Them's fightin' words: At the Bug, Denver's peerless, hole-in-the-wall avant-garde film and performance center, the talk is anything but idle. Instead, Adversity and Diversity: The Bug History Talks, a new lecture series that debuts this evening, will provide provocative fuel for serious thinkers. CU-Boulder instructor and archivist David M. Hays speaks tonight at 7:30 on Racial and Ethnic Stereotypes; Fear and Fascination, a controversial exhibit of stereotypical images from American history and popular culture that he helped develop and curate--to mixed reviews. Though the intent of the exhibition is to expose rather than support, the often negative ethnic images have left some viewers feeling more offended than enlightened. Hear Hays explain his motives and then judge for yourself: The show will be on display at the Bug, 3654 Navajo St., through August, complete with response forms for your comments. Lecture admission is $4; call 477-5977 for details.
Double happiness: Have it your way--tonight at the Bluebird Theater, there's smooth jazz at 7 and a late show of frantic surf rock at 10. Early on, dazzling guitarist Stanley Jordan does the one-man-band thing, single-handedly (actually, they say Jordan uses two hands, though he's been known to play two guitars at the same time) layering his own walking bass lines, chordal accompaniment and technically precise leads without help from a solitary soul. Seeing is believing; tickets are $18. Later on, instrumental rockers Los Straitjackets jump on stage, wearing Mexican wrestling masks and holding tongues firmly in cheeks, to twist the Dick Dale/Link Ray surf genre into a whole new bag of musical tricks. Admission is $5. For information or tickets to either show call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
Get downtown: The best thing about the AT&T LoDo Music Festival is its downright urbane diversity, set in a fitting downtown environment--right on the ancient pavement of Wynkoop Street, in the heart and soul of Lower Downtown. The two-day fest, now in its fourth year, brings together blues, funk and R&B artists, alternative and folk rockers, worldbeat groups and just about anything else you could possibly think of, along with plenty of good eats and drink provided by LoDo restaurateurs, from 4 to 11 today and 3 to 11 tomorrow. Tonight's lineup features New Orleans legend Dr. John, former JB Horns saxophonist Maceo Parker, the smoking big band Roomful of Blues, and Golden Smog--a round-robin supergroup that includes members of Soul Asylum, Wilco and the Jayhawks--at the top of the heap; tomorrow's headliners include, among others, South Africa's Johnny Clegg and Juluka, folkie grande dame Joan Baez, bluesman Luther Allison and the funky Average White Band, direct from the '70s. Tickets to downtown's biggest block party are $18 daily or $30 for an all-inclusive pass; call 830-TIXS or 888-5636.
Wherefore art thou? Whether you're a LoDo fest-goer in need of a time-out or just looking for a safe place to schmooze, don't forget it's also First Friday in LoDo, when the area's thriving community of galleries jointly hold new-show receptions and open houses between 6 and 9 p.m. And just because these are the dead-dog days of summer, it doesn't mean there's nothing going on in LoDo salons. At 1/1 Gallery, 1715 Wazee, the two-man show Professors Emeritus opens, spotlighting drawings and mixed-media works on paper by the late CSU graphic artist/instructor John Sorbie and computer-generated compositions reinterpreted in oils by CU professor emeritus Luis Eades; the show continues through September 3. And the Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee, offers a fresh group retrospective, Current: Recent Works by Gallery Artists, opening tonight and remaining on view through September 14, while the Metro State Center for the Visual Arts, 1701 Wazee, celebrates contemporary fiber arts with The Artist and the Quilt '96, today through August 28. A map of other galleries included on the self-guided tour is available at these and other downtown art venues; for more information call 820-3139.
Shot to kill: Anyone in Hollywood will tell you it's a melting pot out there: The Japanese and the Italians copied from American Westerns, the Americans remade tart French comedies, and everyone wants a piece of those elegant British period pieces. It's hardly a surprise, then, that Quentin Tarantino derived flickering inspiration for his own Reservoir Dogs from City on Fire, a Chinese action film that, by the way, owes something to the classic gangster flicks of old. Chow Yun-Fat stars in the thriller, this weekend's Orient Express series offering at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway. Shows are at midnight tonight and tomorrow, with additional matinee screenings on Saturday and Sunday; for showtimes call 744-6796.
Newt music: Shaken, not stirred, is one way of describing the eclectic, adventurous, sit-up-in-your-seat-and-listen music of Happy Lizard, a genre-hopping local trio expanded to a quintet and guesting tonight at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's unconventional Perforum Series. The core group of experimental guitarist Rick Cummings, vocalist/keyboardist Leslie Stevens and percussionist Ernie Crews will be joined by Glenn Nitta on sax and Miguel Ramos on viola tonight at 8; tickets are $8 ($7 students, $5 museum members). BMoCA is located at 1750 13th St., Boulder; for information call 443-2122.
