Delbert McClinton has never gone out of style, partly because he's never really been in style. Consider that "Givin' It Up for Your Love," his biggest commercial success, was only the 58th- most-popular song of 1981, trailing behind such works of genius as Gino Vanelli's "Living Inside Myself," A Taste of Honey's cover of "Sukiyaki" and the year's champ, Kim Carnes's "Bette Davis Eyes." And although he's been in the business for over forty years (long enough to have taught John Lennon how to play harmonica), even the experts still have difficulty figuring out exactly what kind of music he makes. "Good Man, Good Woman," a 1991 duet with Bonnie Raitt, won a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal, while Nothing Personal was judged 2001's Best Contemporary Blues Album. To confuse matters further, cover versions of his songs by the likes of Emmylou Harris have generated an audience for McClinton among country fans, which helps explain why he's headlining tonight at Denver's foremost twang emporium, the Grizzly Rose. Granted, categorization means less than nothing when McClinton's on the stage, where his latest disc, 2003's Live (on the New West imprint) was recorded. His distinctive hybrid of R&R, R&B and C&W may seem complicated on paper, but it makes perfect sense once the sound of his brawny, mischievous voice reaches the ear. His take on American music isn't au currant, because he wouldn't know how to follow a trend if he tried. Thankfully, he has all the style he'll ever need.
Denver Rep lets the audience play a part
Here's a switch: One of the city's newest theater troupes, the Denver Repertory Theatre Company, wants you to be its director. Well, sort of. As company artistic director David C. Riley notes, the real challenge won't exactly be yours. When the Denver Rep opens its inaugural production, Sam Shepard's True West, tonight at 7:30 p.m., the hardest jobs will go to Riley and fellow actor Robert Kramer, who are cast in the leading roles as estranged brothers -- both of them. For the first two weeks of the run, the pair will switch roles every other night; the second two weeks, they'll switch nightly, at intermission. And the last two nights? That's where you come in.
Throughout most of the run, audience members can purchase $5 "Director for a Night" raffle tickets. Winners earn the right to "direct" shows on March 12 and 13 by yelling "Switch!" as often as they like, at which time Riley and Kramer will trade characters. A gimmick? "Well, it is," Riley admits, "but we're actually trying to keep the characters believable, too."
True West continues Fridays and Saturdays through March 13, at the Denver Repertory Theatre, 1425 West 13th Avenue; for tickets, $15, call 303-839-4393. -- Susan Froyd
Liven up your Presidents' Day weekend at the Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival, a stellar lineup of twenty bands, including the James King Band, Eddie and Martha Adcock, Lost & Found and the Cherryholmes Family. Today through Sunday, gospel performances, instrumental and vocalist workshops, jam sessions and an arts-and-crafts fair will also power the hoedown.
Head to the Northglenn Holiday Inn at I-25 and 120th Avenue, where you can snap up tickets ranging in price from $20 to $30 per day; multiple-day passes cost $42 to $48. Kids ages six to twelve are admitted for half price, and those under age six will be admitted free. For a complete schedule, visit www.seamanevents.com. -- Julie Dunn
Opera Colorado celebrates a time of passion
Opera Colorado will spread the passion of Valentine's Day with its performance of Love Songs tonight at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder. "What more perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by listening to some of the most romantic songs of all time?" asks Dairy spokeswoman Sarah Leversee. "We thought it would be great to bring more opera to Boulder."
The second program in the Dairy's first Winter Artist Series, Love Songs will include highlights from La Bohème, The Marriage of Figaroand La Traviata.
"The second half will feature a Broadway and operatic medley that will cover everything from West Side Storyto Carmen to Rodgers and Hammerstein," says Leversee. "It's going to be one of our biggest events of the year."
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 303-440-7826. The Dairy is at 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; for more details, visit www.thedairy.org. -- Julie Dunn