The Doctor is in: In music, there are legends and then there are legends -- living, breathing, walking, talking, genre-embodying types. Crescent City music man Dr. John, the reigning witch doc of New Orleans-style R&B, falls securely in the latter category, relying on wry, blusey trademark vocals and a syncopated mastery of the eighty-eights that's second to none. And live, he's in his element, putting forth a lazy, effortles vibe that primes audiences for a night of dancing in the aisles. Dr. John stirs his gumbo of blues, rock, jazz standards and Mardi Gras fare tonight and tomorrow at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $24.15, call 830-TIXS or 447-0095.
We make beautiful music together: The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, led by main maestra Marin Alsop, mixes old and new works by Tower, Bolcom, Ravel and Brahms when guest violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonneberg, globally renowned for her intense stage character, comes to call this week Boettcher Concert Hall, 14th and Curtis streets in the Plex. Salerno-Sonnenberg who was forced to cancel a CSO appearance two years ago because of a hand injury, makes her stunning return to the Denver stage tonight at 7:30; performances continue at the same time on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 on Sunday. CSO concert tickets range from $5 to $38; for reservations call 830-TIXS.
Pull party: Groundbreaking abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell, known for his mammoth, calligraphic black-and-white canvases, died in 1991, but he's something of a celebrity in these parts, thanks to the Denver Art Museum's recent and auspicious acquisition of twenty Motherwell paintings. The Robischon Gallery, at 1740 Wazee St., now shares a portion of the museum's limelight by presenting Robert Motherwell: Masterprints, a show and sale of works on paper from the artist's estate. An opening reception spotlighting the collection, which includes works in a variety of printmaking media, takes place tonight from 5 to 8; Motherwell's prints, along with a selection of sculptures by Creighton Michael in the gallery's Artforms wing, remain on display through March 8. For information call 298-7788.
Step lightly: When Acadian folk duo Benoit Bourque and Gaston Bernard throw a little of this and a little of that -- a Celtic lilt and French Canadian verve -- into the batter, the resulting product hits the skillet immediately light and airy. Bourque, whose rare skills include a virtuoso touch at tapping the bones and a limber, light-footed talent for step dancing, and Bernard, a dashing Quebecois at home with a variety of stringed instruments, bring their magical melodies and fancy footwork to Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St., tonight at 8 as guests of the Swallow Hill Music Association. Admission is $12 ($10 members); call 1-800-444-SEAT for tickets or 777-1003 for information.
Your taste in dance gravitates more toward the two step? Get ready for a blues-country hybrid, the irrepressible Texas eclectic Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, performing tonight at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Gate, a hotshot on fiddle and guitar, a spiffy dresser and a bona fide character, performs at 8; for tickets, $13 in advance ($15 at the door), call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
And if your definition of a light step implies a total absence of macho posturing, a new Colorado Female Musicians Showcase debuts tonight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., bringing the region's favorite musicial ladies to the stage over the coming months. Mother Folker members Vicki Taylor and Mary Stribling go their separate ways -- Taylor as a solo blues act and Stribling with her swinging Combo-Amazo -- this evening at 9:30; area musicians Julie Hoest, Liz Barnez, Mary Flower and Debra Schmidt-Lobis are just a few of the names scheduled to pop up at future concerts. Admission is $5; call 294-8281.
In the flesh: Protector of the First Amendment or sleazeball porn king extraordinaire? Hustler magazine mastermind Larry Flynt has been called -- and probably has been -- both. Flynt, the controversial subject of the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt, outlines both ideological paths in outspoken detail with An Unseemly Man: My Life as a Pornographer, Pundit and Social Outcast, a new memoir released in conjunction with the film. The flamboyant Flynt autographs copies of the book tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., numbers for a place in line will be available at 6:30. Call 322-7727.
