What's new? In every swarm of musicians, there are always a few adventurous souls who aren't satisfied with playing the same old thing. Now a handful of the area's intrepid music makers, the Modern Chamber Players, with help from the Boulder Philharmonic, are celebrating la difference with a Modern Music Festival--heretofore known as M2F--at the CU-Boulder College of Music during May. The event is a mixture of seminars, workshops, children's activities and concerts that spotlight an eclectic cross-section of guest artists, including composer/keyboardist William Albright, performance artist Pamela Z, jazz reed player Chico Freeman, and African kora master Foday Musa Suso, each of whom concentrates on a different aspect of contemporary music. The fest concerts, which all take place at the College of Music, 18th and Euclid, CU-Boulder campus, kick off tonight at 8 with a bill of works by Albright, Eakin and Harbison, as well as the world premiere of this year's M2F Composer Competition winning work. Concert admission is $8 to $12 ($24-$40 for festival series tickets); all workshops are free. For concert dates and other information call 449-1343.
Dublin calling: Despite its size, Ireland seems to have more than its share of musical supergroups. And by some stroke of luck, two of the biggest play Denver tonight.
On the traditional side, no one exemplifies Irish music as consummately as the Chieftains, about whom little more need be said. The beloved group, led by Uileann pipe player Paddy Moloney, have now been performing their country's ancient melodies--and recently embarking on updated collaborations--for 34 years without signs of letting up. They charm local fans tonight at 7:30 at the Paramount Theatre, 1621 Glenarm Pl.; Galician bagpiper Carlos Nunez--a treat all on his own--joins them as a guest. For tickets, $22.50 to $32.50, call 830-TIXS.
No less Irish but maybe more accustomed to presentation on a grander scale, U2 also requires little introduction: The band is simply one of the biggest on the planet, and its international PopMart tour runs away with that theme by featuring the world's largest television screen, a 100-foot-high golden arch, a 12-foot-wide illuminated olive and other gargantuan stage props guaranteed to be seen easily from the uppermost decks of Mile High Stadium. Rage Against the Machine opens for U2 at 7 p.m.; tickets are $37.50 and $52.50. Call 830-TIXS.
Build it and they will come: Guess what? A couple of years ago they decided to throw a Friday evening gallery walk in LoDo every month--and it worked! One by one, other gallery enclaves in town followed suit by initiating their own monthly open-house events. The latest addition to that list is the Golden Triangle Arts District's First Friday event, to be held for the first time tonight from 5 to 9 in the area bounded by Lincoln, Colfax and Speer. Among the galleries participating are Hal Gould's well-respected Camera Obscura, 1309 Bannock St. (623-4059), currently showing Jacko Vassilev: Photographs of Bulgaria, through May 4; the relocated Abend Gallery, 899 Broadway (527-3081), opening a new show of works by artists of the Channel Six Art Auction; the folks-friendly Denver Buffalo Company Gallery, 1109 Lincoln St. (832-0885), offering Three Artists From Chicago, with works by Buffalo Kaplinski, Donna Polivka and Ray Kobald; and the Colorado Vintage Poster Gallery, 138 W. 12th Ave. (436-0225), where a show of antique Western film posters opens tonight. Call any of the galleries for details.
Waters brigade: There will never be another Pink Flamingos, and perhaps it's just as well. Even director John Waters called the depraved but groundbreaking 1972 comedy "an exercise in poor taste." But that's the point, isn't it? Bad taste never goes out of style.
Starring the late, great, trashy cross-dresser Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey and other members of the Waters stable, Flamingos, rereleased this spring with added footage and commentary by the director, is the first offering in the Mayan Theater's summer-long Out Film Series featuring films with gay, lesbian or bisexual characters. To celebrate these various premieres and re-premieres, the Mayan, 110 Broadway, will host a Pink Party tonight at 9:30 p.m., prior to the film's late screening. Prizes will be given for trashiest attire and the best Divine look-alike, and drag queens weighing more than 300 pounds are promised free admission. Give it your best shot (and don't forget that pink hair is worth a bonus prize). For more information, call 744-6796.
People's parties: It's around the corner from May Day--the time of year to dance, drum, run, swim, crawl and otherwise get down in the streets, soccer fields, concert halls and reservoirs everywhere. It's just that kind of a goofy Saturday in spring when you can do all of the above, should you so choose:
The Cinco de Mayo Celebration today and tomorrow at Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway, honors one of the region's hottest holidays with the spicy food, colorful art and dance, boisterous music and whimsical handcrafts of Mexico, as well as an amazing display of lowrider cars and bikes. Attend the free festival from 10 to 7 both days; special events include a Celebrate Cultures Parade today at 11 and a traditional Mariachi Mass at 10 on Sunday.
