Tale-telling hearts: Call it escapism, but everyone loves a story. And that simple truth is what fuels the annual Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival, a weekend retreat at Palmer Lake where you and your family can get deliciously lost as much as you like, at least for as long as it lasts. From start (Ghost Tales Under the Stars, 7:30 tonight at the Palmer Lake Village Green) to finish (a storytelling finale on Saturday night), the festival packs workshops, performances, story-swapping and even a Liar's Contest celebrating the tall tale into three evenings and two full days, making it one of the region's most imaginative and concentrated diversions of the summer. Festival events continue from 9 in the morning till 10 at night Friday and Saturday at Palmer Lake's town hall and elementary school; most, with the exception of a family concert at 1:30 Saturday, are recommended for children ages seven and up. Complete festival packages are $60 (discounted fees offered for children, seniors and families), and daily passes or tickets to individual events are also available, but space is limited; call 660-5849 or 1-800-484-6963, ext. 8253.
Jam packed: Bela Fleck plays banjo and Mike Marshall plays mandolin, guitar and fiddle, which means they're bluegrass players, right? And Edgar Meyer is a classically trained bassist, so he must play classical music, right? Wrong: All three musicians are unrepentant experimenters, dabbling like crazy in bluegrass, classical, jazz and other possible acoustic-music idioms. Together they're Bela Fleck, Mike Marshall and Edgar Meyer, an astonishingly chameleonic trio that basically does this in its spare time, when each member is unoccupied by individual projects. The threesome gets together for a sophisticated jam session tonight at 8 at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder; for tickets, ranging from $18 to $23, call 440-7666 or 830-TIXS.
One on one: Two men of the stage hog different spotlights tonight, but it's unlikely anyone will mind:
On the charming outdoor stage of the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., British Shakespearean actor Julian Glover, who's been seen on film in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Empire Strikes Back, will brighten two evenings with his one-man interpretation of Beowulf, a swashbuckling affair the whole family will love. Catch Glover's performance at 7:15 today and tomorrow; call 777-3836 to reserve tickets, $18 ($15 qualifying DBG members).
Thematically closer to home for most Americans, Father, Son and Holy Coach, a one-man bit starring comic actor/playwright John Posey, explores family interactions, sports-hero worship and other apple-pie national issues. Posey's heartwarming, semi-autobiographical performance plays Thursday through Sunday at the Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, through September 7; for showtimes and tickets, $19, call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Swing your partner: The young and cosmopolitan will tell you that swing dancing, sort of a cocktails-and-gowns reworking of the stalwart lindy hop, is the latest thing. So get your grandpa's zoot suit out of mothballs, dudes--it's time to kill the millennium in high style. The newly opened swing club 9th Avenue West, located in the old Cafe Communique space, at 99 W. 9th Ave., cries out for the cool--so what are you waiting for? Tonight and tomorrow, the trendy bistro not only serves up tapas and martinis, but also brings you Austin swingers 8 1/2 Souvenirs, a talented combo that mixes gypsy hot jazz, cabaret-style vocals and a good dollop of spiritual neon lighting; for information and reservations call 572-8006.
Our town: Yee-haw! No community celebration this side of the National Western Stock Show demonstrates this much old-fashioned cowtown hospitality. When Littleton swings open its gates tonight for Western Welcome Week, you'll yodel for joy. Events kick off tonight at 7:30 in Sterne Park, 5900 S. Spotswood St., when the Arapahoe Philharmonic treats the town to a pops concert, followed by a pops concert of a different color--fireworks--at 9. But that's just beginning: The Circo Garcia Circus of Mexico (a big-top entertainment that's all in the family--the Garcia family, that is) comes to the Arapahoe Community College campus for several performances tomorrow and Sunday; a Family FunFest full of flapjacks, fine art and Frisbee dogs also takes place at ACC Sunday. Miniature golf and volleyball tournaments, a LiDo (that's artspeak for downtown Littleton) artwalk, a volksmarch (or family walk) and other events are planned for the coming week. The entire celebration wraps up on August 16 at a Festival Day party of parades, live entertainment, arts and crafts, dancing, food and fun centered around Bega Park, 2300 W. Main St. Circus tickets range from $3 to $7 (five-ticket blocks are available in advance for $20), while most other events are free; for more information call the WWW hotline, at 794-2279, or visit www.littleton.org on the Web.
