Wednesday June 28 'Poke folks: "This ain't exactly a New York poetry slam," or so says Carson Reed, one of the hosts for A Night at the Kitchen Table, the first of a series of tale-telling events to be held twice each month at the Wynkoop Brewing Company. The focus of the premiere meet--sponsored by The Western Pocket quarterly journal--is on Western poetry, storytelling and song, and there'll be plenty of that, courtesy of local favorites Sean Blackburn and Liz Masterson, co-host Vess Quinlan and Texan John Winslow. But the promoters of the "jam 'n' jaw session" also encourage others to come on down and step up to the mike, beginning at 7:30 p.m. It's two bucks at the door; the Wynkoop is at 1634 18th St.
Swing it, brother: This is the real thing--Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys play countrified rockabilly with a ducktailed authenticity gained while backing the likes of blues bopper Sleepy LaBeef and Western swing's Rose Maddox. Buoyed by guitar-and-pedal-steel interplay reminiscent of Texas Playboys Eldon Shamblin and Leon McAuliffe, and by Big Sandy's patented croon, the combo will have the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, rocking and rolling tonight beginning at 8. The Dalhart Imperials, a local outfit, opens. Tickets are $5; call 322-2308.
Thursday June 29 Havens on earth: Larimer Square kicks off its gratis summer concert series with a biggie--gravel-voiced Woodstocker Richie Havens will take the outdoor stage tonight, preceded by guitarist/singer/songwriter Chris Smither, who's written hits for Bonnie Raitt, at 7:30. But the fun begins at 4 with folk dancing and salsa music, so be there and be square. It's all free; call 607-1276.
Horns of plenty: Some members of the Dirty Dozen, formerly the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, don't play brass. In fact, they aren't an even dozen. But along with recently added drums, piano and guitar, the group has trumpets, saxes and sousaphones to spare. The Dozen pay homage to the traditional New Orleans brass bands that follow parades and funerals (the original members did just that), but they update the sound with funk, jazz and R&B, creating something that cries out for a party. And a party is what you'll get when the Dirty Dozen play the open-air Common at the Plex, 14th and Curtis streets. Admission to the show is $15; for information and tickets call 777-7372.
Movies and shakers: Film buffs, get set! Two dissimilar film series kick off tonight. El Centro Su Teatro begins its annual Chicano Film Series, shown on an outdoor screen at 4725 High St., near the Denver Coliseum. Corridos, directed by Luis Valdez (known for his films Zoot Suit and La Bamba) and starring Linda Ronstadt, opens the series around 8; admission is free. And the Boulder Public Library continues its ongoing series, also free, with a Tribute to Friz Freleng and a Festival of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction. Shorts by animator Freleng--who created Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzalez, Yosemite Sam and other Warner Bros. 'toons--will be shown before festival offerings: Tonight at 7:30, it's Porky in I Haven't Got a Hat, followed by Death Takes a Holiday. The library is located at 1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder; call 441-3197.
Friday June 30 Gardens party: Now you can experience theater alfresco at the Denver Botanic Gardens, when the Compass Theatre Company performs two lighthearted Shakespeare favorites under the stars. See the bard's magical A Midsummer Night's Dream tonight or Much Ado About Nothing tomorrow. Tickets for each performance are $12 ($10 DBG members); call 777-7372. The gardens are located at 1005 York St., where parking can be a crunch--luckily, free parking and shuttle service are available at the south side of the Glendale Target lot, at 4301 E. Virginia Ave. For additional information call 370-8187.
Cheap thrills: The legacy of Robert Crumb is both dubious and undeniable--the grandaddy of underground cartoonists defined the form, creating rough and randy comix characters like Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and Flakey Foont. An excellent draftsman, observer, social commentator, lover of ancient jazz forms and admitted demento, he's now the subject of Crumb, a documentary by filmmaker and fellow Cheap Suit Serenader (Crumb's trad string band) Terry Zwigoff. Catch Crumb during its limited run at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway; call 744-6796 for showtimes.
