Thrills for the week

August 8
Lunar tunes: A little bit of music and magic will intertwine under the stars when Denver's enduring Chicano/Latino theater group, El Centro Su Teatro, presents local playwright Anthony Garcia's Return of the Barrio Moon for three nights at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax. The bilingual outdoor performance, mixing songs and poetic cuentos, or stories, in a look at the lives of four residents of the Southwestern town of Barrio Moon, begins at 8 nightly, today through Saturday; El Centro in the Park admission is free for all. Bring a picnic dinner and share in a community event; for details call 296-0219.

Play's the thing: The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, already a family kind of place, may rival F.A.O. Schwarz as a toy emporium for the next few months, while Toys and Games: An International Exhibit From the Flanders Museum, Mechelen, Belgium is whimsically displayed in its galleries. The traveling toy collection, featuring superlative Marklin toy trains, a historical overview of military figurines, dolls, teddy bears, mechanical amusements and even a miniature reproduction of the Battle of Waterloo, opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 9; curators from the Belgian museum will be on hand. A joy for kids, grownups and connoisseurs alike, the exhibit continues through November 3. For information call the Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., at 431-3939.

Your hitch parade: Former Lenny Kravitz sideman Karl Denson, a funkified saxophonist rooted in the solid jazz traditions of Coltrane and Rollins, and D.J. Andreas Stevens are the driving forces behind the Greyboy Allstars, but trombonist Fred Wesley, veteran of the great James Brown and P-Funk horn sections, is clearly along for the ride. Stick out your thumb and you can hop on the bus, too: The combo, an underground success story featuring Wesley's propulsive 'bone work, appears tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $14.70, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.

August 9
Smokestack lightning: Pictures of man's monuments--castles, industrial sites and skyscrapers devoid of mortal imagery and overshadowed by haze and smoke--somehow comment on man himself in Michael Kenna: New Work, an exhibit of bleak, small-scale yet illuminating photographs debuting at Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St., where gallery director Hal Gould continues his exemplary policy of bringing world-class photography to Denver. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 tonight; Kenna's mysterious works can be seen through September 8. Call 623-4059.

Putting down roots: Two great branches of American music share the spotlight this weekend at different venues, but both events promise good times and sublime tunes. The annual three-day Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival, fondly known as RockyGrass and brought to you by the same folks responsible for the renowned Telluride Bluegrass Festival, amasses the best of the country's lightning-fast pickers, fiddlers and rustic crooners at the scenic, riverside Planet Bluegrass amphitheater in Lyons. Headliners include Laurie Lewis and Grant Street, Tim and Mollie O'Brien, Doc Watson, the Seldom Scene and Crucial Country, a supergroup with Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas and Gene Libbea. The nearly nonstop music begins this afternoon at 4, tomorrow at 10:30 and Sunday at 11. Three-day festival passes are $60, while daily admission ranges from $20 to $25; call 449-6007. Also outdoors, at the equally scenic Red Rocks amphitheater, is tonight's House of Blues Tour, a guitar-heavy rhythm-and-blues barrage featuring legendary bluesman Buddy Guy, rock survivor Joe Cocker, the crowd-pleasing Radiators, Kim Wilson's Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Gales Brothers (left-handed and upside-down, every last one of 'em). Tickets to the 6 p.m. show are $25 general admission and $27.50 reserved, plus the usual tacked-on seat taxes and service charges; call 830-TIXS.

August 10
I'm your puppet: When local kids and artists join together to pull a few strings, the end product is Bigger Than Your Head. And that isn't a hat or an idea or even a breadbox--BTYH refers, instead, to monster puppets created from glue, staples, paint, found objects and whatever during special summer puppet-making programs that were held at the Acoma City Center, Globeville Recreation Center and Girls, Incorporated. Oversized, kid-designed concoctions, as well as those conceived by professional artist advisors, including Lonnie Hanzon, Jane Hargrove, Tim Flynn and Tracy Weil, will be the central attraction at a 10:30 a.m. pageant in Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax; at 11:30, the whole spectacle will then parade from the park to Acoma City Center, 1080 Acoma St., in a processional leading to a noon picnic and celebration for all. Inexpensive food will be available for purchase at the center, but additional games, entertainment, facility tours and general merrymaking are free. For information call 534-2767.

Songs of Bernadette: Bubbly Bernadette Peters may be a comic screen star and a big-voiced recording artist, but the Tony Award-winner's best moments have probably been on the Broadway stage, where she's wowed 'em in hits like George M!, On the Town, Sunday in the Park With George and The Goodbye Girl. Peters should be no less explosive tonight when she lights up Broadway Under the Stars, a pops offering at Fiddler's Green, 5350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Admission to the 8 p.m. concert is $35 for reserved seating and $20 for lawn seats; to purchase tickets call 986-9742 or 830-TIXS.  