Praise be: The Chautauqua Auditorium's appropriately pastoral, barn-like atmosphere will be transformed into an old-fashioned, foot-stomping revival meeting during the annual Gospel Extravaganza tonight at 8. A cappella masters The Persuasions--known for their classic doo-wop ballads and up-tempo devotionals--top the evening's harmony-heavy bill; the Heavenly Echoes and Second Baptist Choirs, both local groups, amply help them praise the Lord, along with emotional emcee Madame Andrews, broadcast hostess of KGNU-FM's Gospel Chime Hour. Admission ranges from $13 to $18, and it'll be worth every soul-saving penny. Chautauqua is located at 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS for ticket reservations.
The sun also rises: Where have all the cherry blossoms gone? Admittedly late this year, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, Denver's premier Japanese cultural celebration traditionally held in the spring, has a history of bad weather. Hence the move to kinder August, when the sunny skies conducive to good times are far more common. In spite of the lost focus of the festival's ephemeral title flora, the unseasonable show will go on, bigger and better, today and tomorrow at Sakura Square, on Lawrence St. between 19th and 20th streets. With luck, the sun will shine on the festival's athletic taiko drummers, black-belted martial artists and kimono-clad dancers, who perform on outdoor stages between 11 and 6 daily. The food, a heaping feast of grilled, marinated chicken dishes, noodles, sushi, sweet-bean treats, sake and cold Japanese beer served up by little kids, moms, dads and honorable grandmas and grandpas, is not to be missed; in addition, a colorful festival dance will be held tonight from 7 to 9. Admission to all entertainment and demonstrations is free; call 295-1844.
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Rhyme and reason: Here's the story: Tall tales, traditional yarns and rustic rhymes take the stage today at a pair of telling events. Start your day at the Plowboy Poetry Gathering, a pleasantly bucolic poetry and story session taking place at the Adams County Fairgrounds, 9601 Henderson Rd., Brighton, in conjunction with this weekend's Adams County Fair. Continental brunch will be served at 10 a.m., followed by agricultural versifying by area farm folks; stick around later for the usual fair fare of carnival rides, rodeo shows and livestock exhibits galore. Admission to the poetry event is free, but advance reservations are required; call 659-7103. The action switches to Denver's Civic Center Park, 14th and Acoma, for the Denver Public Library's annual Tales Told Under the Cottonwoods storytelling festival, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Featuring Southern Ute yarn-spinner Bertha Grove, aka Red Earth Woman, Western mythologist Barbara McBride-Smith, talkative host Bill Amundson and music and dance with the Hoofin' High Country Cloggers, the free, family-oriented get-together wraps up the library's summer reading program for vacationing school kids. Students are invited to arrive early at 4:30 for craft workshops sponsored jointly by the Denver Art Museum and Colorado History Museum, also free. For additional information, call the library at 640-6375.
Piano man: Debonair pianist, band conductor and composer Peter Duchin, whose father, Eddy, was also a big-band leader of repute, has led a life most people can only dream of, performing for over three decades before dignitaries, philanthropists and matrons of high society. Now he's written a book about it, providing the rest of us with a window into his rarefied performer's world. Duchin will tickle the keys and autograph copies of Ghost of a Chance: A Memoir tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; for details call 322-7727.
Fly me to the moon: It may just be enough to find yourself face-to-face with a real live astronaut, but in this case, you might pick up on some intriguing reading, as well. Apollo 11 crewman Buzz Aldrin teamed up with sci-fi writer John Barnes to create Encounter With Tiber, a Warner Books yarn about travelers to Alpha Centauri who study the lost technology of an ancient extraterrestrial race. He'll speak about and sign copies of the book, ultimately a plea for the continuing support for space exploration, tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Numbers for a seat and a place in line will be handed out beginning at 6:30 p.m.; call 322-7727.
How's bayou? The rest of the country can't seem to get enough of that murky, mirthful, multicultural and exotic Louisiana Cajun swamp culture. So here's a pair of happenings that should have people of all ages two-stepping in the aisles: Youngsters will get a spicy taste of musical gumbo at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., where Michael and Sharon Doucet put on a family concert at 7 (Michael is the guiding light of Cajun-music traditionalists Beausoleil; Sharon is the author of a book introducing children to the music's origins and joyful grooves). Admission is $11 ($9 DBG members); call 777-3836 to reserve tickets. Summer readers, on the other hand, will be jumping for joy over the recent publication of James Lee Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux mystery, Cadillac Jukebox, in which the best-selling New Iberia detective again tangles with the bad guys in his beloved Louisiana bayous. Burke will read from the new potboiler tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; arrive at 6:30 to get your number for a place in line. Call 322-7727.