The Rio thing: Moonlight on water, feijoada and mangoes, miles of virgin sand, a gentle bossa nova, your lover's eyes--they all fall gently into the romantic territory of Ivan Lins, a Brazilian pop composer/performer who pads like a boy from Ipanema in the footsteps of the late Antonio Carlos Jobim. Enormously popular in Brazil, Lins is also a favorite with American musicians from Quincy Jones to Terence Blanchard, and a night at the Denver Botanic Gardens with the Rio-born tunesmith and his top-notch band should convince you to follow suit. Lins performs at the Gardens, 1005 York St., tonight at 7:15; for tickets, $19, call 777-3836 or drop by the DBG front-gate ticket office during business hours.
Tattoo you: Men in skirts and tattoos--sounds like your typical, garden-variety Saturday-night mosh pit. But throw in a bevy of bagpipes, drums, pomp, circumstance and some of those big, furry hats and, well, you get the picture: It all adds up to an old-country tradition not influenced in the least by the latest trends from L.A. or Seattle. The annual Longs Peak Scottish Highland Festival, set to roll this weekend in Estes Park, salutes Celtic culture with old-fashioned kilts and tattoos (Celtic for "massed bands"); jousting matches and a variety of antiquated sports and games; folk concerts featuring artists from Nova Scotia, Canada and the British Isles; an exhibit of rare, bushy-banged Highland cattle; a Grand March of Dogs with terrier races and other canine competitions; plenty of beer and single-malt Scotch whiskey for tasting; and much more, if that's possible. The first of three tattoos kicks off the event tonight at 7:30 at the Stanley Park Fairgrounds Arena; events continue daily through Sunday at the fairgrounds and other locations around Estes Park. Festival field passes are $5 to $22, and admission to individual events such as seminars, banquets and concerts ranges from $10 to $35 each; for information and reservations call 1-800-90-ESTES.
Nicaragua at night: If you're taken by the urge to kick up your heels to a Latin beat, the Helander Dance Theater's Hearth to Hearth Project has your number this weekend and next: In the second year of its program series celebrating the cultures of Boulder's sister cities, the troupe will present Si! Jalapa Dances!, a colorful, skirts-flying confection of dance and puppet theater inspired by the people and sights of Jalapa, Nicaragua. See the performance at 8 today and tomorrow at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, or next Friday and Saturday at the Space for Dance, 2590 Walnut, Boulder; to reserve tickets, $6 to $15, call 473-9438. In addition, a related visual-art exhibit, Waterdance, hangs through October 4 at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder; for gallery information call the number listed above.
Mo music: In an ambitious first for the United States, the Boulder Philharmonic's new Sinfonia of Colorado chamber ensemble debuts its Mozart Works for Everyone Series, a projected three-season string of concerts covering Mozart's entire fifty-piece catalogue of symphonic works, this weekend with premiere dates at the Boulder Theater (8 p.m. tonight, 2030 14th St., Boulder), Macky Auditorium (8 p.m. tomorrow, CU-Boulder campus) and Denver's Trinity United Methodist Church (7 p.m. Sunday, 1820 Broadway). For this program, guest soloist Martin Chalifour of the Los Angeles Philharmonic adds depth to the sweet strains of Mo's Violin Concerto No. 1; the composer's symphonies Nos. 1 and 41 will also be performed. Tickets range from $8 to $31 (series season tickets are available); call 449-1343.
Back in the saddle: Preserving Western folklore is a noble calling and a rip-roarin' fun one, too--which at least partially explains why some of us just mosey from one cowboy poetry gathering to another. If you're one of the faithful, you'll want to hitch up this weekend at the Morrison Cowboy Celebration, a festival of tall tales, crooning, yodeling and campfire philosophizing taking place today and tomorrow at the Morrison Town Hall, located on the Red Rocks-shadowed burg's main thoroughfare. Performers Bill Barwick, Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn, Maggie Mae Sharp, Brenn Hill and Bob Dougherty entertain nightly at 7; a barbecue precedes the show tomorrow at 5 at the Blue Cow restaurant, also on Main St. Performance tickets are $11 and the barby costs $10; to make reservations for both, call 697-1873.
