Remember the torch-lighting ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in 1998? Then you no doubt saw and heard the city's thundering Matsukawa Kyougaku Taiko Drummers, a hometown ensemble dedicated to preserving an art that's been around for hundreds of years. And although some say the fierce and athletic percussion style, performed on huge, barrel-shaped drums, originated on the battlefield, today's practitioners are artists of the highest degree who excite and entertain rather than threaten. The group performs tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Seawell Ballroom, 14th and Curtis streets, to benefit the International Children's Project of the Aikido Humanitarian Active Network; a delicious Japanese buffet banquet follows at 8:30 p.m. at Domo Japanese Restaurant, 1365 Osage Street. Tickets are $30 for the performance only or $50 with dinner; for reservations, call 303-595-3666 or go to www.nippon-kan.org.
Friday, September 10
Cheap books are always a find, especially when you discover the bargains in your own back yard. Fulcrum Publishing, a Colorado independent, brings such deals to town once a year for its Pre-Holiday Warehouse Sale, a public event during which prices on hundreds of titles, including some brand-new ones, are slashed by 50 percent or more, with display copies and seconds going for as little as fifty cents apiece. In addition, the company, which specializes in books on hiking, travel, gardening, nature, history and the American West, will donate one dollar to the Denver Public Library for every book sold. Fulcrum sets up shop today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its Denver warehouse, 4425 East 46th Avenue; call 303-277-1623 or log on to www.fulcrum-books.com.
Photographer and filmmaker Christopher Felver found his niche in the '60s. Hanging out at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore drew him to the Beats -- Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady -- and launched a long career of documenting their contributions to American culture. From there he diversified, choosing a kaleidoscopic roster of mid- to late-twentieth-century leftists, actors, artists, musicians and free spirits as subjects. If that sounds the least bit enticing, then jog on up to Fort Collins, where Felver's work will be celebrated during a weekend visit by the artist himself. A full palette of Felver's still photographs are the focus of Voice & Vision, an exhibit opening tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Gallery 233, 231-33 Jefferson Street, and continuing through October 22. Felver returns to the gallery to sign books tomorrow night from 7:30 to 9 p.m. during "The Beat Sound: An Evening of Poetry and Such," which also features free readings with CSU prof Bill Tremblay and friends. Felver concludes his whirlwind weekend with film screenings and discussion at CSU's Lory Student Center from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Included in the program are documentaries about various Beats, avant-garde musician Cecil Taylor and the New York band Sonic Youth; admission is $3 to $5. For details, call 1-970-484-7500.
Saturday, September 11
If you're one of those folks who mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican independence, meet the real deal: Mexican Independence Day, which falls on September 16, recalls the day in 1810 when insurgent priest Father Miguel Hidalgo sounded "El Grito," or the cry, of independence from Napoleonic France. In these parts, the annual El Grito de la Independencia Festival recalls that day with great joy -- and a whole lot of fun -- on Santa Fe Drive between Eighth and Tenth avenues, in a neighborhood where Mexican restaurants, lowrider shops and tony art galleries peacefully co-exist. Featuring an Aztec Mercado, live entertainment on multiple stages, lowrider shows and craft and food vendors, El Grito fills the street with family-friendly activities from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today and tomorrow. For details, call 303-534-8342 or go to www.newsed.org.
The Colorado Dramatists' ongoing Proving Ground play-reading series doubles today as a subtle and thoughtful memorial on an anniversary that's mostly being treated in 2004 as just another Saturday. Local actors will read from the script Remembering 9/11: Collected Writings, a work in progress by Debbie Knapp that compiles short stories, newspaper accounts and even songs into a creative response, during a single performance at 8 p.m. at the Federal Theater, 3830 Federal Boulevard. Admission is $2; for reservations, call 303-399-4662.
Sunday, September 12
A unique form of theater, the Boulder-based Stories on Stage has a double-edged appeal, simultaneously exposing the drama in literature and bringing the power of printed words to life through its themed programs of staged readings. But SOS owes at least some of its mystique to the quality of its interpreters -- from esteemed Denver Center Theatre Company members to nationally known actors and authors -- as well as to the works themselves, a wide-ranging mélange of short stories and memoirs representing the best in literature. This delectable tango between disciplines revs up for a new season today with "A Little Bit of Karma Goes a Long Way," featuring DCTC stalwart Kathleen Brady reading Flannery O'Connor's work; actor Wes Studi reading Louise Erdrich; and all-around character Malachy McCourt reading Percival Everett, today at 2 and 7 p.m. at the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. Tickets are $20 ($85 for a season pass); call 303-494-0523 or 303-893-4100, or visit www.storiesonstage.org or www.denvercenter.org.