Just put your lips together and blow: Folk art is just to look at and enjoy, right? Wrong. The wacky, whimsical works of Iowa carver Connie Roberts have hidden talents, as well: They're whistles. The outside might look like a tic-tac-toe board festooned with comic cats and dogs or Uncle Sam saluting atop a crisp dollar bill, but the whistles, which work just fine with a little help from you, hide inside. A laugh-out-loud exhibit of Roberts's charming painted and lacquered wooden creations opens tonight from 5 to 8 at the Brigitte Schluger Gallery, 265 Detroit St.; see the works there through July 19. Call 329-3150.
Angels heard on high: Like the leaves on aspen trees and fields of wildflowers, music in the mountains seems to spring up overnight, along with the temperate weather. The melodies will be flying this weekend as a number of festivals get under way.
The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Colorado's premier high-country hoedown, might seem like it's getting too sophisticated for its britches, with headliners such as Johnny Cash, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin continually changing the festival's face. But the four-day favorite in trendy Telluride, snug against the fabulous backdrop of the rugged San Juans, hasn't abandoned its first love: There'll be plenty of bluegrass from Telluride repeaters, including Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien and Peter Rowan. Relative newcomers on the folk circuit--notably, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Keb' Mo' and Ashley MacIsaac--will also be there, and maybe you will be, too. Area campgrounds fill up fast, as do other forms of lodging, and attendance is limited by the stretched accommodations of Mother Nature herself, so give Planet Bluegrass a call at 449-6007 or 1-800-624-2422 for information. The show begins today and continues through Sunday; admission is $120 for a four-day pass.
A funkier, ethnic lineup that includes Wilson Pickett, Gladys Knight, Tito Puente, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Santana tunes up tonight in the 2,500-seat Snowmass tent for Jazz Aspen at Snowmass, continuing through Sunday. Various weekend packages, starting at $141, are available, as are individual concert tickets; for information call 830-TIXS or 1-800-SNOWMASS.
And a short piece down the road in Aspen, the annual Aspen Music Festival, a time-honored, summer-long classical showcase featuring resident and visiting artists, gets going tonight at 8 with a piano recital by the 1997 Van Cliburn gold medalist at Aspen's Harris Concert Hall. Concerts are held at both indoor and outdoor venues; the graceful Bayer-Benedict Tent, which houses most shows, is surrounded by an inviting lawn perfect for freeloading listeners and sometimes features the sound of gently falling rain to accompany musicians. This year's festival, centered around a Love and Death theme, will include some opera, rock/pop performances and children's events, along with the usual orchestral and chamber concerts; for ticket information call 1-970-925-9042.
Well-rooted: A concert with Taj Mahal is like a fascinating lesson about indigenous folk music--he's been conjuring up an enlightening gumbo of country blues, Caribbean rhythms, New Orleans jazz and even a Hawaiian twang for years, leaving some 35 albums in his wake. His latest endeavor, with something called the Phantom Blues Band, picks up on an R&B drift, mixing up the countrified soul of Ray Charles with the Crescent City pop syncopations of Fats Domino and easygoing Chuck Willis. But no matter what genre Taj Mahal takes on, he ends up teaching you something about it. Classes begin tonight at 7:30 and 10:30 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Tickets are $21; call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS to reserve yours.
Seeking Solas: No one who hears Seamus Egan play believes he was born in the good old U.S. of A. By the age of fifteen, the Irish-American multi-instrumentalist was, after all, an All-Ireland Championship winner on flute. And tin whistle. And banjo. And, oh yeah, mandolin. But Egan isn't the only talent in his band, Solas, a sort of Celtic version of American new-grass. Fiddler Winifred Horan, button accordionist John Williams, guitarist John Doyle and haunting vocalist Karan Casey all add something unique to the mix, making Solas a major Celtic contender alongside top dogs Altan and Clannad. The group kicks off the Denver Botanic Gardens' summer concert series tonight at 7:15 with a lilting open-air show; for tickets, $19 ($16 DBG members), call 777-3836. The Gardens are located at 1005 York St.
