National AIDS Awareness Day was December 1, but a Denver gallery is continuing its NAAD fundraising efforts through this month. Abend Gallery Fine Arts is serving as the agent for the late Mel Carter, a Denver artist who was active in the local fight against AIDS. Abend is donating 10 percent of all December sales from Carter's paintings to Project Angel Heart, a local nonprofit that provides meals to shut-ins with AIDS. The gallery is also donating the $15 cost of a commemorative Carter poster to the project. Abend is located at 899 Broadway, Ste. 200, and is open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more info call 303-572-3081.
For more than 45 years, vocalist and harmonica ace Bobby Rush has been a favorite on the "chitlin circuit" of his native South, where his blend of blues, funk and soul are welcome in juke joints and upper-crust clubs alike. Over the past few years he's received hearty praise from around the globe as well, including this year's Living Blues magazine's Best Live Performer award, a prize he's won three times since 1995. The secret to his in-the-flesh appeal? A saucy live show packed with double entendres and anthems like "Buttermilk Bottom," "Big Fat Woman" and other politically correct numbers. Rush hits the stage tonight at the Casino, 2637 Welton St. Tickets are $25, and the doors open at 8; call 303-292-2626 for details.
Since 1868, the Denver Turnverein organization has served as a sponsor for all things German in the area, hosting Rhineland-friendly activities for generations of members and supporters. In recent times the Turnverein has become a more cross-cultural gathering, with tango classes, fencing competitions and various musical events. Tonight this trend continues with a soiree hosted by the Alpine Winds. A splinter group of the Denver Concert Band, this woodwinds-and-brass outfit specializes in polkas, waltzes and a dash of Dixieland, all of which they'll perform in the vintage glory of the Turnverein ballroom at 1570 Clarkson St. The event is open to the public; tickets are $7, and the fun starts at 7:30. Call 303-831-9717.
Tonight the Mackey Gallery, 2900 W. 25th Ave., presents Seven, a multi-media exhibition featuring the work of seven Colorado artists. The roster of professionals includes Carole Sharpe (glass portraits and mosaics), Carolyn Counnas (experimental monoprints) and Boulder artist Julie Maren (narrative paintings and stone sculpture). The evening's opening reception runs from 6 to 9; the exhibit stays on display through January 2. For more information, call 303-477-4097.
If the sound of a router ripping through timber is music to your ears, this is your lucky weekend. Today through Sunday, the Colorado Woodworking Show returns to Denver for three days of log-turning excitement and education. The show includes something for all levels of woodworker, from at-home amateurs to professional builders. Daily sessions include a number of freebie seminars covering topics such as furniture-making, tuning up a hand plane and "power carving." Tim Allen types will appreciate the wealth of tool demos and product displays. The show takes place at the Denver Merchandise Mart, 451 E. 58th Ave. Admission is $7 for adults, but craftsmen ages twelve and under are admitted free. Some seminars require additional sign-up fees. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For details and a schedule of classes, call 1-800-826-8257.
Today is day two of the city's biggest holiday event, the Parade of Lights. Now in its 24th year, the annual parade of balloons, music and holiday pomp is the main attraction of Front Range Christmastime festivities, and this year's model will feature some new thrills. Balloon buffs will beam at a number of new floating creations, including Raggedy Ann and Andy. There's also a pair of new Dr. Seuss characters: Horton, of Horton Hears a Who fame, and a new sixty-foot helium-filled rendition of the Cat in the Hat. There will also be fresh floats and new music and marching bands. The parade takes place Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. on the streets of downtown Denver; seats in the V.I.P. Grandstand (at 14th and Bannock streets) are $12 for adults and $8 for children ages four to twelve. Of course, gazing from the curb at your spot of choice is free and may just be the best way to take in this family-style winter spectacle. For more details call 303-478-7878.
