tonight at the Denver Botanic Gardens. "It's not just a music that you listen to; you feel it with your whole body," says Matthew Johnson, spokesman for the Consulate General of Japan at Denver, in reference to taiko drumming. "People are going to be amazed to see just how powerful it is."

Yoichi is in Denver until September 16 as a "special advisor for cultural exchange" under a new program created by the Japanese government to promote mutual understanding. Thirteen advisors are being sent around the world; Yoichi, who is also visiting several metro schools and festivals, is one of three people traveling to the United States. "He is a great master of the art," says Johnson. "Mr. Yoichi is very esteemed as a taiko teacher and performer in Japan. We're very lucky to have him coming here."

The master will share his techniques for playing the large drums this evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the DBG, 1005 York Street, and will also perform alongside the Denver Taiko group, which has been playing locally for more than 27 years. "It will be informative as well as entertaining," promises Johnson. "It's almost like watching a dance performance."

For information, call 303-534-1151. -- Julie Dunn

They Will Rock You
FRI, 8/22

While some of you slackers may think you have an excuse for not participating in the Colorado AIDS Project's 10K AIDS Walk Sunday morning -- yeah, yeah, 10 a.m. is just too early for you -- there's absolutely no reason for anyone to miss out on this year's Rock Out AIDS festival, which starts tonight. Organized by local booking agent Sharon Rawles eight years ago to supplement CAP's Walk earnings, the event continues to grow, this year spanning three nights and three venues. Rawles, who lost her best friend to AIDS, explains her motivation for mixing music with philanthropy: "I'm in a position to help reach a lot of different age groups and lifestyles of people with the variety of the bands we can book."

A lineup including blues-nouveau breakouts Backbone Velvet, Denver stalwarts (and Westword Music Award winners) Opie Gone Bad and nineteen other favorites (see our Bars/Clubs section for complete listings) is well worth the $7 nightly cover charge. The action starts at 7 p.m. tonight at Cricket on the Hill (1209 East 13th Avenue), moves to the Blue Mule (1624 Market Street) tomorrow and wraps up at Herman's Hideaway (1578 South Broadway) on Sunday. Call 303-861-WALK for details. -- Catalina Soltero

Radio Days
Keillor and crew take their Home away from home.
THURS, 8/21

Lake Wobegon, right here in Denver? That's right, folks: Host Garrison Keillor will bring his decades-old radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, to our neck of the woods tonight. The Minnesota-based program, heard every weekend in Denver on National Public Radio, will stop at the Universal Lending Pavilion tonight as part of this month's Rhubarb Tour, named for the sweet-and-sour qualities that Prairie shares with the curious vegetable. Although the shows on the tour will not hit the airwaves, devotees can expect to experience live all of the homey, Midwestern charm and wholesome comedy of a broadcast show: tales of life in Keillor's mythical hometown, Lake Wobegon; music by featured musicians Peter Ostroushko and Stephanie Davis; and commercial skits by the tour's special sponsor, Bebop-a-rebop Rhubarb Pie. Eclectic local musician Mollie O'Brien will be the "surprise" guest for tonight's show, which starts at 7:30 p.m.; freed from broadcast time restraints, Keillor may even keep it going longer than the usual two hours.

Universal Lending Pavilion is in the Pepsi Center parking lot; for tickets, $25 to $50, call 303-405-1111. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz

 
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