Finely chiseled: Talk about stepping into a whole new dimension: At the outdoor Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show and Sale, taking place today from 9:30 to 7 and tomorrow from 9:30 to 5, more than 3,500 sculptures--forged, constructed and molded in all sizes and a variety of materials--will be on display, representing the work of over 280 sculptors from around the globe. In addition, five Inuit sculptors, whose distinctive work in bone and ivory provides a special attraction this year, will demonstrate and discuss their craft, and auctions will be held for interested sculpture buyers. Admission to the show, which will be held under tents near Lake Loveland, at 24th and Taft in Loveland, is $5 daily (children under fourteen free); a gratis shuttle bus will be provided for those parking at the Orchards Shopping Plaza, 29th St. and Hwy. 287. Call 744-6462 or 1-970-663-7467 for directions or additional information.

Disc is it: Athletic pooches may never be eligible for Olympic medals, but this could be the next best thing--any four-legged friend with a penchant for grabbing soaring discs out of thin air can compete in the Alpo Canine Frisbee Disc Championships. Mutts of all sizes, shapes and abilities are invited to sign up beginning at 9 a.m. for an open regional final, to be held from 9:30 to 1:30 today at Progress Park, 5100 S. Hickory St., Littleton. There are no entry or admission fees, but space is limited--only the first fifty hounds to press their paws to the dotted line will be accepted (owners included, of course)--so if you'd like to put on your dog, early arrival is recommended. Otherwise, you can watch while today's two top dogs, each judged for showmanship, leaping agility, degree of difficulty and execution, compete to win a trip to Washington, D.C., for the September 28 world finals.

August 11
Bridging the gap: The fiery Paganini himself could not have been more courageous than those gutsy Fiddlers on the Gorge, who will compete today from noon to 6 p.m., with the Royal Gorge--sheer walls dropping over 1,000 feet to the boiling Arkansas River below--providing an awe-inspiring backdrop to the musical contest. (Two words, acrophobics: Stay home.) National fiddle champ Chris Daring performs this morning at 10; afterward, good, bad and middling fiddlers of all ages will congregate before the judges. Admission to Royal Gorge Bridge Park, $8 to $11 (children under four free), includes contest registration fees, spectating and the use of all park attractions, including an aerial tram, a theater and a children's carousel. The spectacular sightseeing destination is located off of Hwy. 50, eight miles west of Canon City; aspiring contestants can register beginning at 11:30 a.m. today or by calling 1-719-275-7507. A similar event, called Fiddlers Along the Arkansas, will be held tomorrow beginning at 10 in downtown Canon City; that celebration features a barbecue, an arts and crafts fair, cowboy poets and live entertainment to go along with all the fiddling around.

August 12
It could be verse: Poetry lovers may detect a summer lull in poetic activities around town. Leave it to the Tattered Cover's Monday Poetry Series to keep the ball--and the allusions, alliterations and assonances--rolling, though, even in the muggy midst of August swoon. Tonight at 7:30, series guest Renee Ruderman, an instructor at Metropolitan State College of Denver and winner of the 1995 49th Parallel Poetry Prize, reads selections from her debut collection, Poems From the Rooms Below ($9.95 from Permanence Press). Pull up a chair on the lower level; the T.C. is located at 2955 E. 1st Ave. in Cherry Creek North. Call 322-7727.

August 13
All this and more: A gay Canadian country-crossover pop singer with a powerful set of pipes that just keep on going--it's a circuitous but proper description of songbird k.d. lang, a musical chameleon whose talent assures her success in just about any genre. Lang's recent turnaround album, All You Can Eat, is a case in point--after the Patsy Cline double-take of Shadowland, the uptempo country of Absolute Torch and Twang and the diva-esque emoting of Ingenue, lang has decided to streamline, modernize and throw an olive branch to the alternative market. Check out her provocative new guise tonight at 8 at Red Rocks amphitheater. Tickets are $25; call 830-TIXS.  

August 14
Rising to the occasion: Though it's hard to remember now amid the current outpouring of recordings from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond, Nigerian pop musician King Sunny Ade almost single-handedly put worldbeat on the map when his 1983 Island release, Juju Music, captivated a new, global audience with an unrelenting burst of polyrhythmic percussion grooves, swooping pedal-steel riffs, dense guitar volleys and half-chanted, singsong lyrics. Not surprisingly, Ade's Afropop composite is still a trendsetter, sounding as fresh and modern today as it did then, and the joyful onstage spectacle produced by Ade and his hypnotic entourage, the African Beats, hasn't lost its punch in the least. Denver audiences can zone out with them tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax; for tickets, $14 to $17, call 322-2308 or 830-

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