Most guys discovered by Wynton Marsalis do pretty well for themselves. And Philly-born bassist Christian McBride was on his way up even before he met Marsalis at the age of fourteen: His father, Lee Smith, was a session bassist himself, whose timekeeping kept the Delfonics in the groove. Along the way, the talented young lion wowed other mentors, most notably the great bassist Ray Brown. Nowadays, it's McBride who does the mentoring for a new crop of youthful musical phenoms. The high quality of his playing is a given, though he wears the mantle quietly and with humility; it's spectacular and tasteful, and proof that he's the guy other up-and-comers want to emulate. McBride's chops will be on display tonight at 6 p.m. when he performs with his excellent band -- pianist Geoff Keezer, reed-man Ron Blake and drummer Terreon Gully -- at the Mount Vernon Country Club, 24933 Clubhouse Circle in Golden. Tickets are $16 ($41.95 includes dinner); call 303-526-0616 for reservations.
Friday, March 25
The heat will be turned up, culturally speaking, in Five Points tonight, when the monthly poetry/performance/ film gathering Cafe Nuba: It's Hot and It's Black comes back to Blackberries Ice Cream and Coffee Lounge, 710 East 26th Avenue, for another session. Feminist poet Day "Panther" Acoli, a returning Denver native who's authored a couple of books and a stage show called Black Woman Love, guests tonight in a nod to Women's History Month. Local artist and DJ Tufani Mayfield will spin the sounds while video excerpts from the upcoming Pan African Film Festival are screened. Events crank up around 8 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door; call 303-298-8188 or visit www.panafricanarts.org.
Saturday, March 26
A storied Texas songwriter beloved by only a fanatic few, Butch Hancock has been compared to Bob Dylan, yet he seems content to just be himself -- a man of many interests who happens to write and sing great songs. Hancock is also one of the fabled Flatlanders, along with longtime friends Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The trio has gained a second round of notoriety, at least in the Americana world, after it re-formed and recorded a couple of new albums over the past few years. It's a jumble of qualifications, but they're all good ones: Hear Hancock sing, sans Flatlanders, tonight at 8 p.m. at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue. Admission is $18 to $21; call 303-777-1003 or go to www.swallowhill.com.
Sunday, March 27
Buddhists, take note: Easter Sunday needn't be a lonely day. You still have time to catch the end of Celebrating Ozu, a three-week series of films by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, who, as Roger Ebert once pointed out, was long considered "too Japanese" for Western viewers despite his affinity for universal themes. His first color film, Higanbana, or Equinox Flower (1958), an Eastern-style generation-gap study enlivened by Ozu's human touch, wraps up the series with a screening at 2 p.m. today at the Starz FilmCenter, 900 Auraria Parkway. Colorado Public Radio film critic Howie Movshovitz and members of the Japan America Society of Colorado provide commentary. Tickets range from $5.50 to $8.50; call 303-595-FILM or log on to www.starzfilmcenter.com for details.
Monday, March 28
A couple of American music legends, each with a checkered history behind him, will hop onto the same Denver stage on the same night. And the lucky folks in front of that stage are in for an unforgettable concert. Transcendent, even. You're right to expect the world when wandering prophet and folk-rock icon Bob Dylan meets "poet of the common man" Merle Haggard at the Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m. Tickets, $52.75, would seem steep for most other acts, but, hey, both artists are well-known musical road-pavers, and they pack the punch of experience in their highly personalized performances. Not to mention they both have really hot bands. Call 303-830-8497 or go to www. fillmoreauditorium.com for information.
Tuesday, March 29
Best-selling Mississippi mystery writer Nevada Barr veers into Colorado when her snoopy park-ranger character, Anna Pigeon, begins work at a new post in Rocky Mountain National Park in Hard Truth, Barr's latest Pigeon yarn. The story revolves around three girls who disappear during a religious retreat and reappear under mysterious circumstances. Pigeon clashes with the religious sect as strange happenings ensue. Let Barr lead you down the plot's treacherous trail when she reads from the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue. For details, call 303-322-7727 or visit www.tatteredcover.com.
Wednesday, March 30
Think of Steve Earle as the Michael Moore of American music: In his own way, he's just as scruffy and stubborn and visionary as the activist auteur, and he covers some of the same ground as Moore in songs that ballyhoo the common man and speak out against war and Republican policy. Earle started his current U.S. tour on W's inauguration day, drawing a sellout crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina. The man hit the road on fire and hasn't run out of things to say; now it's Boulder's turn to pick up the cry. Allison Moorer, a modern country singer with a classic bent, opens tonight at 8 p.m. for Steve Earle and the Dukes at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder; for tickets, $27.50, call 303-447-0095 or log on to www.foxtheatre.com.