Out of the woods: Smooth as silk. Liquid gold. These are just two of the ways one might describe the facile voice of Kevin Mahogany, the male jazz vocalist generally named these days by those in the know as the Joe Williams or Billy Eckstine of his generation. While Mahogany doesn't mind the comparisons, don't think his talent is mired in a time warp. His beautiful, smoky, bubbling vocals work as well on James Carr's soul ballad "The Dark End of the Street" as they do on a straightahead "West Coast Blues" lifted note for note out of the improvisations of Wes Montgomery. Hear Mahogany at 7:15 tonight among the flowers of the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St.; for tickets, $19 ($16 DBG members), call 777-3836.
You can go Holmes again: Students of Sherlockian lore have never been able to agree on whether or not the Baker Street sleuth survived his spat with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. So some might be surprised to find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary character resurrected in Minnesota three years later, hunting down a wily North Woods arsonist. Wherever you stand in the fray, it's always nice to have a new Holmes adventure to crack open. That's reason enough to visit Boulder's Rue Morgue Mystery Bookshop tonight at 7:30 when St. Paul architecture journalist Larry Millett shows up to sign copies of his brand-new Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, a painstakingly researched and footnoted Holmes sequel that mixes fact, fiction and history to a properly suspenseful end. The Rue Morgue is located at 946 Pearl St.; call 443-8346.
She's a grand old state: Raise your hand if you're a native. Okay, then, raise your hand if you've been in the state longer than ten years. That's better. Now, don't neglect to show your appreciation. Celebrate Colorado Day, which marks the state's 121st anniversary, today from 10 to 1 right at ground zero--Ninth Street Park at Auraria, near Denver's birthplace at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River. Times have changed and so has the landscape, but festivities taking place there will do their darnedest to turn back the clock: A period infantry encampment and fashion show, vintage ballplayers, film clips depicting early Denver and tours led by local history maven Tom Noel will all help lend old-time ambience to the modern-day event. Throw in some speechifying by local dignitaries and you've got a Colorado Day to remember. For information call 866-5299.
Summer camp: CORE New Art Space promises to be encrusted in so many rhinestones this weekend, you'll have to wear sunglasses just to walk into the place. The cooperative gallery will turn itself into Graceland West with the opening of The King: a show commemorating the 20th anniversary of a major pop cultural icon who is so powerful even in death that we dare not use his name, likeness or image in promoting this show (Well...we're not allowed to), a self-explanatory show and accompanying mail-art extravaganza that will put the swivel back into your hips. The exhibition--opening tonight with a 7-to-midnight reception-cum-revival featuring a blessing by the Reverend Mort Farndu of the First Presleyterian Church, performances by entertainer Shelvis, public balloting for the Mail to the King best-of-show award and a you-know-who look-alike costume contest--hangs through August 17. Donations of non-perishable food items for the Rocky Mountain Food Bank will be accepted during tonight's opening (as well as at a rockin' impersonator contest tomorrow from 2 to 6); for details call 571-4831.
As if the return of Elvis weren't already the ultimate American sick joke, you might finish out the evening by giving in to your basest instincts. At Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, opening at midnight at the Bluebird Theater, you won't have to worry about offending anyone, because you'll be in good (make that bad) company. The outwardly disgusting cartoon fest--perhaps best known as the cabbage plant under which Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-head were first found--features such unforgettable animated characters as The Happy Moose (actual Raging Bull Jake LaMotta provides the voice), Tie Dye Dick and Big, Dumb, Fat, Stupid Baby and screens this weekend and next at the Bluebird, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. A totally tasteless party, which includes festival mascot Scotty the Shredding Wonder Dog, accompanies the on-screen debaucheries; for information or tickets, $7, call 322-2308. Needless to say, you must be eighteen or older to attend.
Pump it up: Ours is a society of thrill-seekers, it seems--or, on the flip side, a culture of caffeine burnouts. But, at risk of sounding too hippy-dippy holistic, there are effective ways to bypass Starbucks and still achieve the ever-elusive natural high. Nothing gets the adrenaline going better than speedy music, and this weekend, there's plenty of it to go around.
