Butt out: If you're tired of your butt freezing while you're having a smoke outdoors in the dead of January, maybe it's time you jumped on the wagon. You can join other puffers -- and plenty of sympathetic company -- at the Auraria campus for today's Great American Smokeout event. Activities include a Fun Walk at noon (meet at the bus turnaround on the east side of the Tivoli Student Center, 900 Auraria Parkway), followed by a lecture at 1 p.m. in the Tivoli Turnhalle with anti-smoking advocate Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds. He disowned the family business after watching one relative after another die of emphysema. Free quit kits and resource information are also available; call 303-556-4247 or 303-556-2595 for details.
Who's got the biggest ten-gallon hat around these parts? Find out tonight during the final round of the metro area's own Nashville Star Auditions, a national country-music talent search hosted by the USA Network in preparation for the second installment of its on-air reality competition next March. Denver's winner will join other regional champs for further winnowing in January. The victors could go on to the national finals and even the show itself, where the top of the crop will compete for a contract with Sony Music Nashville, just like budding superstar Buddy Jewel did the first time around. Local finals, featuring musicians good enough to be called back after two days of preliminaries, wrap up tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Grizzly Rose, 5450 North Valley Highway; for information, call 303-295-1330.
While the USA Network begins construction on a new Nashville star at the Grizzly Rose, others will be deconstructing pop music in various venues around town. At the Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway, Englewood, the volatile Yeah Yeah Yeahs reduce music down to a stylish racket enhanced by ferocious frontwoman Karen O, who's all torn fishnets and mask-like hair, at 9 p.m.; for tickets, $13, call 303-380-2333. Meanwhile, New York City's latest punk revivalists, the Star Spangles, a gang of self-proclaimed starving-artist bums described as a cross between the Ramones and the Replacements, open for Johnny Ramone-endorsed California alt-popsters Rooney, at 8 p.m. at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street. Tickets to that show are $15; call 303-297-1772.
Friday, November 21
Entertainment as warm and comfy as a pair of sheepskin slippers is coming your way just in time for the holiday season, which, as we all know, has turned into something more akin to a carousel ride from hell, strung with lights and blasted by canned Christmas music. Whoa, Nelly! Slow down and relax with A Taffeta Christmas, a festive performance that brings back the Taffetas, a '50s all-girl singing group from Muncie, Indiana (sort of a female version of the Forever Plaid guys), in a revue ostensibly performed "live" from the Muncie Moose Lodge. Kaye, Peggy, Cheryl and Donna will warble through "Jingle Bell Rock" and other mid-century pop tunes at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, tonight through December 28, at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora. To reserve tickets, $15 to $20, call 303-361-2910.
Saturday, November 22
How many piano students does it take to perform Dvork's Slavonic Dances? Usually, just two -- but at the Multiple Piano Festival, it could include up to 24 key-tickling musicians, seated in pairs at twelve grand pianos lined up on stage. The annual mass recital, hosted by the Boulder Area Music Teachers Association, happens tonight at 7 p.m. at the Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, 600 East Mountain View Avenue in Longmont. During the evening of four-handed duets, Dances and numerous easier pieces will be performed by nearly 300 participants, including students of all ages and abilities and their accomplished teachers. If nothing else, it's gotta be something to hear. Admission is $7 at the door; call 303-494-0477.
Sunday, November 23
All holidays, all the time: The Christmas season is here, with nothing but an endless parade of Nutcracker performances and other holiday fare on the entertainment horizon for the next six weeks. Get used to it. The Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts, 200 East Baseline Road in Lafayette, gets a head start with its annual presentation of Menotti's one-act opera Amahl and the Night Visitors, a family-friendly work that refers back to the original Christmas story -- the one that took place long before Mr. Claus was a twinkle in his mama's eye. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. tonight, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday; admission ranges from $5 to $13. Call 303-665-0599 or log on to www.rmcma.org.
Monday, November 24
Hold on to your seats, avant-garde music fans; your prayers have been answered. There's very little you won't hear tonight, when Creative Music Works presents the eclectic Santa Cruz quartet Estradasphere in a rare acoustic performance at 8 p.m. at Dulcinea's 100th Monkey, 717 East Colfax Avenue. The combo of twenty-somethings throw just about everything into the mix when they roar through a gig, from speed metal to gypsy jazz to surf music to TV theme music to, um, Tuvan throat singing. Tickets are $7 to $10 at the door; for more information, call 303-759-1797 or log on to www.creativemusicworks.org.