Thrills for the week

September 12
Go west, young woman: Though ground has yet to be broken for the Women of the West Museum, a national institution-in-planning for Boulder, those administering the project are ready to begin sharing some of it with the public right now. Their Women in the American West Lecture Series, a three-part string of informative evenings, kicks off tonight at 7 at Chautauqua Community House, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, where Montana State University scholar Corlann Gee Bush will give a slide talk titled The Way We Weren't: Images of Women in the American West, focusing on artwork by Remington, Russell and other visual chroniclers of Western U.S. culture. Subsequent series presentations include filmmaker Doris Loeser on women ranchers and rodeo competitors (October 3 at Chautauqua) and Channel 4 news anchor Reynelda Muse on African-American women playing prominent roles in Colorado history (November 12 at the Denver Central Library); all lectures are free. For more information call 499-9110.

Stage fright: David Mamet's American Buffalo--a classic of the contemporary theater pantheon in which characters Teach, Don and Bob, a hard-bitten trio of small-time thugs, plan to pilfer an elusive coin collection--has gotten CityStage Ensemble's fall season off to a powerful start. The play, which delves into the underlying primitivism of modern-day society, opened last weekend and can be seen at the Theatre at Jack's, 1553 Platte St., at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, through October 6. Tickets are $10 to $12; for reservations call 433-8082. (A film version, starring Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Franz, also is opening in town. See Bill Gallo's movie review on page 41 and M.S. Mason's theater review on page 47.)

September 13
Be true to your school: Whether you're the type who likes to spiff up and strut your stuff on a dance floor or a concert potato who prefers to appreciate musicians from a seated position, the Swallow Hill Music Association has a way to tempt you tonight. Western swing dancing to Liz Masterson & Sean Blackburn and the Cactus Crooners, one of the area's best fiddle-jazz aggregates, is the ticket at Swallow Hill's Cowboy Cotillion, a dance party held at the Temple Events Center, 1595 Pearl St. For $12 ($10 members), you're entitled to dance lessons--where you can freshen up on your Texas two-step, jitterbug, waltz and schottische--at 7, followed by the dance, beginning at 8; call 1-800-444-SEAT. Also tonight, at the comfy Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St., contemporary songstress Cosy Sheridan, winner of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's Troubadour Award and the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk Contest, tunes up for a folk-flavored set beginning at 8. Sheridan is a bona fide face to watch on the acoustic-music beat, but opener Karen Capaldi, hailing from Boulder, is no slouch, either. Tickets are $10 ($8 members); call 777-1003.

Sculpt and bones: The fall gallery season takes a couple of intriguing, reflective turns in the road tonight at a pair of opening receptions for vastly differing exhibits. Artyard, the praiseworthy gallery space and sculpture garden at 1251 S. Pearl St., features Reunion, a show of works by sculptors Roger Kotoske, Wilbert Verhelst and Robert Mangold. The three collaborated on the Burns Park Symposium, a 1968 community sculpture-raising effort in the park at Alameda Ave. and Colorado Blvd.; they'll show more recent works at Artyard, beginning tonight with a reception from 6 to 9 and continuing through October 31. Call 777-3219. Cooperative gallery Zip 37, located at 3644 Navajo St., takes an alternate tack when member and painstaking draftsman Bill Amundson explores middle-age angst with a disturbing, near-gothic series of new drawings called Self Portraits of Men. Amundson's show opens tonight from 7 to 11; the spooky portraits will hang through September 29. Call 477-4525.

Indian strummer: Ardent fans of guitarist Ry Cooder may also be familiar with the exotic sounds of Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, an East Indian musician who collaborated with bluesman Cooder a few years ago on Meeting by the River, a stunning album of cross-cultural instrumental tracks. Bhatt, who bridges gaps by playing traditional Indian classical music on a modified Western acoustic guitar, performs with tabla artist Sukhvinder Singh tonight at 7:30 in Foote Music Hall at the Houston Fine Arts Center, Montview and Quebec. Admission to the concert, a fundraiser for an organization assisting in the education of underprivileged children in India, is $15; call 252-9733 or 699-7481.

Foamy weather: Hoist your mugs, fraus and frauleins--pull on your lederhosen and put a feather in your cap. Larimer Square's Oktoberfest, though it takes place in September to take full advantage of Denver's fine fall weather, is the real deal, closely patterned after Munich's definitive autumn celebration of brewskis, polkas and oompah bands. This year's event, spread over two weekends, will feature everything from the World's Shortest Parade (11:30 a.m. tomorrow) to an accordion concert performed by more than 100 squeeze-boxers of all ages (3:45 p.m. September 21), as well as the more traditional biergartens, sausage vendors and German entertainment. An expanded Kinderplatz children's area, authentic temporary facades replicating a German village and the ceremonial renaming of Larimer Street to Theresienwiese (or Theresia's Meadow) round out festivities, which begin today with a street unveiling at 11:30 a.m. and continue from noon to 11 Friday, 11 to 11 Saturday and noon to 8 Sunday, through September 22. A portion of Oktoberfest profits will benefit Historic Denver Inc.; for information call 607-1276.  

