Wednesday March 29 Gimme five: The modest Five Points neighborhood, now a light-rail hub, has been around for a long time, but you may not have paid it much mind until you zipped through it on one of those shiny new LRT cars and took a good look around. Chances are you saw small businesses in brick storefronts and Victorian homes on the side streets, but maybe the historical significance of the area passed you by. In its heyday, Five Points was much more than a streetcar stop--it was an illustrious and swinging cultural hub where Duke Ellington, Count Basie and other jazz greats made music. That's all documented in the Colorado History Museum's wonderful It's Jazz!: Black Musicians in Colorado, 1890-1950 exhibit; now it's celebrated on stage by entertainers of both local and national note in the Eulipions' Five Points Blues musical revue, to be performed tonight at 7 in the museum auditorium, 1300 Broadway. In addition, the Colorado Historical Society is sponsoring an informative bus tour of the area on Sunday, featuring visits to various landmarks and a down-home fried-chicken lunch at Kapre's. Tickets to the performance are $10 ($8 society members); tour seats cost $30 ($25 members). Call 866-4686 for additional information and reservations to either event.
Thursday March 30 Buck stops here:Anybody who sat through Ken Burns's marathon baseball series on PBS knows that the star of that exhaustive enterprise was Negro League great John Jordan O'Neil Jr., better known to his friends and fans as "Buck." O'Neil charmed millions of viewers with his frank but fond tales of baseball in the days before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and he'll share more of those memories today at noon when he addresses a special luncheon at the new Blake Street Baseball Club restaurant. The new eatery--itself a site to see--is located at 1902 Blake Street, just one block from Coors Field. Tickets to Buck's speech are $35 per person, $350 for a table of ten; proceeds will benefit the worthy Ballpark Neighborhood Association, the Denver Forum and the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce. Call 832-9030 to reserve yours.
Hope and Galore: It isn't always fair when the greatest-hits album comes out before the artist is considered truly great, but it hasn't fazed UK songstress Kirsty MacColl, not yet a household name in the States. If the whole thing seems mysterious to you, one listen to her new retrospective, Galore, explains everything perfectly. The pop singer may sound like a country girl raised on a diet of pub anthems and ancient Celtic melodies, but her cynical lyrics cut through the treacle like a knife--a relaxed, sweet, humorous knife, to be sure, but still a knife. Believe it. Luckily, the album doesn't signify a career coming to an end--MacColl herself says, "There's plenty more where this came from!" She's on the stump as we speak--catch her tonight at 7:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets are $5.25; call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.
Keeper of the flamenco: The guitar is surely the instrument of the century--small enough to carry, endlessly expressive and versatile enough to blend into any musical offshoot. Denver's Rene Heredia, a world traveler born in Granada, Spain, and well-versed in the passionate ways of gypsy flamenco, takes full advantage of those qualities, resulting in a percussive, romantic, rose-between-the-teeth sound. He'll headline tonight at a 9 p.m. concert at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax. The show also features classical guitarist Stuart Weber, whose outdoorsy repertoire reflects his Montana heritage. Tickets for the performances are $11 in advance ($13 at the door); call 830-TIXS to reserve seats.
Friday March 31 Brown beat: The consummate tasteful bassman, Ray Brown has carried the rhythm behind Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and countless other jazz greats. While it's no small occasion when a player of Brown's stature performs in Denver, he's assembled a spectacular Ray Brown All Star Quartet for this weekend's Mainstream Jazz Evenings at the Park Hill Golf Club. Besides Brown, the combo boasts incomparable vibe master Milt Jackson, pianist Cedar Walton and smiling Billy Higgins on drums. The Park Hill, at 4141 E. 35th Ave., is sure to be the smoothest joint in town tonight and tomorrow; dinner will be served from 5:30 to 8:30, with sets beginning at 7. To reserve your seats, $30 a head, call 333-5414 or 333-2940. Fast.
Toss this around: Even her band's name, Throwing Muses, is brilliant--it's perfect. Kristin Hersh, the group's gifted leader, clearly listens to one--wailing her way through dream imagery, psychotic landscapes and modern concerns, not necessarily in that order. On the latest Muses album, University, Hersh has matured, even settled down a bit, but she's still thinking. Complemented by the opener, Ass Ponys, this bill ought to be a screeching, memorable winner. Admission to the show, 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, is $12.60 in advance ($13.65 day of show); call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS for tickets.
