Wednesday February 15 Speech! Speech!: As spokesman for the rootsy, politicized rap group Arrested Development, the man known only as Speech has made it his mission to introduce young black fans to the group's difficult activism. So along with fellow Arrestee, Terrie Axam, he helped produce Fusion, a multimedia spinoff of the work Arrested Development has already set in motion. The performance--a celebration of African culture and its effects on other cultures--includes traditional dancing and drumming, along with the insights of modern historian Professor Atu. And it all comes to the University of Colorado at Boulder tonight as part of the school's Black History Month programming. Fusion will be staged at 7:30 in the Glenn Miller Ballroom on campus. Admission is free; for information call 492-3227.
Come blow your horn: The Creative Music Works' Wednesday-night Frontiers series gains steam this evening when the Hugh Ragin Quintet performs at 8 at Vartan Jazz, 231 Milwaukee St. It's a stroke of good fortune: Ragin, who slings his trumpet on the road for adventurous musicians such as Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton and David Murray, lives just up the road in Fort Collins, where he heads Colorado State University's jazz program. That makes it easy for us to join him on the cutting edge. Check into Vartan's smoke-free room for a $5 cover charge ($4 CMW members); call 399-1111 or 758-6321 for details.
The sun also rises: Don't get too comfy--E-Town, usually a Sunday occurrence, will tape tonight at 7, and it's a doozy. Two-step on down to the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, for an evening of music by Cajun fiddler Michael Doucet's band of traditionalists, Beausoleil, and bluegrass vocalist Kate MacKenzie, a Prairie Home Companion favorite. Tickets are $6 in advance ($8 day of show); call 786-7030 to reserve yours.
Thursday February 16 The latest procreation: It happens all the time. One day, you're a tight little punk band thrashing around before a faithful audience of few; tomorrow, you're huge. So it goes for Offspring, who will front the mosh pit tonight at the Mammoth Events Center, 1510 Clarkson St. Quicksand and Nouseforaname open at 7:30; for tickets, $13.50, dial 1-800-444-SEAT or 830-2525.
Friday February 17 Rules of the game: Most of us don't usually take the time to consider physics when we watch a batted ball fly past the foul pole or a punted one clear the goalposts, but a new exhibit opening today at the Denver Museum of Natural History could change that forever. Science of Sports uses five sport-related thematic areas with hands-on activities--from a locker room where visitors can try on athletic equipment to a dugout where they try their hands as armchair referees--to help make sense of scientific principles. In addition, live demonstrations will be given daily, on the hour, explaining all those things we never thought about before, like why balls bounce or why players use cleats. Science of Sports continues through September 4; call 322-7009 for information. The museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd.
Boomer town: Yep, that's Shelley Long in the Florence Henderson 'do. Just further proof that you're still in the baby-boom loop--old enough to be profoundly affected by The Brady Bunch but young enough to reflect fondly on Long's TV mainstay, Cheers. A natural progression. But don't be embarrassed if you know all the words to that insidious theme song ("That's the way they all became the Brady Bu-unch...") because chances are, audiences at the brand-new Brady Bunch Movie will all be singing along. Wait till you see the lookalike cast. Be a part of the phenomenon; the flick opens today at movie houses all over town.
Saturday February 18 Eighteen wheels and a dozen roses: Gutsy and sweet describe Kathy Mattea to a tee. The West Virginia songbird started out in the folksy "New Grass" movement, was turned on to rock by the Grateful Dead and finally hit Nashville, the big Kahuna, where she put it all together in a contemporary country groove. Whew. Now she's so big she can do as she pleases and put out records that pull from all of her best influences. Mattea should do the same tonight when she appears on stage at 8 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl. Admission is $17 or $21; to order tickets by phone call 534-8336 or 830-TIXS.
Mush ado: Ever since you buried your nose in London's Call of the Wild, you've had this thing for the Great North, right? But the worst-bitten sled maniacs are probably all mushers in the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club, who gather on the icy snow every winter for friendly (or maybe not-so-friendly) competition. You can see them in action this weekend during the Grand County Rendezvous Sled Dog Race, beginning with a hearty "hike" (what mushers actually say to get their dogs moving, rather than "mush") at 10 a.m. today at Granby Sports Park, just south of Granby on Hwy. 40. Admission is free. Go and howl.
Sing the body eclectic: What do you do with a band that calls itself Barenaked Ladies? First of all, they aren't ladies. And second, they're not barenaked. In fact, this harmonizing Canadian group is really quite wholesome--in a very funny, happy-go-lucky kind of way. How can you say no to that? They'll appear, preceded by special guest Jules Shear (a journeyman pop bard who well deserves his own show), tonight at 9 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax. For tickets, $15, call 830-2525 or 830-TIXS.
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Sunday February 19 Seventh-day samurai: For lots of Americans, especially film buffs, Japan will always be personified by Toshiro Mifune in those Kurosawa samurai epics--the upright warrior who lived by the code, weighted down in fierce-looking armor and an elaborate horned helmet. That image will come to life, along with other things Japanese, at the Foothills Art Center's Samurai Sunday, a day-long celebration held in conjunction with the center's Enchantment of Japan exhibit. From 1 to 4, you can see the show and then watch swordsmen perform, hear koto music or observe calligraphers and origami artists; admission is free. Call the center, 809 15th St. in Golden, at 279-3922.
Monday February 20 Tall order: You probably didn't know that Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo--as if he hasn't accomplished enough already--is also a spokesman for CARE. Or that he has a brother who's a talented artist. Mutombo will host a benefit dinner for the international relief agency featuring select wines and an exhibit of paintings by Tshitenge Mutombo, the aforementioned sibling, tonight at 6:30 at the Westin Hotel Tabor Center, 16th and Lawrence streets. Tickets are $75 per person; call 572-9100. And if you're still interested in seeing the latter Mutombo's colorful images of African life but can't afford to attend the fundraiser, come on down to the Tabor Center's Great Hall exhibit area. His paintings and contemporary sandings will hang there through March 5; admission is free.
Why me?: Fans of stark shadows, hard-luck detectives and the psychological willies will want to put down their Jim Thompson potboilers long enough to tune in to PBS's American Cinema series tonight for a look at "Film Noir." The program, studded with interviews of several directors, includes a visit with cinematographer John Bailey, who discusses the genre's dramatic visual style, as well as clips from all the great, dark flicks: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Touch of Evil, The Third Man and a host of others. It's the glorious stuff of your darkest nightmares. American Cinema begins at 9 with a segment on "Film in the Television Age"; the "Film Noir" segment begins at 10. Tune in to KRMA-TV/Channel 6.
Tuesday February 21 No business like show business: Visual artists, local-color writers and Hollywood have maintained longtime love affairs with the Wild West--a mythical place of tumbleweeds and singing cowpokes, twirling lassos and rides into the sunset. Richard Etulian of the University of New Mexico will be on hand to tell us all about it when he gives a slide show as part of the Colorado Historical Society's Western Ingenuity Lecture Series tonight at 7. The event takes place at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway; for ticket information call 866-4686.