Old and on the way: Separated by only a few blocks, the Antique Row Festival, along South Broadway from Mississippi to Mexico avenues, and the Old South Pearl Street Fair, on the 1400 and 1500 blocks of South Pearl, co-exist happily under a comfortable similarity of spirit: Both take place over the weekend in the red-brick-and-Victorian heart of South Denver, where the pace of life is a little slower, a little greener and a little more neighborly, and both focus on hidden treasures waiting to be found. The Antique Row Festival, today from 10 to 5:30 and tomorrow from 10:30 to 5, concentrates on antique and collectible shops lining the Broadway stretch, while the South Pearl fete, which runs from 10 to 7 today and 10 to 6 tomorrow, shines a light on the area's little shops and fabulous restaurants; both events are free and include live music, art and entertainment.
Roots for the home team: You couldn't ask for a performer to be more rugged, raw or forthright than Steve Earle. The country troubadour/rocker, who weathered drugs, personal demons and prison during his career but still managed to come out on top creatively, is a complete package now--a new, improved, mature, consummate and rootsy songwriter who's, well, nothin' fancy. Along with NRBQ, an unsurpassed and long-lived definition of the perfect bar band, Earle quietly dazzles the E-Town crowd tonight at 8 at the Boulder Theater, 2030 13th St., Boulder. Admission is $9 in advance ($11 day of show); call 786-7030.
Tattoo you: Loosen up your lobes (and other puncture-ready body parts), Lolla-gaggers: Lollapalooza is back at Fiddler's Green, with the usual Lollapalooza hoopla and a carnival lineup that includes Prodigy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tool, Tricky and other in-the-moment alternative and rap acts. Gates at the suburban amphitheater, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., open at 11 a.m. and the music starts at 1; for tickets, a flat $26.50, call 830-TIXS.
The band's all here: You can't let the summer pass without getting your fill of oompah and circumstance--it's now, Oktoberfest or never for Denver's brass-band aficionados. As part of the city's free, outdoor Theatre in the Park series, the Denver Municipal Band will present an old-fashioned band concert today from 4 to 6 at the Greek Amphitheater in Civic Center Park, 14th and Acoma streets. Such an event simply cries out for lawn chairs, picnic baskets, Frisbees and kids, so be sure to bring plenty of each--and plan to salute the stars and stripes forever and be kind to your web-footed friends while you're there. To verify times, call 322-8608 or 770-2106.
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Walk on the wild side: Time to stop and smell the flowers, folks. Our wet July was a boon to Roxborough State Park wildflowers, making the picturesque preserve a bloomin' haven for all manner of late-season horticultural pretties and making the job of showing them off easy for Roxborough naturalist Helen Angel. Angel leads a free Wildflower Walk this evening at 6; all you have to do is show up. Of course, there's a flip side to every Eden--learn all about it at 6:30 Friday, August 15, when ranger Heather Poe leads an evening Weed Walk, during which you'll be enlightened about everything you ever wanted to know about pesky park plants. Programs are free, and reservations are not needed; call 973-3959 for information. The park, a geological cousin of Red Rocks to the north, is located at 4751 N. Roxborough Dr., Littleton; entering cars require a Colorado State Parks annual or $4 daily pass.
That dreadful feeling: When it comes to being creative, we're often under the inspirational influence of someone else. For eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter, it's reggae icon Bob Marley. Along with his Charlie Hunter Quartet, the adventurous acid-jazz axman Hunter rerecorded the 1974 album Natty Dread, evoking Marley's loose, choppy ghost in updated jazz terms. The band brings those turned-upside-down grooves to life tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $10.50, or information, call 443-3399, 830-TIXS.
A passage from India: Neither identical nor fraternal but rather a rare combination of the two, twins Rahel and Estha are unlikely protagonists in Arundhati Roy's acclaimed first novel, The God of Small Things, a chronicle interweaving major life themes across the colorful, swarming backdrop of modern India. Though Roy, who lives in New Delhi, was trained as an architect, she learned her way around the workings of a detailed plotline doing set design and screenplays; now the young author's being hailed as a major new voice in world literature. Roy reads tonight at 6 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; call 322-7727 for details.