Seers for Years

Dylan, McGuinn keep the fires burning

>My first time with Bob Dylan was a million years ago in my brother Mark's room. There, Mark kept a bare-tubed amp and stereo that he cherished fiercely, and he'd sometimes allow me to come in for listening sessions -- indoctrinations, really -- that covered the gamut of what was hip in the late '60s. Dylan was at the top of his game then: earnest, mocking, poetic, angry, mysterious -- an emotional ball of ambition who stabbed you in the heart and twisted the knife all around with a flick of deft phrasing. And Mark would spin the Byrds, too -- back when Roger McGuinn was still known as Jim. They took Dylan's imagery and stamped it into pristine three-minute pop classics with ringing guitars and floating harmonies, beautified yet still sharp, brilliant all over again in a brand-new light.

Times change. There are kids these days who don't even know who Bob Dylan is, let alone Roger McGuinn, and that's as it should be. New generations spawn new seers. Pioneering hip-hopper Mos Def, for instance, is getting flak as we speak for "going electric" and forsaking his original vision. Where have we heard that before?

I can't help myself, world. Just as I've got to prefer the Red Sox -- with their high socks, nappy dreads, Ahab beards, pot bellies, dirty helmets and unfashionably long locks -- to the straight and narrow Yanks in their neat pinstripes, I have to love pop music's throwbacks. McGuinn's is strictly a solo show now -- a little bit canned, but not without sensational moments, too. He likes to walk on stage without brass or bravado, surreptitiously wired for sound and strumming his guitar. And while he clearly basks in adoration from his reverent baby-boomer audience, that's not why he's there. He's there to remind folks how sea chanteys and field hollers and folk ballads evolved into "Eight Miles High." Roger is just all right with me. Hear him Friday, October 22, at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue; for tickets, $22 to $25, call 303-777-1003 or go to www.swallowhill.com.

And Dylan, a natty dude with his sleazeball pencil mustache and crack backup band -- not to mention a memoirist who's back in the news -- hits the modern stage with seasoned panache, still delivering surprises and stunning resurrections when he's on. You can see for yourself on Sunday, October 24, at 8 p.m. at Coors Amphitheatre, 6350 South Greenwood Plaza Boulevard, Greenwood Village. Admission is $37.50; call 303-830-TIXS. -- Susan Froyd

Poetry in Motion
Ars Nova does justice to cummings
FRI, 10/22

When twentieth-century poet e.e. cummings, inspired by cubism, decided -- delightfully -- to break up the English language by toying with syntax, punctuation, visual presentation and poetic structure, he unwittingly presented a challenge to modern composers to Try to make music with this!Fortunately, many took up that challenge, which coincided with similar revolutions in the changing world of aural arrangement. The playful and modern cummings spirit continued on its journey from fine-art roots and literate maturity to an obvious musical denouement.

With that in mind, Boulder's venerable Ars Nova Singers open their new season with View to the West: Poets Dream, a choral celebration of that interdisciplinary union featuring cummings's works set to music by Eric Whitacre, Swedish composer Lars Johan Werle and Ars Nova artistic director Thomas Morgan. Also on the bill, alongside a sharp selection of contemporary choral works, is another poetic rendering, "Meditations of Li Po," by Stephen Paulus. Ars Nova will perform the works twice this weekend: tonight at 7:30 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street in Boulder, and at the same time on Sunday at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington Street in Denver. Admission is $9 to $16; call 303-499-3165 or log on to www.arsnovasingers. org for reservations. -- Susan Froyd

Killer Symphony
WED, 10/27

The thirteenth annual Colorado Symphony Orchestra Classic Halloween offers a little more treat than trick tonight, though there will be some spirited moments.

"With all of the scary things going on around Halloween that frighten children, we thought, 'Why not just make a wonderful evening for the entire family?'" says CSO spokeswoman Jayce Keane.

To join in the fun, symphony-goers are invited to dress up -- but they won't be the only ones. Musicians in costume will make the rounds during pre-concert activities that include arts and crafts, storytelling and plenty of candy.

The orchestra will present selections from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, "Witches' Sabbath," from Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, and Leonard Bernstein's "Mambo," from West Side Story. During the performance, a spooky surprise should give the audience goose bumps, Keane says.

Ghostly strains will waft through Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis streets, beginning at 6:30 p.m.; pre-concert activities start at 5:30. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for children; for more information, call 303-MAESTRO or visit www.coloradosymphony.org. -- Richard Kellerhals

Back in Time
Tin-Pan Americana takes 78 rpms for a spin
THURS, 10/21

You'd never confuse Ukulele Loki with Tiny Tim, but the Boulder-based old-time music nut does share a certain mindset with the late, great, warbly voiced, uke-strummin' weirdo who tiptoed through the tulips on national television back in the '60s. As co-host with obsessed musical archivist Uncle Jeff on Radio 1190's Sunday-night 78-rpm spinfest, Route 78 West, Loki, aka Aaron Johnson, touts '20s-vintage jug-band music as the sound of the future -- and guess what? The walking, talking, fedora-sporting, wingtip-wearing, twenty-something regressive, who also emcees the Crispy Family Carnival sideshow, is really cool. Do we detect a trend?

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