Thrills for the week

February 27
West side, east side: A rich vein of local lore gets the nod today with a Jewish History of Denver Tour offered by the Colorado Historical Society. The traveling lecture, led by Denver resident Marjorie Hornbein, begins with an introductory talk at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, and continues with a bus excursion to important Jewish sites, past and present, on both the west and east sides of town. Among other places, you'll visit an orthodox yeshiva, old and new sites of the Temple Emanuel congregation and the Mizel Museum of Judaica between 8:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; transportation and a kosher lunch are included in the tour fee of $35 ($30 for CHS members). Enrollment is limited; for additional information or to reserve a seat on the bus, call 866-4686.

Up, up and away: These days, space is the place, so why shouldn't the Colorado Symphony Orchestra get on the bandwagon? Maestra Marin Alsop presides this weekend over A Night in Space, a light yet rocket-fueled foray into orchestral music inspired by the cosmos. She'll lead the CSO through all your heavenly favorites, from Richard Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra, which played prominently in Stanley Kubrick's 2001, to the unmistakable theme from Star Trek. Travel to faraway galaxies with Alsop and the CSO tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 at Boettcher Hall, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; night turns to day for a 2:30 matinee on Sunday. Tickets range from $5 to $38; call 830-TIXS for reservations.

February 28
Out in the cold: If you're a lover of the great outdoors, it's where you want to be, even if you happen to be the armchair brand of adventurer. For your ilk, the Banff Festival of Mountain Films, held each November in Alberta, Canada, is the big daddy of outdoorsy cinema, where filmmakers who often must be as handy on a steep mountainside as the intrepid trekkers they shoot compete for public and peer recognition. And once the prizes are divvied at Banff, the whole shebang--or at least the awe-inspiring best of it--hits the road on a journey that brings it to the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, tonight at 8. Films about everything from rock climbing to dog sledding highlight this year's breathtaking festival showcase; to purchase tickets in advance, $8, call 786-7030 or drop by any local REI store.

Pickin' line: How do three diverse guitarists from around the globe--a Japanese picker whose introduction to his instrument came by way of vintage surf-guitar music, a Belgian rocker with a thing for J.S. Bach, and an eclectic, apple-pie American from Salt Lake City--meet up in the first place? In the case of Hideo Moriya, Bert Lams and Paul Richards, best known as the California Guitar Trio, they did it by simply playing guitar. All at once, as participants in progressive-guitar god Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft seminars and incipient Fripp ensembles, including the multitudinous League of Crafty Guitarists. Then what separates this trio from the rest of the nimble-fingered riffraff? Well, for starters, there's their repertoire, which ranges freely from the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to "Walk, Don't Run." The rest you can credit to a certain impudent joie de vivre: They play the Bach on steel-stringed acoustic instruments, and they shy away from any attempt at categorization. The trio appears tonight and tomorrow at 8 at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St.; and if things didn't already sound interesting enough, fellow pluckers Trey Gunn (you know him as the "second" guitarist in King Crimson) and Bill Janssen (a veteran who's also worked behind Fripp and Adrian Belew) open the show. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; call 623-0524.

Saving Bonds: In this full-color world, black-and-white photography is far from dead--one need only view the sharp-edged work of master shutterbug Howard Bond to get the message loud and clear. Bond, who works with large-format view cameras and uses masking techniques during printing to obtain exceedingly keen images, will be on hand when an exhibit of recent works, including limited-edition portfolios "English Churches" and "Bristlecone Pines," opens tonight at the Camera Obscura Gallery, 1309 Bannock St. Attend an artist's reception from 5:30 to 8:30; the show continues through March 30. For information call 623-4059.

March 1
Sister, sister: Fans of French Canadian duo Kate & Anna McGarrigle can only accept that the sisters are slow and careful when it comes to producing new work. But the wait is worth it: When the McGarrigles finally craft another mint recording, it's invariably a work of burnished depth, merging pithy storytelling, vulnerable harmonies and front-porch instrumentation into a gentle, sentient package of real-life moments. Their recent release, Matapedia, named for a river that skirts the foothills of the Appalachians in eastern Quebec, is just such a tender and bittersweet animal. The quavery-voiced siblings take the stage tonight at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, where folk-circuit favorite Geoff Muldaur opens at 8, with help from Austin's versatile Stephen Bruton.  