Remember the part about swimming and crawling? Don't forget it's time for the annual KBCO/Budweiser Kinetics Sculpture Challenge, a comical competition featuring one-of-a-kind, human-powered sculptural crafts that make their way across the Boulder Reservoir. Gates open at 6:30 a.m. for a pancake breakfast, balloon festival and volleyball tournament; the race gets under way at 11. Immediately afterward, at 11:30, everyone will be treated to a concert by the Ugly Americans and JackoPierce. Admission is $25 per carload, or $3 for walk-ins. For details, call 444-KBCO.
Just wanna bang on a drum? If spring is doing a number on your hormones, give in to your primal alter ego--Mkono, a Fort Collins ensemble of accomplished world beaters, can help. The percussion group focuses on global rhythms tonight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., beginning with a drumming workshop at 8:30 before getting down for a concert/rhythm jam at 9:30. The evening, a benefit for the National and Colorado Rainbow Family, ends with Boulder blues rockers Double Dose at 11:30; admission is $7. Call 294-9258 or 595-1077.
Bern again: The older you get, the more cynical you become, especially when it comes to speculation over this year's latest New Bob Dylan. But whether you're old enough to remember the Real Bob Dylan or not, angry young folk-poet Dan Bern gives the title a good run for its money, recalling Dylan's bitter, effusive delivery while forging ahead in his own distinct, personal direction. That has lately taken him on the regional rounds, but if you've missed him up to now, you can still catch this rolling stone tonight at E-Town, beginning at 7 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder. Laura Love, who calls her traditionally based musical weave "Afro-Celtic," also appears; for tickets, $9 to $11, call 786-7030.
Pub crawl: How do you raise money for a Bug? Well, you could take your traveling flea circus on the road or camp on the side of the road, selling beeswax and honey. Or you could throw a party with flamenco music, belly dancing, magic tricks, tarot readings, street performers, a silent auction and plenty of microbrewed beer. The Bug Bottom Bash--a benefit for the Bug Performance and Media Art Center on Navajo Street--is all that and more. Festivities take place tonight from 6 to 10 at the Rock Bottom Brewery, 1001 16th St.; admission, which includes two pints and a tasty appetizer buffet (better make a beeline for that), is $15 at the door. Bug members will be admitted free; call 477-5977 for details.
Screen savers: Independent filmmakers don't expect the kind of recognition given Spielberg and the rest of his Hollywood ilk. That doesn't mean they don't want recognition--kudos from little people like us are just fine with them. So try putting your hands together when the Creative Film Group, a cooperative dedicated to promoting Colorado filmmakers, screens 16mm short works by some of its best tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Call 477-5040 for more information.
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Walk on the wild side: Punch-drunk or punching buttons--you can have it your way tonight. The high-energy Saw Doctors, an Irish band fusing rock and folk in a furious, if good-natured, manner, take the stage tonight at 8 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. An updated, rollicking version of the good old-fashioned pub band, the Doctors might just be the next big thing on the Celtic circuit. Tickets are $10; call 322-2308 or 830-TIXS.
On the other hand, The Orb--also from across the Atlantic, though you could say that, stylistically, the U.K. electronic-trance-music duo comes from across the galaxy--will do all the button-punching this evening when they perform at their knobs and dials at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave. Alex Peterson (a doctor of another sort) and fellow twiddler Andy Hughes may not get you to tap your feet, but they'll give you something to talk about. For tickets, $16, call 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Give 'em the slip: One of the Foothills Art Center's most popular annual juried shows, the Colorado Clay Exhibition 1997 is anything but stuck in the mud. This year's show, a nice scattering of functional, nonfunctional and totally useless ceramic works created exclusively by Colorado artists, includes everything from a pair of leviathan tootsies with toenails you're invited to paint to more familiar and exquisitely crafted vases and vessels you're invited to look at and admire. The clay exhibit continues through June 8; for information, call 279-3922. Foothills is located at 809 15th St. in Golden.
Starr-struck: A Ringo is a Ringo is a Ringo--there's no mistaking Ringo for anyone else. The former Beatles drummer, an instantly recognizable icon, is also an easygoing bloke--the rare showman who never flaunts his charisma and is happy to share the spotlight with others. In that spirit, Ringo's been throwing together one supergroup after another since 1989, taking each successive grouping on tour under the banner of Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band. This year's model is one big blast from the past: Guitarists Peter Frampton and Dave Mason, keyboardist Gary Brooker, bassist Jack Bruce, drummer Simon Kirke and horn man Mark Rivera head the lineup, each bringing his own collection of hits to the band's repertoire. Catch them tonight at Fiddler's Green, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd.; tickets to the 7:30 show range from $17.50 to $25. Call 830-