Put this in your bagpipe and smoke it: Celts from everywhere will be flipping their kilts for the Longs Peak Scottish Highland Festival in Estes Park, a four-day extravaganza of all things Celtic. Live music, a jousting tournament, a dog show and a dance competition are just a few of the events planned for the fest, but the thundering pipe-band pageantry promised daily, as well as the kick-up-yer-heels Ceilidh (that's Scottish for "party down," dudes) planned for Friday and Saturday nights, may be your main reasons for attending. The celebration gets off to a rousing start tonight at 7:30 at Stanley Park Fairgrounds, where a traditional tattoo (or parade) features pipe bands galore, hailing from around the globe; day-long events and evening parties and concerts continue through Sunday at the fairgrounds and other Estes Park locations. Purchase tickets separately for individual events or in inclusive admission packages; for information call 1-970-586-6308 or 1-800-90-ESTES. Meanwhile, to get you in the mood or to satisfy your Celtic pangs, master fiddler Alasdair Fraser, en route to Estes Park, will perform at 7:30 this evening with cellist Abby Newton and Celtic harpist Kim Robertson at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Tickets are $13 in advance ($15 day of show); call 545-8371 or 652-3306.
Artwork of champions: Writers doodle--we think it helps them think. In the case of novelist, cult figure and thinker Kurt Vonnegut, the doodling has turned into a pleasant avocation: In 1993, Vonnegut began a series of silk screens, including self-portraits, still lifes and caricatures, assisted by artist Joe Petro III. The 24 resulting silkscreens, along with a pair of portfolios and a sculpture, will be exhibited for two weeks, beginning tonight, at the 1/1 Gallery, 1715 Wazee St.; Vonnegut will be in attendance at the opening reception, 6 to 9 p.m. The author returns to the gallery tomorrow from noon to 4 for a book signing sponsored by the Tattered Cover Book Store and will then move around the corner to the Wynkoop Brewing Company, 1634 18th St., to preside and read a short story off the label when Kurt's Mile High Lager, a new addition to the Wynkoop's Literary Lager series, is tapped for tasting at 6. The 1/1 show continues through September 18; call 298-9284. On a more serious note, an exhibit of selected works by New York minimalist Mary Obering makes its way into Rule Modern and Contemporary, 111 Broadway, for a month-long stay. A contemporary of trendsetters Donald Judd and Carl Andre, with artistic roots at the University of Denver, Obering forms controlled, abstract color fields from Renaissance-age materials such as burnished clay, encaustic egg tempera and gold leaf on gessoed masonite, with cool, polished results. A reception will be held tonight from 6 to 9; the show hangs through October 6. Call 777-9473.
Get back, Jackson: An inveterate favorite at Red Rocks, Jackson Browne is the pop singer/songwriter upon whom many have modeled themselves, though few have managed to search their souls--and the conscience of America--with as even or literate a hand. Browne, who never breezes through his shows, returns to the Rocks tonight for an evening of equal parts Southern California-style rock and intimate, balladic poetry. Another genre idol for mature listeners, folk chanteuse Shawn Colvin, opens the show at 7:30 p.m.; for tickets, $25, call 830-TIXS.
Sweet Victorians: Some of Denver's finest remaining Victorian structures will adopt an open-door policy today and tomorrow during A Visit to Capitol Hill: The Wyman District, this year's Historic Denver house tour. The seven private dwellings and pair of bed-and-breakfast inns featured, located in the area north of Cheesman Park on Gilpin and Race streets, are open to visitors from 10 to 4 today and noon to 4 Sunday. Historic Denver guides of the area and a commemorative poster by Denver watercolorist Barbara Froula also will be available for sale at the Castle Marne, a formidable and eclectic stone-faced tour stop at 1572 Race St. Get your poster signed by Froula from noon to 2 today or your book signed by author Diane Wilk and photographer Cindy Herrick at the same times Sunday. Purchase tickets, $12 ($8 seniors and Historic Denver members), in advance at selected King Soopers stores, the Molly Brown House Museum or by calling 296-9887; tickets are also available on tour days at 1405 E. 12th Ave., 1401 Gilpin St., 1321 Race St. or the Castle Marne.
