Travel light: At the crossroads between jazz, acoustic and new-age music, you'll find Oregon, a loose and virtuosic group that's been performing for close to thirty years. The quietly groundbreaking instrumental congress of Paul McCandless, Ralph Towner, Glen Moore and Mark Walker, Oregon gathers music and instruments from around the world into an improvisational mix not quite like any other you've heard before. Let the group take you away tonight at 7 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $16.80, call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS.
Westerners of color: Black History Month takes on a local aspect tonight in Boulder when author and scholar Quintard Taylor stops by CU's Old Main Chapel at 7:30 to discuss his new book, In Search of the Racial Frontier: African Americans in the American West, 1528-1990. In it, Taylor traces history from the early slave trade in Texas to the Watts riots and beyond; after his talk, the author will sign copies at a public reception. Admission is free; call 492-4879.
House party: Art begins in the home--at least that's the way artist Deborah Horner sees it. En Nuestra Vecindad (In Our Neighborhood), a new installation opening tonight from 7 to 10 at Edge gallery, 3658 Navajo St., brings the stuff of daily life in Denver's Highland neighborhood--residents' artifacts, objects and collectibles--into the art space, where Horner has arranged it all into a telling work of art. Also featured are recent works by Wendy Clough, computer-imaged photos by Diana Flores and Mark Bina, and mixed media by Lori Kanary; all four shows continue to hang through March 1. Call 477-7173.
Gorgeous George: The music of George Gershwin will be a highlight, if not the whole story, when the Denver Brass performs tonight at 7:30 at Augustana Lutheran Church, 5000 E. Alameda Ave. The concert, called Rhapsody in Blue after the Gershwin tour de force, will feature not only that jazz-tinged opus, but songs from the composer's Porgy and Bess, as well as show music by Jerome Kern and Leonard Bernstein. It's a fabulous way for the ensemble to introduce its recent recording, Rhapsody in Red, White and Blue. The program repeats on Sunday at 2:30 at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden; admission ranges from $6.50 to $15. For tickets to either performance, call 832-4676.
Give love a chance: It's in the air and it's all you need, though a box of chocolates and a dozen roses might help your chances on Valentine's Day. Or you can go out on the town.
Tops on the list of things to do is...hey, get married! (Or remarried, if you're in the predicament of already wearing a ring.) Interested and impulsive couples of all shapes and sizes are invited to attend a Valentine's Day Mass Wedding this afternoon at 2 at the Lumber Baron Inn, 2555 W. 37th Ave. The Reverend Gail Denton will preside over the non-denominational group wedding/vow-renewal ceremony; to avoid crowding, reservations are a must. There is no fee other than a token donation for her reverence; call 477-8205.
Slightly more adventurous but definitely along the same lines is Loveland Ski Area's Marry Me and Ski for Free event beginning today at noon at Ptarmigan's Roost cabin, high atop chair #2. Loveland likes to think of itself as the high country's lovey-dovey ground zero, but you must plan ahead by registering at any metro area J.C. Keepsake Diamond Center by February 13. That done, you'll be treated to a free lift ticket for each one purchased on the day of the event; minister Harry Heilman will call the shots at the summit. Registration is free (assuming you're capable of skiing back down the hill); call 571-5580.
Little people need love, too--and they'll get it from kiddie character Arthur the aardvark, in town to tout his heartfelt book Arthur's Valentine. Meet Arthur and have a Valentine treat today from 10 to noon at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., and from 2 to 4 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St.; call 322-7727 or 436-1070.
Romantic music always has a place on Valentine's Day, and the warm, dulcet jazz vocals of Billy Eckstine have always been qualified for the job. Shadow Theatre Company's In Search of Eckstine: A Love Story pays tribute to the singer's cushy pipes. Play footsie in the dark with your sweetie tonight at 7:30 or tomorrow at 3 at the Ralph Waldo Emerson Center, 1420 Ogden; shows continue Friday and Saturday nights through March 21. To reserve tickets, $12, call 322-2695.
For something more upbeat, try Swallow Hill's Valentine's Cajun Dance Party with The Colorado Cajun Dance Band, tonight at 8 at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St. Dance lessons for the timid begin at 7; admission ranges from $6 to $8. Call 777-1003 or 294-9281.
Finally, there's Breaking Open, a two-person musical written by and starring Lynn Grasberg and Ira Liss, who met on a blind date and ended up theatrical partners. Showtime is 7:15 tonight at the Armadillo Mexican Restaurant, 2401 15th St.; the $22 to $25 admission price includes dinner, which begins at 6. Reservations are required, and a second show will be added if needed; call 477-5880.
This is the modern world: Composer Joan Tower will be the star and the birthday girl tonight at 7 when Boulder's Modern Music Festival presents Art Music: 60th Birthday Celebration Concert with Tower in the house. Four Tower works will be performed by musicians from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and CU's College of Music; also on the bill are world-premiere pieces by CU composers Richard Toensing and John Drumheller. It all takes place in the Music Theater of the Imig Music Building on the CU-Boulder campus; for tickets, $12 ($8 students), call 449-1397, ext. 11.
A taste of honey: One of the many charms of attending an E-Town radio taping is the endless variety offered on stage week after week. Tonight's performance roster takes divergent musical routes, both of them pleasing: New York City's Klezmatics start with the traditional instrumentation and mystical essence of Yiddish klezmer music, but they're not traditionalists by any means. Their latest CD, Possessed, includes tunes from their stage score for Tony Kushner's adaptation of The Dybbuk, a guest appearance by avant-jazz organist John Medeski, and a weird paean to pot. And on a totally different note, East Coast singer/songwriter Martin Sexton, whose rough-and-tumble, blue-eyed folk and soul draws comparisons to everyone from Van Morrison to Ted Hawkins, fills the other musical spot on tonight's roster. Taping begins at 7 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder; for tickets, $9 in advance ($11 day of show), call 786-7030.
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Return of Zora: Anyone looking for something different to do on a Monday night should drop in on Radio Theatre--Live!, a monthly dramatic reading series taking place at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St. Revolving around a different theme each month, the series raises funds for local service organizations whose work relates to the subject matter. Tonight's offering, which features staged excerpts from Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, will benefit Neighborhood Cultures of Denver. Tickets to the 7 p.m. performance are $10; call 623-0534.
New York, New York: Live a little, learn a little. The Boulder Book Store offers a chance to do both when it presents this month's American Poet Greats: Down-to-Earth Talks by Poets on Poets They Like Best. Lecturer Sue Rhynhart gives New York School poet Frank O'Hara (credited with a style he called "I do this, I do that" poetry) the treatment tonight at 7:30; admission is free. The Boulder Book Store is at 1107 Pearl St. in Boulder; call 447-2074.
Go, cats, go: Wanda Jackson proved ages ago that women can rockabilly with the best of 'em. Following in her footsteps is Dallas retro queen Kim Lenz, a dressed-to-kill red-headed rocker who tools around town in a sparkling-white '62 T-Bird. Along with her band, the Jaguars, Lenz will wow the crowd tonight at 9 at 9th Avenue West, 99 W. 9th Ave., where she'll appear in conjunction with the club's regular Wednesday-night Tore Up! record hop. Admission is $5 at the door; call 455-8408 or 572-8006.