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Saturday July 1 Art beat: It's not only back, it's bigger and better--Cherry Creek Arts Festival, the most extensive art walk in town, begins today in Cherry Creek North and continues through Monday from 10 to 7 daily. The nationally recognized annual fest features quality artwork by 200 exhibitors--from photography to jewelry to sculpture to watercolors. Also on the slate are artist demonstrations (we don't want to miss the "edible art" created at one demonstration stage), an expanded Creation Station with hands-on kids' activities, live performances, a student art competition, and lots of food-and-drink vendors. So do wear comfortable shoes: The festival, located on Second and Third avenues between Clayton and St. Paul streets, is quite a hike. For details, call the festival office at 355-ARTS.
Sunday July 2 Independent thinkers: Stop pacing the floor like a kid--you can begin your Independence Day festivities early with a couple of warm-up sessions. Although it's only July 2, Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., welcomes KYGO's Country 4th, a day of country music featuring Mark Chesnutt and Terry McBride & the Ride and followed by a fabulous fireworks display after dark. Tickets for the day, which begins at 1, are $5 and are available at metro Diamond Shamrock stations. And in Boulder, the Colorado Music Festival's Family Night offers a rendition of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, providing the background for a slide show of Colorado's scenic four seasons given by photographer Bob Castellano. Tickets for all are a bargain at only nine bucks apiece. The concert begins at 6 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd.; call 449-2413 for reservations.
Monday July 3 You make me feel like dancing: What happens when you mix flamenco, Zen archery and Buddhist chanting? Japanese-American choreographer Hirokazu Kozaka, along with some guest artists, will answer that question for youngsters ages five to eighteen during a lecture/performance held today in conjunction with the Colorado Dance Festival's Kids' Action Network. The children's event, featuring excerpts from America Maru, Kozaka's full-length work exploring the experience of first-generation Japanese in this country, starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Space for Dance, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder. Admission is free, but reservations are suggested, as seating is limited. Call 442-7666.
Tuesday July 4 The Fourth be with you: The Fourth of July is the quintessential ripe watermelon of a summer holiday, requiring barbecued burgers, screaming kids and evening skies lit with rockets' red glare. Celebrating will be easy, in town or out, as there are plenty of things to do. At Lakeside Amusement Park, I-70 and Sheridan, the family can party on a budget--all ride coupons will be sold for a dime apiece, or you adrenaline junkies can get zoned on an $8 unlimited ride pass. Lakeside, home of the Cyclone, Wild Chipmunk and Flying Dutchman, opens at noon; call 477-1621. Various metro communities will be treating their denizens to fireworks shows, but at Front Range Community College, 3645 W. 112th Ave. in Westminster, you'll get your eyeful along with an earful--Igor's Jazz Cowboys will provide a Western swing backdrop before the whole thing goes up in smoke. Admission is free; call 429-1999. And the Colorado Symphony Orchestra can always be counted on to provide patriotic and bombastic fare--from Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever to Tchaikovsky's booming 1812 Overture--during its annual Independence Day concert at Fiddler's Green. You can bet the sky will be popping there, as well. Admission to the 8 p.m. concert ranges from $5 to $15; call 986-8742. Escape routes are available, too--above Boulder, the Gold Hill Inn's 4th of July Mountain Barbecue features brisket, chicken and all the trimmings, along with boogie-woogie rock and roll from Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Celebrate from noon to 5; tickets are $16 in advance ($9 music only, $1 more day of show). For information call 443-6461. The residents of Coal Creek Canyon are doing the Fourth the old-fashioned way, with contests, a 5K run, a parade, entertainment, an Antique Steam and Gas Engine Festival and Market, and even a dunking booth. It all takes place eleven miles west of the intersection of Highways 93 and 72 between the hours of 8:30 and 5; call 642-3129. And Central City is throwing a Freedomfest, featuring streetside casino cuisine, mock gunfights and gold-panning demonstrations during the day, and music by headliners Poco, followed by fireworks, at night. Call 1-800-542-2999.