You are what you eat: Usually a feast for the eyes and nose, the verdant Denver Botanical Gardens will appeal to another of your senses over the long holiday weekend. Surrender those tastebuds during Coffee & Tea at the Gardens, the first in a series of public Incredible Edibles programs sponsored by the DBG. Today through Monday, visitors at the gardens will be treated to samples, demonstrations and lectures; look for paeans to chocolate, tropical fruits and spices, herbs and other tempting botanical comestibles in the months to come. The DBG is located at 1005 York St.; Incredible Edibles programs are included in the regular $3 gate admission ($1.50 for seniors and students with IDs, $1 for children ages six to fifteen, and free for children five and under). Call 370-8020.
On the other hand, here it is the middle of January. Isn't it about time you broke that New Year's resolution about eating wisely? The third annual National Pie Championships get under way today at the Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th St., Boulder. In addition to pie judging in multiple categories, the two-day fest includes demonstrations, samples, exhibitions, cookbooks, kids' pie-making workshops and general pigging out. Eat, eat and be merry -- the championships take place today and tomorrow from 10 to 4; admission is $5 ($3 children twelve and under, students and seniors). And if you think you make the apple pie of everyone's eye, call 442-2911 for registration information.
Black is back: Stock show season just ain't quite stock show season without a taste of the Western wit and wisdom of humorist Baxter Black -- a laconic area veterinarian/poet/author who's made quite a name for himself nationwide. So take it easy, pardner: He finally does his thing at 7:30 tonight when the Westminster Community Artists Series presents Black and his campfire philosophizing, along with bluegrass artists Southern Exposure, at Ranum High School, 80th Avenue adn Zuni Street. Tickets range from $14 to $16; for reservations call 429-1999.
Up and running: Fans of Denver's outre music organization, the Creative Music Works, get back on track tonight with the first session of a new monthly series co-sponsored by the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music. Sax specialist and Lamont director of jazz studies Lynn Baker and his group WOYKS -- featuring Sam Coffman on keyboards and Marc Dalio on drums and synthesizer - revive the CMW's adventurous series with a two-part piece, Palindrome, that does just what it sounds like at the Houston Fine Arts Center, 7111 Montview Blvd. Tickets for the 7:30 performance are $8, with discounted series packages offered as well; for more information call 477-3081.
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Piece by piece: The Aurora History Museum starts off the first quarter of the new year by paying triple tributes -- honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (celebrated this month), African-American History Month (coming up in February) and Women's History Month (following in March) with a single, beautiful and all-encompassing folk-art exhibit. African-American Quilters and Collectors: The Legacy Continues, on display at the museum through March 30, explores cultural, historical and sociological heritage as interpreted by six African-American women. The talented sextet of quilters will be on hand at a reception today at 2; for details call 739-6660.
Love story: One supposes National Book Award finalist Amy Bloom chose a literal title for her first novel, Love Invents Us, because it's true. What could be more simple -- or more engaging? The Random House hardback gently scrutinizes the transformational and sometimes destructive powers of love with a keen eye and ear, making it the kind of eminently readable tome that goes well with a blazing fire or a bank of fluffy pillows. Bloom reads some passages tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; call 322-7727 for details.
Aural history: You'll have to read between the grooves when Tricky, a technologically sophisticated British bundle of musical nerves, transforms hip-hop into the instrument of his own highly personalized, dark poetry tonight at Boulder's Fox Theatre. Hailed as an innovator who breathes loose, uncanny life into a synthesized pathwork of sampled sounds, Tricky -- aka Adrian Thaws of Bristol, England -- spins his recorded web into a live pastiche tonight at the Fox, 1135 13th St. Intellectual rapper Jeru the Damaja opens the show at 9; for tickets, $13, call 447-0095 or 830-TIXS.
Dream time: A true woman of letters, writer Nikki Giovanni has earned her place in the American literary canon as a musical, politicized poet, essayist and author. Giovanni, also an accomplished lecturer who teaches at Virginia Tech, is a stirring and appropriate choice to keynote the University of Denver's week-long Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. Her talk, "If He Were Alive...Breaking Down Barriers and Cultivating Cultures," concludes DU's King events tonight at 7 in the General Classroom Building Auditorium, 2040 S. Race St. on the DU campus; a reception follows at 9. Admission is free and open to the public.