Three years ago, a group of teens approached Douglas County Libraries community-relations specialist Aspen Butterfield with an interesting proposal. "They saw that the library had children's performers coming through, and they wanted to know if they could play music there, too," Butterfield explains. But before flocks of nebbish librarians were forced to flee the premises, the group decided on a Battle of the Bands instead, an outdoor concert/cultural outlet for area teenagers.
Now in its third year, the Douglas County Battle of the Bands keeps getting bigger, with today's concert at Highland Heritage Park in Highlands Ranch expected to draw the largest crowd yet.
A jury of teens and adults reviewed demo tapes and videos from eighteen groups, eventually deciding on a lineup of eight, with musical styles ranging from rock to punk to ska. The free show runs at the park, located at the corner of South University Boulevard and South Quebec Street, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with each band allotted one hour of stage time. Audience members will vote for their favorites.
"It's a great showcase of the music that the young people of Douglas County are putting out right now, and there's no snooty judges," Butterfield explains. "It's the people's choice." -- Adam Cayton-Holland
Lighthouse writers read their works
When they formed the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in 1997, Andrea Dupree and Michael Henry wanted to foster a creative community in which writers could refine their craft. They also carved out a fine life for themselves: Henry and Dupree began leading workshops in their LoDo loft, and today they run a studio-office in a hip quadrant of north Denver, working with others who share their love of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose. Lighthouse has always focused on workshops and classes. But it's also created mediums and venues for its instructors, students and the rest of the write-minded public to share their work with the world. Tonight, Lighthouse christens a new monthly open-mike engagement at Stella's Coffee Haus, 1476 South Pearl Street, where everyone is invited to read for four minutes each. Scribes of all skill levels and genres may take the stage; sign-in begins at 6:55 p.m. and the last mike drops at 9. For details, call 303-297-1185. -- Laura Bond
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Hoist up the big top: Cirque du Soleil is back in town this weekend with Varekai, its latest North American touring production. "Each Cirque show is unique unto itself," says Doatsy Peifer, Cirque's Denver spokeswoman. "It's really exhilarating to see, because it's so physical."
With an international cast of more than fifty artists, Varekai, which means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies, features innovative new choreography by Dominic Champagne that ranges from grounded body skating and Georgian dancers to the high-flying triple-trapeze act. Circus traditions such as juggling and clowns will also be part of the mix.
"The finale is called 'Russian Swings,' and nothing will quite prepare you for it," says Peifer. "When people see it, their jaws drop."Varekai opens tonight at 8 p.m., under the Grand Chapiteau on the grounds of the Pepsi Center, and runs through July 11. Tickets, $49.50 to $75, can be purchased at www.cirquedusoleil.com or by calling 1-800-678-5440. -- Julie Dunn