Most people are only familiar with the work of Greg Brown because of the impact it's had on a wide variety of more mainstream artists. Carlos Santana and Willie Nelson, for example, scored a hit when they teamed up to cover Brown's "They All Went to Mexico" in the early 1980s. More recently, Going Driftless: An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown featured covers by well-known folk-rockers such as Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco and Shawn Colvin. True fans of folk music, though, value Brown for more than his appeal to artists with refined sensibilities; instead, his dirty guitar and howling foghorn of a voice have kept them entertained for years. Born in the Hacklebarney section of Iowa, the type of hillbilly territory where country, blues and folk music fuse together in the soil, Brown seemed destined to become a musician. His grandfather was a poet, his father a preacher, and his mother played electric guitar. At eighteen, he headed to New York City, where he hosted folk-flavored hootenannies for pocket change. The seed was planted, and Brown began to travel the country performing, garnering comparisons to fellow Midwestern troubadour Bob Dylan. His work ethic has birthed an enormous crop of music -- more than a dozen albums -- which has in turn led to two Grammy nominations.
Brown performs tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at Swallow Hill, 71 East Yale Avenue. Tickets are $28 in advance (call 303-777-1003) or $31 at the door. --Adam Cayton-Holland
O, Holy Mike
Fans of hip-hop can get spiritually "crunk" at tonight's Hip-Hop Service at First Plymouth Congregational Church. The unique service uses freestyle jams and specially chosen songs as catalysts for a discussion of Christian faith issues as well as social situations surrounding hip-hop culture.
"The main idea is to connect everyone on one level, and we have chosen hip-hop as that medium," says First Plymouth's Corbin Davis. "We invite anyone who is interested in hip-hop as a tool for self-expression to attend this event."
The service begins at 7 p.m. at the church, 3501 South Colorado Boulevard; for information, call 303-762-0616. -- Richard Kellerhals
Party Like the Dickens
The Christmas Revels revives Victorian England
Victorian England may have been plagued by all manner of industrial injustice and Dickensian misery, but it knew how to throw a hell of Christmas party. Scrooge and Cratchit alike will find something to share this weekend at The Christmas Revels, a festive and dramatic reenactment of nineteenth-century London at Yuletide. Since 2000, Rocky Mountain Revels has brought this holiday stage act to the Boulder Theater, and this year's twist is all Oliver. With a cast of street urchins and mill workers, as well as that old ghost Jacob Marley, Revels producers use dance and music to illustrate the Christmas customs observed by every class of the queen's subjects. The popular music-hall songs of the day -- not to mention pantomimes, street cries and children's games -- will be played by the Flagstaff Brass Quintet, the Flatirons Morris Dancers and the Whitechapel Waifs Children's Choir, all decked out in traditional costumes of the period. The focus is on that era's confluence of Christian piety and the surviving Celtic and medieval folk rituals of Britain's ancient past, wrapped up together in a pretty bow of joyous celebration.
The show opens tonight at 7 p.m. and plays again at 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. The Boulder Theater is at 2032 14th Street in Boulder; admission ranges from $10 to $30. For tickets and info, call 303-786-7030 or visit www.bouldertheater.com. -- Jason Heller
Humor in a Bubble
Bovine intervention brings big laughs
"We were trying to come up with a title for our show about the holidays, and we started thinking about snow globes," explains Eric Farone, artistic director for Bovine Metropolis Theater. "But then we realized that there's nothing funny about snow globes. But melted snow globes..." And thus was born Snow Global Warming, the 23rd original Bovine sketch-comedy show and fifth original Christmas production since the company started, in 1996. "I think we've written 160 original songs at this point," Farone says in disbelief. "That's almost Lennon-McCartney level."
Snow features ten more new tunes, including "Christmas in Alabama," a ballad about iPods, and a first-act closer that sends the cast into the crowd, shattering the fourth wall, for an improvised song about the audience -- a carry-over concept from the last Bovine production, Acme 22.
Bovine Metropolis Theater is a no-drinking, no-smoking venue, and audiences of all ages are welcome. While the humor is not necessarily family- oriented, Farone says, it's above the belt.
"You'll get more laughs with this show than any other holiday show in the city," he promises. "Plus, it's one of the cheapest. Low risk, high yield, we like to say."
What more could you want for Christmas?
Snow Global Warming starts at 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night at the theater, 1527 Champa Street; tickets are $16. Call 303-758-4722 or go to www.bovinemetropolis.com for information. --Adam Cayton-Holland