Moptop memories: Don't look now, you rapidly ripening baby boomers, but your age is showing. Not only do you own the entire Beatles anthology, but you even remember that first awesome night when the Fab Four stormed American television on Ed Sullivan's really big shew. Demographically, you know you're the prime target audience for Yesterday: A Tribute to the Beatles, so just do it. Give in and go see for yourself: The impersonating foursome, decked out with authentic Beatle costumes, hairdos and musical gear, looks and sounds pretty much like the real thing, as long as you remove your specs. Next stop, Las Vegas? Nah--that's still Elvis country. Tickets to the show, tonight at 7:30 at the Arvada Center's outdoor amphitheater, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., are $17 for reserved seating or $10 for lawn seating; call 433-3939.
Women and children first: The annual Safehouse Run/Walk '97 has undergone some organizational changes, but the event still takes place for precisely the same reason: a chance to turn the public focus toward SafeHouse Denver's ongoing assistance programs for victims of domestic violence and raise funds for the same. Sounds okay to us. The race, being held this year in Washington Park, features several events, starting at 8:15 a.m. with a 5K run/walk for women and girls only; a fun run for little kids, an open 5K event, a diaper dash and a family stroll follow during the next couple of hours. Nobody gets left out at the finish line. Registration fees range from $12 to $25; for details call 892-8400.
Tried and true: Red Rocks and Lyle Lovett are beginning to look like a solid tradition--there's something about the two that says "glom." And we mean right together. Maybe it's the hair and the way it emulates the rocks, towering loftily against the evening stars; more likely it's the mood that Lovett's songs evoke: romantic, with a chip on its lanky shoulder, and smoky as an Alabama roadhouse. Throw in the hell of a hand-picked band Lovett always seems to bring along, matching his wit note for note, and you've got a night for the ages. Where else could it happen but at Red Rocks? The rest of the bill is solid as the rocks as well: Alison Krauss & Union Station, starting the show off nicely at 7:30, blend bluegrass with some of the sweetest country-pop music this side of the mighty Miss. For tickets, $25, call 830-TIXS.
Black & blues: Is buzz-saw metal deader than a doorknob? Heck, no: Spandex 'n' hair metal seems to have lost its, um, charm with the throngs, but deep, dark, crunchy, leathery metal still has an audience, and Ozzfest is coming to town to prove it. Led by the Ozz himself, Ozzy Osbourne, the headbanging ball features a Black Sabbath reunion with original members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, creepy-crawly Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Type O Negative and others at Mile High Stadium, beginning at 12:30 this afternoon. In addition, there'll be a second stage called Never Never Land, a carnival midway with rides, counterculture vendors (we presume that means tattoos and other mutilations) and food. Drone on! Tickets are $32.50; call 830-TIXS.
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Feminist fatale: Bra burning? Didn't dinosaurs do that? A provocative and controversial leader of a modern, streamlined feminist movement who's unafraid to use proper foundations, Naomi Wolf takes on the female rite of passage in her third book, Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle Toward Womanhood. An exploration of sexuality and young women, the study is shot with Wolf's own witty insights; she'll discuss and sign the book tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St. Call 436-1070.
Water world: We all know how the Colorado River starts as a trickle in the Colorado high country and begins its grand sweep down to Mexico. But the entire truth of what happens to the river between here and there is something we're not quite so clear on. Fortunately, the four-part documentary Cadillac Desert, based on a pair of candidly investigative books exploring water-use issues and history in the West, is a sure shot to fill in the holes. In the first episode, Mulholland's Dream, director Jon Else (who also made The Day After Trinity, a definitive bio of atom-bomb researcher Robert Oppenheimer) intercuts footage from John Huston's film classic Chinatown with the real story of Los Angeles water czar William Mulholland. Interviews with a diverse group of onlookers, from Mulholland's granddaughter, Catherine, to Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne, enhance the program's fact-to-fiction qualities and help to expose the wholesale exploitation of scarce water supplies by greedy Los Angeleno kingpins. The first episode airs tonight at 9 on KRMA-TV/Channel 6; future installments look at the damming of the Colorado River, the transformation--and what some call a ruination--of California's Central Valley through extensive irrigation, and power struggles taking place over water use in other countries.
Big wheels: Bumpity-bump. Hope your mountain bike's got a nice, comfy seat. You and your tush will need one during the Crested Butte Fat Tire Festival, a five-day celebration of off-road cycling designed to appeal to anyone with a helmet and a ride. A mixture of pro events (featuring one of the nation's most dizzying downhill races) and recreational rides for the rest of us, the festival also offers an obstacle course, clinics, parties, and circuit and cross-country events for those brave enough to test their mettle. Packages including lodging start at $177 for three days; for more information call 1-800-484-5737.