A walk on the wild side: There's not much one can say about Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed that hasn't already been said: The influential, timeless and poetic elder statesman of urban rock has seen it all, done it all, commented on it all and come through it all--better than ever, it would seem. New York City's chief street philosopher--now a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee--will appear tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; for tickets, $25, call 830-TIXS. From across the Hudson come New Jersey's Fugees, a brave trio of socially conscious rappers, two of them Haitian natives, who eschew the boastful, posturing wing of their more hardcore gangsta brethren. A triple bill including Philly rappers the Roots and the Goodie Mob begins at 7 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; tickets are $21. Call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.
The fem team: Running in synch with Women's History Month (and a bit longer), The Art of Women, a juried invitational exhibition on display in the Republic Plaza lobby, features more than eighty works in a variety of media created by women from around the region and across the country. Attend the opening reception, held today from 4:30 to 6:30, or view the show during business hours or from 9 to 2 on Saturdays through May 22. Republic Plaza is at 370 17th St.; for details call 733-1868.
Broadway lullaby: Old-fashioned, laugh-out-loud, screwball comedy is back, at least for a while, during the Denver Center Theatre Company's month-long run of Room Service, a '30s Broadway classic revived in witty style. Sporting a black-and-white set harking back to the wacky, sophisticated comedies of Frank Capra and Howard Hawks, the play, which takes place in a New York City hotel, plays daily except Sunday at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, through April 20. Admission is $23 to $26 for weeknights and matinees and $27 to $30 for weekend performances; call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS for reservations.
Give 'em the finger-style: What the heck is a DADGAD? Jealous guitarists will tell you it's an open tuning preferred by finger-style whizzes who are better than they are--such as Algerian-born Pierre Bensusan, one of the best. As if Bensusan's astounding instrumental technique weren't reason enough for utter exaltation, he also possesses an airy, naturally proficient vocal style that works equally well in Celtic, French, Middle Eastern and Brazilian musical realms--all of which blend magically in his stage repertoire. Bensusan hits the intimate stage of the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8; his lyrical carpet ride costs twelve bucks ($10 members). Call 777-1003.
Brave new music: People thirsting for cutting-edge music can take a swim in it this weekend when the Creative Music Works, an organization dedicated to indoctrinating Denver to the charms of the avant-garde, sponsors a pair of concerts exploring unprecedented aural avenues. An adventurous mixture of haunting Native American song and supple scatting is the trademark of Navajo Indian Mary Redhouse, a multi-octave vocalist who twists her tongue around jazz standards and traditional chants. Redhouse will be accompanied this evening only by bassist Lee Gardner; the performance begins at 8 at the Houston Fine Arts Center, Montview and Quebec. Tickets are $8 ($6 students); call 477-3081 for information. Tomorrow, CMW continues on its roll by co-producing a concert uniting multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart--a Jamaican-born musician known both for his affiliation with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (members have included composer/reedman Anthony Braxton and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams) and for his hand-built wood and bamboo flutes--with Colorado-based trumpet player Hugh Ragin, Ewart's compadre from the AACM days. Ewart and Ragin collaborate at 8 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. Admission is $10 at the door; call 722-4276 or 477-3081.
Texas toast: No one embodies the Lone Star State's unique musical synthesis--bred big and brawny like longhorn steers--better than Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, a stunning showman and virtuoso performer who seems to comfortably juggle rock, blues, country and Western swing with a flick of his little finger. Gate, a one-man band who sings, plays guitar, blows the harp and gracefully saws the fiddle, all with great zeal, appears tonight at 10 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Admission is $10 for a guaranteed treat; call 322-2308.
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Bedtime stories: Feeling chlorophyll-deficient? You'll have a chance to get your green--and red, blue, pink, purple, orange, black and white--at the Picture a Great Garden photography exhibit, on display today from 9 to 5 in Mitchell Hall at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St. The photos, snapped by shutterbugs of all ages at DBG's four planted sites, should help boost your chilly spirits, while a walk through the gardens' indoor tropical paradise is all you'll need to boost your body temperature. Afterward, cast your ballot for a people's choice award, to be given out after the show ends. Admission to the gardens is $3 ($1.50 seniors, $1 children ages six to fifteen); for details call 370-8187.
Gown with the wind: Sequins, decolletage and hot air--when they dish out the Academy Awards each year, those three items seem to emerge as the overriding reasons for watching the proceedings in the first place. God bless the Wonder Bra. Yet no awards show is more anticipated, more glamorous or more talked about when all is said and done: The next day's buzz around the water cooler invariably settles upon whose dress was slit up to here or down to there, whose cracking voice seemed most sincere and which loser's pout was best caught by the cameras. You don't want to be left out of that conversation, do you? Dress yourself up and gossip freely at the Denver Film Society's Party With Oscar, an annual event featuring a light buffet, a Predict the Oscar contest, and large-screen TVs on which one can easily discern Sharon Stone's every dimple. This year's bash is at america, a new bilevel club in the Tivoli Student Center, Auraria campus; the fun begins at 6 p.m., when partygoers mark their ballots. Admission is $35 (proceeds benefit the society's upcoming KidsFest event); call 595-FILM.
Set the table: In case you hadn't noticed, it's the first week of spring--a perfect time to buy something new for the house. And if you're looking for something that's beautifully crafted and one-of-a-kind, a pair of area galleries are offering shows this month that cater to just such a need. The Boulder Arts and Crafts Cooperative, a barn-sized salon of handmades at 1421 Pearl St. in Boulder, opened an invitational Teapot Show this week, featuring close to 100 wildly various pottery works--some functional, some altogether unfunctional. Drop in for a cup of tea; Celestial Seasonings will provide teabags to help raise funds for the Boulder Community Food Share. The show will be on display through April 24; call 443-3683. On Wazee row in Denver, the Sandy Carson Gallery, 1734 Wazee St., has a show simply called Goblets, which features some of the most delicate sculptural vessels you'll ever see. A word to the wise: Don't bring a bull along. See the exhibit through April 27; call 297-8585.
All Cleo: One of the area's most respected--and well-traveled--troupes, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble opens its 1996 home concert season following performance tours in Europe and Africa. This year's program features choreography by Robinson alumni Eleo Pomare and Kevin "Iega" Jeff, as well as Robinson's 1989 work, Blood River: A Time for Peace, set to African and Africa-inspired music and revamped following the ensemble's recent exchange with artists in that country. The spring concert premieres tonight at 6:30; performances continue daily through Sunday, March 31. For tickets and information call 295-1759 or 830-TIXS; season series tickets are also available.