A full head of hair and a softer image seem to be doing Sinead O'Connor a world of good. After a few strident public acts derailed her rising career, she's back to making music again, using only her beautiful Celtic voice. The audience should be dancing on Eire tonight when O'Connor co-headlines a bill with the Chieftains, the reigning band of Irish music, beginning at 7:30 at Red Rocks amphitheater. But the big surprise of the night might turn out to be opening act Great Big Sea, a rowdy group of lads from Newfoundland who combine traditional sea chanteys and self-penned material. For tickets, $25.50 to $30.50, call 830-TIXS.
Another stage, another culture: The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, a group that amazingly weaves traditional Yiddish music with a touch of Louisiana zydeco, opens the Sounds of Summer--Music Under the Stars outdoor series at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St. Admission to the 7 p.m. show ranges from $12 to $14; a boxed picnic dinner, $5 to $8, can also be reserved in advance. Call 321-8297.
And finally, all-American music with an elegant twist can be heard when bluegrass string-band masters Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall and Sam Bush join classical violinist Joshua Bell for a sneak preview of their new classical/Americana quartet at the Denver Botanic Gardens outdoor amphitheater, 1005 York St. The music begins at 7:15 p.m.; for tickets, $21 ($18 DBG members), call 777-3836.
So many films, so little time to see them: One of the nice things about small film festivals is that they're grouped together thematically, so you can kill several cinematic birds with one stone. Or, as the case may be, in one weekend. The Aurora Asian Film Festival, which runs through Saturday at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, 9900 E. Colfax Ave., is a prime example, providing a quick, varied and thoroughly enjoyable overview of films by Asians and Asian-Americans. Some highlights include the Filipino film In the Navel of the Sea, which screens tonight at 7; tomorrow's world premiere of Tiger Street, about the friendship between an American science teacher and a Korean martial arts master; and on closing night, Christine Choy's documentary about the rape of Nanking, In the Name of the Emperor; Oscar winner Donna Dewey's A Story of Healing; and Kelly Loves Tony, a video diary about a pair of Laotian-American teen parents-to-be. Tickets to most showings are $5 to $7; for information and reservations call 595-FILM.
It's June, when a young bird's fancy turns to home--a perfect season for the annual Birdhaus Display at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St. Anyone from a local celebrity to an architect to an artist may have had a hand in the crafting of the exhibition's inventive avian abodes, which range from "Lark Meadows Mall" to a sporty nest autographed by the Denver Broncos. The birdhouses make for a jolly show among the blossoms; see them scattered about the Gardens grounds through July 12. For more information call 370-8187.
The words "Play ball!" will take on a rich new meaning when National Vintage Base Ball Festival play begins this morning at The Field, located next to Broomfield City Hall at 120th Ave. and Main St., Broomfield. The event, a benefit for the Bal Swan Children's Center, pits a dozen regional old-time ball teams playing by the classic 1862 rule book against one another for a full day of old-fashioned fun. The teams, outfitted in period costume and versed in vintage lingo, include a pair of women's units--the Littleton Columbines and the Broomfield Resolutes; and a special crew of sports figures will tangle at 1 for an all-star celebrity game. The day ends with a reception and awards ceremony at 7 p.m.; admission is free. Call 460-8060.
Venture out of town this weekend and you just might chance upon a whole bunch of art, much of it at bargain prices. You'll find a big exhibition with a small-town heart at the Salida Art Walk, taking place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow on the streets and in the nooks and crannies of downtown Salida. Part open studio tour and part general town open house, the stroll takes in artist workspaces, cafes and coffeehouses interspersed with art of all sizes and shapes. Admission is free; for details call 1-719-539-2068 or log on to www.salidaartwalk.com.
In Colorado Springs, Native American and Hispanic arts will be in the spotlight during the annual Indian-Spanish Market, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St. You'll see marvelous folk art, furniture, weaving, leatherwork and much more at the show, along with live musicians, dancers and storytellers; ethnic foods and artist demonstrations fill out the weekend. Gate admission is $5 (children twelve and under free with adult); call 1-719-634-5583.
Nobody does Latin jazz rhythms like ebullient conga master Poncho Sanchez, a rising son in a pantheon that includes such brilliant forebears as Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria. Sanchez, backed by a top-notch dance band, brings his salsa sounds to the Arvada Center outdoor amphitheater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., tonight at 7:30; for tickets, $20 for covered seating ($14 for general-admission lawn seating), call 431-3939.
One of the biggest events of the year for the local gay community surfaces again today: PrideFest '98 is the subculture's exuberant catch-all, providing a place and time for the city's gay and lesbian denizens to express solidarity and hope for the future. A traditional parade down Colfax Avenue, from Cheesman Park to the State Capitol, kicks off the day at 10 a.m., followed by a rally at noon; the festival proper gets under way at noon in Civic Center Park with vendor and community-information booths, live music, drag shows and all manner of appropriate hoopla. For information call the PrideFest hotline: 831-6268, ext. 18.
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More than 1,500 registrants are expected in the area for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists, currently taking place through July 2 at locations across the Front Range. But if the idea of that many organ enthusiasts gathering in one place daunts you, don't let it: Only a few of the convention events--a series of eight concerts--are open to the public, and those are designed to be completely user-friendly. You can start the day today with a free 10 a.m. opening convocation ceremony at Red Rocks, featuring the world premiere of a commissioned cantata by Colorado Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence Libby Larsen, performed with help from a number of local choruses, the Denver Brass and the Colorado St. Andrews/Isle of Mull Pipes and Drums. Modern composer Ned Rorem will be on hand tonight at 8 for "A Rorem Retrospective," at the First Church of Christ Scientist, 1401 Logan St. ($25), and upcoming concerts include a blustery "Concert for Organ, Harpsichords and Chamber Orchestra," a Britten opera, and an evening with vocal group Chanticleer. For additional information or reservations, call 832-4730.
One of our favorite summer pilgrimages to Chautauqua Auditorium is the one made annually by Richard Thompson, who never fails to delight his audiences with bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter) ditties, gallows humor and guitar licks that always zig when you expect them to zag. This year, newcomer Gideon Freudmann, who plays an eclectic mixture he calls "cellobop," joins Thompson tonight at 8. The big old barn of an auditorium is located at 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; for tickets, $19 to $23, call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS.
There's something about Boulder this time of year. Perhaps you'll be tempted to linger at Chautauqua for a second night to attend a Centennial Silent Film Program in honor of the venue's auspicious anniversary. A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Melies, will be featured, along with flickery flicks Cinderella and The Panama Canal, some footage of the Spanish-American War and some Colorado-made oaters (all were shown here in 1898) tonight at 7:30 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder. Call 440-7666 or 786-9463.