Saturday April 1 Tish, Tish: A favorite with the folk crowd whenever she breezes into Denver, Tish Hinojosa is a treat to hear all on her own. Mixing a melting pot of Texas-centered influences, Hinojosa's rippling voice is equally at home with country twangs, folk lyrics and diverse Latin rhythms, from jogging Tex-Mex to hot island cumbias. Representatives of some of those musical genres--accordionist Santiago Jimenez Jr., Texas songwriter Butch Hancock and cowboy crooner Don Walser--join her on Tish Hinojosa's Border Tour, stopping over tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. That kind of variety is sure to remind you that Texas is one mighty big state. Tickets to the concert, sponsored by the Swallow Hill Music Association, are $17 ($15 Swallow Hill members); call 777-1003 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Orthodox procedures: A pair of area galleries will greet the season with exhibits of sacred imagery, spotlighting the age-old art form of the Orthodox churches of Russia and Eastern Europe. Traditionally painted on wood panels and ornately decorated with metal leaf, cloisonne enamel, filigree and gems, icons were later banned by the Soviet regime, evolving into a forbidden art characterized by tiny lacquered boxes. Natasha's Russian Treasures, a gold mine of knickknacks from the old country, features Windows Into Heaven: Russian Icons, the Timeless Art, a collection of antique pieces dating from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries, today through April 23. Natasha's is located at 1320 E. 17th Ave.; call 831-1330. Icons: Old World Traditions, which opened Friday at Mountain Shadow Gallery, features delicately painted pieces by Romanian artist Illeana Barbu, who now lives in Colorado. A reception for Barbu, as well as a demonstration by the artist, will be held today from 1 to 4 p.m.; the show continues through April 17. Mountain Shadow is located in Boulder at 1217 Spruce St.; call 444-9116.
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Sunday April 2 Garbo laughs! Fred Garbo is a clown for the Nineties--his act combines graceful acrobatics with sophisticated fun and a healthy injection of absurd humor. Everyone loves him--kids, grownups and those who are unsure--and his shows have that quality of ultimate buskership, the feeling that you could just as likely be watching him on a Manhattan street as on stage at the Arvada Center. Garbo teams with Brazilian dancer Daielma Santos in Fred Garbo & Company: The Inflatable Comedy Theater Show (named for his trademark inflatable suit) today at 1 and 4:30 p.m. at the center, at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. To reserve tickets ($8 and $10), call 431-3939.
Give 'em help: Three local women musicians will sing their hearts out tonight at One Song...Many Voices, a benefit concert for the Colorado AIDS Project. Headlined by the Paula Westerfield Band (Westerfield herself has been diagnosed as HIV-positive), Hazel Miller and the Caucasians and Shawna Strecker with Western Vogue, the concert will raise funds while raising the roof at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $10; for $20, you can also attend a preconcert party at 5:30. Call 830-2525 or 837-0166.
Monday April 3 The grail thing: The age of chivalry ain't dead--it's alive and well at the Boulder Public Library, in the form of a traveling exhibit created by the American Library Association. The Many Realms of King Arthur, a collection of illuminated manuscripts, books and artwork depicting Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere and other characters of the Round Table legends, will be illustrated and explained through events that include film showings, concerts, children's workshops and scholarly lectures, all to be held throughout the exhibition (it runs until May 11). Today there's a book talk with author T.A. Barron (The Merlin Effect) at 2 and 4 p.m., and a library film-series screening of Excalibur tonight at 7:30; for further information call 441-3196 or 441-3100. The library is located at 1000 Canyon Blvd. in Boulder.
Tuesday April 4 The sound of music: The Turner Museum closes its intimate and popular Allegories in Music concert series tonight in the usual salonlike manner. Performing in recital at 7:30 will be Turner regular Alex Komodore on classical guitar and Rod Garnett on flute. Be sure to arrive early for a look at the current museum exhibition of allegorical works by artist J.M.W. Turner. Reservations are recommended. Call 832-0924 for tickets; they're $25.