Book 'em, Denver: You can take your pick from a whole mountain of inexpensive tomes when the Denver Public Library Friends Annual Used Book Sale opens for business this morning south of the Central Library at 13th Ave. and Acoma St. Inside the sale tents, you'll find a dizzying selection of just about anything that can be squeezed between a front and back cover--mysteries, coffee-table books, artist monographs, cookbooks, kids' storybooks and more, in hardback and paperback editions alike. Amazingly, prices hover around a buck, give or take 50 cents; better books, which include such gems as a 1944 edition of Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi illustrated by Thomas Hart Benton, might tip the scales at $50. It's a perfect place to get lost for an afternoon. Sale hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 303-640-6180.
The meaning of life? Loudon Wainwright III will tell you wry tonight when he brings his personal and personable songwriting approach to the Denver Botanic Gardens' outdoor amphitheater, 1005 York St. This is the summer's last gardens concert, and tickets are still available. The show begins under the setting sun at 7:15 sharp; for tickets, $19 ($16 DBG members), call 303-777-3836.
Like the sublime Milt Jackson before him, Bobby Hutcherson brings good vibes to everything he does, tripping his mallets over vibraphone and marimba keys with great improvisational skill and a real sense of style. Hutch makes magic with his San Francisco-based quartet tonight at 8 at the Mount Vernon Country Club; a buffet dinner precedes the show at 6. Concert-only admission is $12 (or pay $24.95 for the dinner/concert package); the club is located in the foothills at Exit 254 on I-70. Call 303-525-0616 for reservations.
There's a closet Trekkie lurking inside every one of us, so relax. You'll be among friends at Starcon '98, a round-the-clock sci-fi, horror and fantasy extravaganza that includes all manner of futuristic nonsense, from trivia contests and a collectibles auction to a Klingon Warrior Tournament and the Black Hole, a spinning tunnel that mimics that good old blasting-off sensation. In addition, a handful of celebrities from Star Trek, Battleship Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other TV favorites will be on hand to give out autographs. The convention, which takes place at the Holiday Inn DIA, I-70 and Chambers Rd., is sporting a vampire theme this year. Hours are 6 to midnight tonight, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; various admission packages are available. For details call 303-757-5850 or log on at www.starland.com.
These days, improv isn't just a bunch of jokers getting on stage and making up stupid shticks off the tops of their heads. Denver's Bare Essentials Theatre puts the emphasis on character, theme and plot by using "long-form," off-the-cuff elements to create improvised plays based loosely on an audience suggestion. It's not a one-trick pony, and the evidence can be seen in Turn It On Again and Lines of Fire, a pair of pieces Bare Essentials will produce at the Bug Performance & Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St., beginning tonight at 8. Performances continue at 8 p.m. September 4, 5, 11 and 12; for tickets, $5 to $10, call 303-477-5977.
Deals, rarities and just plain goofy memorabilia go on sale today when two distinctly different radio stations host fundraising sales. The KGNU Book and Record Sale, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the Boulder Courthouse Lawn, Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, offers the deals, on listener-donated books, CDs, LPs, posters and other goodies (call 303-449-4885). Meanwhile, the Peak Foundation Rock and Roll Yard Sale offers items that travel off the beaten path: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot at the Sam's Club at Alameda and Broadway, you can bid on anything from a guitar signed by Sheryl Crow to a baseball autographed by Lyle Lovett. Auction proceeds benefit a variety of nonprofit service organizations; call 303-832-5665.
You go to the Colorado State Fair and Exposition, which started last week in Pueblo, for a little bit of everything, including the live music, carnival rides, Spam cooking contests, pig races and antique tractor pulls. But everyone knows the true heart of the fair is the rodeo, which bucks out of the gate today at 6 p.m. and features the usual bareback riding, steer wrestling and calf roping, along with a team competition called a Wild Horse Race. PRCA rodeo action culminates September 5 and 6 with a newly expanded Fiesta Weekend and action-packed Mexican-style Charreada. It's all happening at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo; general gate admission is $5, and rodeo admission is $2.50. For information and tickets call 1-800-444-FAIR or 303-830-TIXS, or log on at www.coloradosfair.com.
Here's an extreme sport that really flies off the deep end. It's wakeboarding, an exhilarating combination of surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and water skiing. You'll have a chance to see it for yourself today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during the closing rounds of the Mountain Dew National Wakeboard Championships. The event climaxes this afternoon with the pro men's and women's final competitions at Sloan Lake, West 17th Ave. and Sheridan Blvd. Spectator admission is free--kind of like the sport. Yee-ha!
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Not one, but two acoustic-guitar-picking phenoms take the stage tonight at Chautauqua Auditorium, bringing a delightful variation of styles and influences with them. Kelly Joe Phelps, a youngster whom former Blaster Dave Alvin calls the "John Coltrane of the slide guitar," starts things off at 8 with a set of scorching country blues; the main man, Leo Kottke, a percussive picker and consummate storyteller, finishes with a signature set of original compositions and droll tales--touche! Chautauqua is at 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; for tickets, $16 to $21, call 303-440-7666 or 303-830-TIXS.
No bluesman working today burns it up better than Buddy Guy, who, with his laid-back overalls, beautiful smile, Grammy collection and insouciantly polka-dotted Stratocaster, represents all that the blues can be, right here in the present. But tonight you'll get a taste of things to come, when Guy messes with the kid--Kid Jonny Lang, that is--beginning at 7 under the moon and stars at Red Rocks amphitheater. Lang, a fret-burner himself who's still in his teens, is one to watch--and apparently with Guy's blessings; for tickets, $25, call 303-830-TIXS.
Before you attempt to commit pen to paper, it may behoove you to conduct research on the subject of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fiction Writing but Didn't Know How to Ask. The asking will be easy today when Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers members Leona Karr, Leslie O'Kane, Francine Matthews (aka Stephanie Baron) and Patricia Werner tackle the answers during a panel discussion beginning at 7 p.m. at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St. Call 303-436-1070.
Rockabilly with a touch of that sweet old Hank Williams twang will rule tonight when Wayne Hancock lets loose at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. An honest roots-music throwback who's developing a noticeable cult following, Hancock performs sometime after 8. Admission is $7 in advance ($8 day of show); for information and tickets call 303-322-2308 or 303-329-6353.