Experimental tourists: Whoa, stuck-in-the-muds: Here are two ways to get yourselves moving in a new direction, quick. For a musical jump-start, check out the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art's innovative Perforum Series, this month featuring the doctored sounds of Instrument Panel, a local quartet working in the avant-garde traditions of Cage, Stockhausen and Xenakis by utilizing "prepared" instruments and improvisational, rather than strictly notational, elements. Instrument Panel appears at 8 in the museum's upstairs performance space, 1750 13th St., Boulder; admission is $8 ($7 students, $5 BMoCA members). Call 443-2122. Also tonight at the Bug Performance and Media Center, 3654 Navajo St., multimedia trio Jafrika and poetry performance collective Open Rangers join forces, intertwining spoken word, theater, comedy, dance and music for Random Axe of Rhyme, a collaborative, spontaneous arts showcase for bright local talent. Random Axe premiers tonight at 7:30 and will continue the first Saturday of each month at the Bug; for information or tickets, $8 ($6 members), call 477-5977.
The plots thicken: Any gardener worth his or her patch of dirt can tell you that fall is a busy time: Perennials await division, flower beds beg for a thorough cleanup and collectible seeds drop to the ground. It's also the season to begin visualizing next year's backyard Eden. In that spirit, you'll want to get up off your knees long enough to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens Fall Gardening Fair, a weekend of informational workshops, demonstrations, children's programs and a spate of individualized garden tours zeroing in on specific garden types. Attend the fair from 10 to 5 daily, today and tomorrow; events are free with the DBG's $4 gate admission ($2 seniors and children six to fifteen). The gardens are located at 1005 York St.; call 370-8187 for additional information.
Step by step: Few pledge-walk events command a higher profile than the annual AIDS Walk Colorado, a massive 10K trudge benefiting a long list of HIV/AIDS service and education organizations in Colorado. More than 7,500 walkers marched out of Cheesman Park last year, raising more than $1 million in donations. This year's walkathon begins again in Cheesman Park at 10 a.m.; teams and individuals are asked to recruit co-workers, friends and family members as sponsors. Various prizes, from T-shirts for those raising $125 or more to wristwatches for those raising $400 or more, will be awarded. Be sure to wear your most comfortable walking shoes; for more information call 861-WALK.
Hora show: You don't have to be Jewish to like knishes, bagels, rye bread, garlic-drenched salamis or the Jewish Community Festival, an arms-open cultural event welcoming both the authentic and the wannabes, featuring arts and crafts, Mom's Jewish cooking, live music and dance and hands-on fun for kids. Taking place today at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St., the festival also offers an expo of resources for Denver's Jewish community, including information about synagogues, support agencies and organizations. To volunteer or receive exhibitor or ticket information call 399-2660, ext. 169.
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Young at heart: While other formative rock stars grow old and grizzled and out-of-touch, Neil Young grows old and grizzled. But Young--known to young audiences as the father of grunge and to old ones as the dark, creative aura that roughed up the treacly edges of the Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash--remains a wellspring of raw, powerful music that somehow crosses the generation gap gracefully, always retaining an unpolluted, iconoclastic energy. Young appears tonight at Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., with his perennial and essential band, Crazy Horse; Sponge and the chiming Gin Blossoms open the concert at 6:30. Admission is $20 for lawn seating and $25 reserved; call 830-TIXS.
Krysl clear: The Tattered Cover Book Store's Monday Night Poetry Series tonight honors a local celeb of sorts. Marilyn Krysl, director of CU-Boulder's creative writing program, takes the podium to read from her book Soulskin. Krysl, who has won various awards and grants for her work, reads at 7:30 on the lower level of the Tattered Cover, 2955 E. 1st Ave. Lend an appreciative ear. For details call 322-7727.
Round and round it goes: In February 1994 thousands of people filed through the Denver Art Museum to watch a group of Tibetan monks painstakingly create a colorful and precise Tibetan Sand Mandala that was eventually dismantled and poured into the Platte River during a well-attended peace ceremony. Now, a new group of monks is moving in for a similar project, although this time, the completed mandala--a circular symbolic meditation aid five feet in diameter and composed of microscopic specks of brightly colored sand--will be preserved as part of the museum's fine Asian art collection. Three holy men from the Seraje Monastery in southern India will assemble the shimmering mandala, a cousin of Native American sand paintings, beginning today and continuing through September 22. View the artists at work in the museum's Bach Wing from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., noon to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or noon to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The DAM is located at 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.; call 640-4433.
Juju man: Fans of Nigeria's upbeat juju music already know guitar heroes King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey--now they'll have to make way for Sir Shina Peters, a young contender who pours on a glossy, percussive beat as thick as gravy, with help from a 22-piece orchestra. When Peters hits the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., tonight, it's certain to be standing room only--after all, who in their right mind could take Sir Shina sitting down? Tickets are $10; for details call 294-9281.