September 14
Poetic justice: More than just a poet, contemporary literary statesman Robert Creeley is a scientist of poetics who inspires lively discussion on the state of the underexposed art of verse. A mover and shaker in his field, Creeley appears this evening at the Naropa Institute Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, at a reading benefiting an annual scholarship program for summer writing and poetics students at the institute. The award-winning poet reads at 8; for details call 546-3540.

Genius pool: One of the century's more fascinating figures comes to life in Walking Lightly: A Portrait of Einstein, actor Len Barron's original one-man dramatic treatment probing the ideas and personality of the great physicist-thinker Albert Einstein. Barron's performance, clearly a labor of love and careful research, takes place at 8 tonight at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder; tickets, $8 to $12, can be purchased at the door, or in advance at Stage House II and the European Flower Shop in Boulder or the Hermitage Antiquarian Bookshop in Denver. Call 442-6458 for more information.

Horsing around: The art and sport of dressage (rhymes with "massage")--a sort of cooperative classical ballet between horse and rider--reaches a pinnacle when practiced by the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions, those world-famous ivory Andalusian steeds known for their beauty, intelligence, trainability and grace. The Lipizzans--which, incidentally, are not born snow-white but turn that color gradually with age--will mince through their precise, high-stepping routines today at 2 and 8 and again tomorrow at 2 at the Denver Coliseum, 4800 Humboldt St. Regular admission ranges from $12.50 to $14.50 (VIP seating is available for $18.50); call 830-TIXS.

September 15
Best on the West: It's time for another PBS epic in the spellbinding tradition of documentarian wunderkind Ken Burns's pair of exhaustive series on the Civil War and baseball. As a producer, Burns had a hand in the making of The West, this season's historical visual opus, but directorial credits belong to Steven Ives, who follows in the Burns tradition of combining visual imagery, period music and scholarly commentary into a riveting dramatic saga of pioneer frontiersmen, mixed cultures and prototypical rugged individualists. The West--which begins tonight at 7, airing nightly through September 19, and continues on September 22-24--includes a diverse roster of interviewees from a melting pot of Western American cultures, among them Colorado historian Patricia Limerick. Interest piqued? Tune in tonight to KRMA-TV/Channel 6 and prepare for the long haul.

Note for note: From the full-bodied Boulder Philharmonic to the subtle Silverwood flute and guitar duo, the Boulder area has plenty to offer classical-music lovers around the region. These and a host of other ensembles, both professional and amateur, will let you try them on for a few tunes each today at the Classical Music Showcase, a musical sampler taking place at the Boulder Public Library Auditorium, 1000 Canyon Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Groups perform in half-hour intervals throughout the day; admission is free. Call 447-2422 or 492-8008 for information.

September 16
Music to think by: Pure, unadulterated Ron Miles, in duet with bassist Kent McLagan, can be heard tootling his trumpet in new and stimulating directions tonight at 8 at the Bug Performance and Media Art Center, 3654 Navajo St. in the Highland Arts District. In case you didn't know, Miles--a Metro State College prof and local jazz musician of repute--is on the fast track to the big time, with a Gramavision CD and recording stint with guitarist Bill Frisell notched in his belt. Who knows how much longer we'll get to hear him blow in as intimate a setting? Open your ears--admission is $3; call 477-5977.

September 17
All in the family: In the closet of House Speaker Newt Gingrich lurks a different voice: half-sister Candace Gingrich. A gay activist who proudly came out of her closet, she writes about it all, casting a knowing insider's eye on Mr. Speaker in her autobiographical book, The Accidental Activist: A Personal and Political Memoir. Gingrich will stop by the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., to discuss and autograph copies of the tome--a volume with perhaps more bite than brother Newt's recent novel--tonight at 7:30. Arrive early; numbers for a seat and place in the receiving line will be given out beginning at 6:30 p.m. Call 322-7727 for details.  

September 18
Voices of America: Hand-picked through open auditions in Harlem elementary schools, the young members of the Boys Choir of Harlem sing like a pack of urban angels. They've traveled the world and sung in the disparate company of Luciano Pavarotti, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Jackson and other stars; their voices have even been heard in the Civil War flick Glory. Tonight at 7:30, though, they'll appear in concert at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl., led by conductor and guiding light Dr. Walter J. Turnbull. Tickets to the performance are $20 and $25; call 830-

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