Admission is $14 ($12 for Swallow Hill Music Association members); call 786-7030 or 1-800-444-SEAT to reserve tickets.

Rock around the clock: It's yee-haw time--with a bit of the twist--when the Bluebird Theater hosts a Big "K" Barn Dance tonight at 7. Featuring hillbilly and roots music galore provided by Austin hellraisers the Horton Brothers, Salt Lake's Atomic Deluxe and local yokels the Dalhart Imperials and the Throttlemen, the party is nothing more--and nothing less--than a great chance to kick up your heels, so don't be late, pardner. The Bluebird is at 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $8, call 322-2308.

March 2
On beyond Schindler: Less well-known than Holocaust heroes Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler, Chiune Sugihara--then the Japanese Consul in Lithuania--issued visas to over 6,000 European Jews, allowing them passage to safer climes and saving their lives in the process. Sugihara, who died in 1986 but whose legacy is carried on by his son, Hiroki, is the focus of this month's Holocaust Awareness Events, sponsored by the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center and other area Judaic organizations and taking place today in Boulder and Tuesday in Denver. The younger Sugihara and one of the thousands his father helped, Rabbi Gerson Chanowitz, will speak today from 2 to 4 at Burbank Middle School Auditorium, 290 Manhattan Drive, Boulder; for tickets, $5 to $7, call 494-2285. The program repeats at 7 p.m. March 4 in the JCC's Pluss Theater, 350 S. Dahlia St.; call 871-3013.

Fiddler on the hoof: Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac not only wows you with his whirlwind instrumental prowess, but he's also mighty light on his feet, making every performance a tour de force of tornado-like energy expenditure on stage. It makes us sweat just thinking about it. The athletic MacIsaac could upstage anyone, but tonight at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., it won't be necessary--he tops the rollicking bill, with opener Tara MacLean starting things off at 8. Tickets are $8 to $10; call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.

March 3
Slow boat to China: Last chances so frequently go untaken. Don't let it happen to you. The Denver Museum of Natural History's spectacular Imperial Tombs of China exhibit ends March 16, giving you only about two more weeks to see it before it moves on. In conjunction with the blockbuster show, which includes a group of life-sized terra cotta figures, the museum hosts Folk and Minority Arts, the last in a series of lectures held in Ricketson Auditorium. Admission to tonight's 7 p.m. talk by DMNH ethnology curator Joyce Herold is $9 ($6 members); call 322-7009. Timed admission to the Tombs exhibit, ranging from $7.50 to $9.50, is best arranged in advance; call 322-4462 for reservations.

March 4
Bare essentials: Strip men and women of all their civilized pretensions and the truth becomes evident: We're simply sophisticated mammals who use tools and walk in an upright position, driven by instincts and biological directives as old as, well, the cavemen. Playwright-actor Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman, a comic one-man exploration of relationships that's also a record-breaking Broadway hit, deftly combines science and craft in a brave attempt to explain some of life's little mysteries we heretofore considered inex-plicable. Becker brings Caveman to the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, for a three-week run beginning tonight at 8. Shows continue daily except Monday, through March 23; for showtimes or to reserve tickets, ranging in price from $15 to $40, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.

You are what you write: In her earlier novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent, author Julia Alvarez mirrored her own personal experience by eloquently depicting an emigrant Dominican family's assimilation process in the United States. Her new work, Yo!, focuses on the further acculturation adventures of Yolanda, one of the middle sisters and the one who seems most closely patterned after Alvarez herself. Alvarez is in town for a pair of book signings today--catch her at 5 p.m. at the Cultural Legacy Bookstore, 3633 W. 32nd Ave., or at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., where she reads at 7:30 p.m. For details call 964-9049 or 322-7727.

March 5
Practice makes perfect: How often have you wished to fall headlong into a beautiful bath of music, with nothing else on your agenda than the sweet strains of instrumentalists at work? These days it comes off as utter fantasy, yet faculty and students at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music will endeavor to make it perfectly possible. Between 10:30 a.m. and 3:40 p.m. today, they'll participate in A Day at Lamont, a public event at the Houston Fine Arts Center, Montview Blvd. and Quebec St., that combines practice and performance with lectures and demonstrations for all. The full day's entertainment costs $25 per person and includes lunch; reserve tickets no later than February 28 by calling 688-2597 or 694-9101.  

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