Touch me, heal me: Even Mother Earth needs a little help once in a while, and you can not only lend her a hand but soothe your own soul as well at the Heal the Earth Celebration, a two-day, new-agey benefit at Red Rocks to raise bucks for the Nature Conservancy of Colorado and the Boulder-based American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Airy headline sounds will be provided by Paul Winter, Peter Kater, R. Carlos Nakai and others, while nonprofit organizations man information booths and exhibits and Native American community elders perform prayer ceremonies, music and dance. The event runs from noon to 10 today and sunrise to 10 tomorrow; admission is $15 daily or $26 for both days ($5 parking fee excluded). To reserve tickets call 1-800-642-7124; for additional information call 620-9332 or visit www.healthearth.com.
Chai times: You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy the Jewish Community Festival, but if you happen to be of the faith, you'll find the fest--taking place today from 10 to 4 at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St.--chock-full of information on where to pray, buy seder plates or order bar mitzvah invitations. And there will be plenty of music and dance, Bubbe-worthy home-cooking, arts and crafts, a children's area and a special free performance by Israeli rock group Esta--stuff that everyone can appreciate. Bring along canned foods or other non-perishable items (Food Bank of the Rockies will be collecting donations at the festival); for details call 399-2660.
Walk the walk: It's time to lace up your walking shoes for the tenth annual AIDS Walk Colorado, the community-based 10K trudge that makes a difference for the Colorado AIDS Project and other HIV/AIDS programs around the state. The walkathon, one of the area's largest pledge fundraisers, begins at 10 at Cheesman Park (it also ends there); arrive at 9 to sign in. For more information call 861-WALK.
Puppet love: Throwing your voice is one of those fantasy skills that nearly everyone yearns for at some point in life, but not many folks actually learn to do it. Jeff Dunham, a self-taught Dallas ventriloquist who began researching his trade at the age of seven with a Mortimer Snerd doll , is one of the few, and he's made a very funny career out of it. Dunham brings his odd crew of inanimates--including a fast-talking jalapeno, something called a "woozle" and the worm in a tequila bottle--to the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St., tonight at 8; for tickets and information call 595-3637.
The best things in life are free: What's smaller than a concert, bigger than a book-signing and free as a naked jaybird? How about the Wal-Mart Country Music Across America performances, a traveling road show of revolving country stars that crisscrosses the country putting on short free concerts followed by in-store album-autographing sessions? In our area, the Kentucky Headhunters and Garth-wannabe Rodney Atkins do Golden's Wal-Mart, 952 Swede Gulch Rd., tonight at 7; all you have to do is be there.
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Their hit parade: As songwriters, the sublime duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller did much more than write songs--they molded them, using humor, upbeat hooks and choruses and the help of great pop vocal ensembles such as the Coasters and Drifters to give the music its rich, unique shape. Smokey Joe's Cafe--The Songs of Leiber and Stoller, a Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award-winning Broadway revue, makes the pair's unforgettable legacy over once again--this time turning it into a full-fledged song-and-dance stage show that weaves a whole jukebox of swell material into the mix. Smokey Joe's national touring production opens tonight at 8 for a two-week run at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; performances continue daily except Monday, through September 21. Admission ranges from $15 to $46; call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Great big, beautiful dolls: Ordinarily a cranny-filled step back in time, Denver-style, the historic Byers-Evans House --a nearly spooky landmark at 13th and Bannock streets--is all dolled up for business these days: Along with its usual perfectly restored rooms and period attractions, the museum is hosting the Lang Doll Collection through the end of October. One hundred exquisite antiques, including porcelain-cheeked babies, hand-painted French fashion plates, character dolls and more, will be on display during regular exhibit hours, 11 to 3 Tuesday through Saturday; museum admission ranges from $1.50 to $3 (Colorado Historical Society members free). For information call 620-4933.
Border crossings: Stay at home in front of the boob tube today and you'll find yourself more than adequately culturally enriched. In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, KBDI-TV turns a chunk of tonight's--and this month's--programming over to explorations and celebrations of Hispanic culture in America. This evening Channel 12 airs a documentary history of the Santa Fe Trail at 7 and an Austin City Limits Tejano music showcase with Freddy Fender, Flaco Jimenez and some of their up-and-coming cohorts at 8; next Wednesday's lineup includes a look at life on the Texas-Mexico border and a video concert with Latino roots rockers Los Lobos. Special programming wraps up September 24 with Hidden Mexico, a unique art-and-eats travelogue of the Mexican provinces of Michoacan and Guerrero; point your remote to 12 or call 296-1212 for information.