A mandolin wind hits the town of Lyons this afternoon at 3 when RockyGrass (otherwise known as the Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival) gets under way, once again gathering together some of the biggest names in the hoedown business for three days of wind-blown, high-lonesome quick-pickin' fun. Headliners during the weekend include the Del McCoury Band, Richard Greene, Tim O'Brien, banjo-plucking old-timer Ralph Stanley and David Grisman; superpickers coming together to jam each night through Sunday include Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Vassar Clements and Peter Rowan. That's an earful. Daily admission is $25 to $30, or buy a three-day pass for $65. Call 624-2422.
Ska, surely the most upbeat revival going, is showcased tonight by the Moonstomp II Tour, organized by ska label Moon Records and pogo-jumping into the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., at 8. Label-mates Isaac Green and the Skalars, Spring Heeled Jack, and Skavoovie and the Epitones will provide an evening full of jumpy, horn-punctuated dance music; for tickets, $8, call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Walk with the animals: The problem with a 5K run raising funds for the zoo? The zoo's most avid constituency is still too young to run all those kilometers. Time for a change? You bet: What used to be a run has transmogrified this year into Walk on the WildSide--a gentle, two-mile amble that moves at a pace friendly to all participants. People of all ages and fitness levels can take part in the 8 a.m. non-competitive promenade, which will cover ground in the zoo and adjoining City Park; afterward, there'll be live music, refreshments and other fun stuff at the City Park Bandshell. Race-day entry fees are $12 for adults ($8 for children ages four to twelve and seniors age 62 and older; children under four free); register at the zoo's main entrance beginning at 7.
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All read up: A jug of lemonade, a shady tree and thou--how many of you remember what it was like to spend the summer curled up on the grass with a good book and all the time in the world? Plenty of kids around the metro area have been doing just that while participating in the Denver Public Library's Hot Diggity Dog! summer reading program, which ends this week. To celebrate (and what better thing is there to celebrate than a kid with his or her nose stuck in a book?), the DPL is throwing a storytelling party featuring yarn-spinners Elizabeth Ellis and Christopher Maier and Los Ninos Cantores Mexican Dance Troupe and Mariachis. Kids and parents can attend the fest, which goes from 5:30 to 7:30 tonight in Civic Center Park, for free; call 640-6384 for details.
Back in the saddle: We want our E-Town, and we want it now. After a summertime lull, the local public-radio show is once again in production at the Boulder Theater. And even though the heat is still on, you can count on the E-folks to put on a good show: Tonight's eclectic guests include Irish folkie Maura O'Connell and Argentine guitarist Enrique Coria, who receives help from mandolinist extraordinaire David Grisman and flutist Matt Eakle. Together and apart, they'll make beautiful music beginning at 8. The Boulder Theater is located at 2030 14th St., Boulder; tickets are $9 in advance ($11 day of show). Call 786-7030 for additional information.
Come together: Here's something to bring out the neighbor in you--it's National Night Out, an annual crime- and drug-prevention event during which people are urged to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and hang with rest of the 'hood for a block party, picnic, flashlight walk or rally. Or all of the above. Though there is no unifying local force behind the event, numerous gatherings will take place; grassroots organizers suggest calling your neighborhood organization or police station to find out if anything specific is planned for your area. Better yet, do it your way: Take the initiative and organize the neighborhood yourself.
Follow your art: If you think summer is the season when you have to continually plan round-the-clock activities for bored kids on vacation from school, think again. Maybe it's you who needs to get out of the house. A quick and easy fix can be had this month during the Art Students League of Denver Summer Samplers, a series of one-day fine-art workshops designed to introduce weekend artists to the variety and scope of ongoing courses that are offered year-round at the league's south Denver facility. Upcoming samplers, taught throughout August by respected local artists, include various sculpture and painting styles and media. Pay $60 per class ($30 ASL members) or sign up for a block of four classes for just $130 ($100 members). For information and a class schedule, call 778-6990.