If you're still craving some December tradition, tonight Youth Ballet Colorado presents its take on The Nutcracker, the perennial favorite based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann and scored by Tchaikovsky in 1855. The show will be performed by the soon-to-be pros who make up the YBC troupe. Based in Broomfield, this nonprofit organization offers pre-professional training programs to burgeoning dancers in the twelve- to eighteen-year-old bracket, along with less advanced classes for twirlers from age three to adult. This is YBC's sixth rendition of the holiday classic, and it's a trad version that should appeal to classical-dance newcomers as well as the more informed balletomane. Tonight's performance starts at 7 at the Ranum Auditorium, 2401 W. 80th Ave., Broomfield; there's also a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets to both shows are $10-$13; call 303-466-5685.
But if you need a break from the holiday action, set yourself down in the comfort of the Denver Museum's IMAX Theater for a gratis showing of Mark Twain's America. Today and tomorrow the museum will be conducting a test screening of the film, which chronicles the growth of the nation in the pointed prose of the creator of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Your cost to attend this celebration of paddleboats, steam engines and America's past is a just few moments' time, in which you'll answer a short questionnaire from the film's presenters. Doors open at 9 each morning, and the show starts at 9:30. The theater is on the grounds of the Denver Museum of Natural History, 2001 Colorado Blvd. Call 303-322-7009 for additional information.
Rebels with a cause: The roar of Broncomaniacs in Mile High Stadium pales compared to the thunder of the Rocky Mountain Harley Owners Group and its annual Toy Run to Children's Hospital. Each year this perception-shattering biker roundup touches the hearts and ears of youngsters under doctors' care as the parade's 400-plus leather-clad riders roll in with decibels and presents. The 1998 gift ride takes place today, and this year the HOGs are inviting riders of all makes and models to join in on the goodwill, auto drivers included. In addition to gifts for young patients, the Toy Run provides money for the hospital's trademark red-wagon gurneys, along with funds for cable television, computers, VCRs and videotapes for its beneficiaries. Witnessing the arrival of this unique procession of two-wheelin' elves is an unforgettable holiday moment. The train leaves from Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson, 4204 S. Broadway in Englewood, at 10 a.m. If you'd like to join the procession, call the RMHOG at 303-841-2474.
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For lovers of bourbon-blessed country music, the Mile High City can do no better than the legendary Denver Joe. Joe has thrilled a cult following of C&W fiends for years at his every-other-Monday slot at the Cricket on the Hill, and tonight he launches a month of every-week engagements that will please lovers of Hank, Waylon, Willie and Buck. Sure, Joe's intake of Jack Daniel's may keep him from finishing any of his classic covers and pointed originals, but it won't keep him and his stellar trio from making you a little misty along the way. If his credo of "drink up and be somebody" strikes a chord with you, join the faithful tonight at the Cricket, 1209 E. 13th St. Twanging starts at 9:30, and the price is a mere $3. Call 303-830-9020.
If this time of year seems more about maintaining your sanity than spreading goodwill toward mankind, Elaine St. James may be able to help you. Tonight this leader of the simplicity movement (who counts Oprah Winfrey among her followers) will discuss her new self-help read, Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays. Sure, the title's a mouthful, but if it delivers on its promise, it's worth its weight in ibuprofen. St. James speaks at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. First Ave. in Cherry Creek. Call 303-322-7727 for details.
The Denver Botanic Gardens is growing into the spirit of the season by giving away a night among the flora to area senior citizens. Tonight from 6 to 9, members of the 65-and-up set can enter Denver's garden oasis for free, where they can take in the Blossoms of Light electricity-and-greenery extravaganza that's now up and running. The display features countless lighted sculptures and illuminated topiaries spread out around the DBG grounds. The newly opened Tropical Botanica also gets the Christmas-tree treatment, with ten miles of fiber optics woven throughout its rainforest finery. The event also includes free refreshments for the first 5,000 attendees, carolers and musical groups, as well as access to the inventory of green-thumbed options in the DBG gift shop. The gardens are located at 909 York St; call 303-331-4000.
Project Self Discovery is an outreach program for Denver inner-city youth funded by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. PSD offers cultural opportunities for trouble-bound children in the city's tougher neighborhoods. Tonight these aspiring artists present their work in Ghetto Fabulous, a diverse showcase featuring poetry, music, dance and photography from the group's members. You're invited to attend and applaud their accomplishments. The evening begins at 6:30 at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre, 119 Park Ave. West; call 303-830-8500 for details.