Aurora Borealis

A freewheeling new festival celebrates black art.

SAT, 8/13

Attempting to promote diversity and raise funds for the non-profit educational art program Destination: Artistic Activism, local poet Day Acoli has launched the first-ever Aurora Black Arts Festival. This lively benefit, beginning today at 10 a.m. and running through 7 p.m. tomorrow at Fletcher Plaza, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, promises a moveable feast of Afrocentric music, spoken-word performers, sidewalk artists, break dancers, comedy and food.

"We all remember when the Denver Black Arts Festival used to get 200,000 people out to City Park," Acoli says. "It doesn't do that anymore. But rather than complain, we decided to put an alternative together. Next year, we'd actually like to have the festival during Juneteenth."

Until then, revelers can enjoy performances by Paradox, Future Jazz Project, Spellbinder, the Break Mechanics and El Negro, the African Aztec. In addition to an outdoor screening of Coach Carter, the festival will showcase a pair of theatrical romps, including Sharon Butler's debut of She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not.

"We're also billing Black Woman Love as a hip-hop burlesque love story," Acoli notes. "It deals with identity, self-love and what it means to be a woman of color. It is not a man-bashing show at all."

Admission is free, but a donation of $5 is suggested for certain indoor performances; each evening's play at the Aurora Fox Theater is $10. For a full schedule and more information, call 757-753-7441 or visit www.dayacoli. com/blackartsfestival. -- John La Briola

Salsa and the City
SUN, 8/14

One of salsa's progenitors, Jaime "Jimmy" Sabater, hits the Boulder Reservoir today, headlining the Denver Salsa Society's 2005 Puerto Rican Summer Fest. Sabater has worked with everyone from Tito Puente to the Fania All-Stars to Eddie Palmieri, but most people will recognize him for "Bang Bang," the current Burger King jingle. He was part of the bugalu -- or boogaloo -- craze in the 1960s, a fusion of Latin rhythm and R&B, and played with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra on the 2002 album Un Gran Día en el Barrio. Talk about burning up the dance floor! After the Boulder gig, which goes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sabater is heading for Spain, France and Holland. "Those people just love salsa music," he says. Hey, so do we! For information and tickets, $5, call 303-668-7044. -- Sherryl N. Weston

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Music comes to life at Olinger.
SUN, 8/14

In a particularly poignant episode of Northern Exposure, the character Ed Chigliak -- you remember Ed: longish black hair, made films, quiet -- purchases a piece of land where he intends to be buried. The mere act fills him with dread, and he spends almost the entire forty minutes dwelling on the meaning of life and death. He experiences a cathartic revelation, natch, and in the closing moments, the music reaches a crescendo as Ed dances poetically on his grave.

There may not be much grave-dancing this Sunday at the Olinger Crown Hill's Summer Reflections Concert, but until you embark on your own metaphysical journey, it's about the closest you'll get. Beginning at 4 p.m., Jazz Trio will play a free concert of contemporary mainstream jazz at the cemetery's Chapel of Peace. The free concerts were a tradition that began in 1939 but eventually fell out of fashion; Olinger has revived them as a way to share music with the community -- and you don't even have to purchase a plot. Crown Hill is at 7777 West 29th Avenue in Wheat Ridge; for details, call 303-233-4611. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Get Your Chlorophyll
Denver Urban Gardens keeps sprouting.
SAT, 8/13

When I first moved to Capitol Hill after escaping the concrete and fiberglass confines of Northglenn High School in 1990, no amount of urbanity startled me more than the vibrant garden on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Emerson Street. Every weekend, people would preen that patch of earth, cast adrift on a grassy life raft in the midst of an ocean of brick. And I thought to myself, "Who the hell arethese people?"

I eventually learned that they were members of DUG, or Denver Urban Gardens, a non-profit organization that's been crossbreeding chlorophyll and community since 1985. The Emerson Garden, as it's officially called, has been around for thirty years, and although dozens of DUG plots dot the metro area, it's the only such oasis on the Hill. To raise funds and celebrate the collective's twentieth anniversary, DUG is hosting Down Home, an outdoor bash at Gove Garden, located at 1325 Colorado Boulevard. In addition to dinner and cocktails, party-goers will be treated to live poetry and music -- and, of course, a bumper crop of the community spirit that DUG continues to germinate. No matter how gentrified Denver's urban areas have become, they all stand to benefit from being DUG up. The festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Entrance is $80: Half covers food, drink, live music and poetry, while the rest is a tax-deductible donation. Call 303-292-9900 or visit www.dug.org for info. -- Jason Heller

 
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