Where you been? Songwriters don't come any tougher--or any more tender--than Austin musician Lucinda Williams, whose songs have been snatched up and made into hits by the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris. After holing up for months, painstakingly recording a long-awaited followup to her 1992 album Sweet Old World, Williams has come out of hiding long enough to grace the stage at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., tonight at 7. Tickets are $15; call 322-2308 or 1-800-444-SEAT.
Just Cos: Once you've established yourself as one of the funniest men on earth, there's not much more anyone can say in praise of you. Bill Cosby is simply a classic, a man who has built his comic repertoire solidly on the stuff of everyday foibles and those darned things kids do and say. A prime-time television mainstay, best-selling author and quintessential standup, Cosby will turn on the laughs tonight at the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, where he'll appear for two shows, at 6 and 9 p.m. Admission ranges from $15 to $50; if you want to experience the fun of Halloween rather than the excesses, call 893-4100 to reserve seats.
Weird tales: Maybe it has to do with the masks, but some folks seem to think Halloween is one sexy fiesta. If you count yourself in, check out the torrid Tango x 2, a presentation of Argentinian music and dance hot enough to light a bonfire that will go up in flames this weekend at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Choreographed by esteemed tango dancers Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs and starring singer Roxana Fontan, a sultry band and four pairs of the most sinfully slinky hoofers in the world, the program will make its debut tonight at 8, with repeat performances at 8 p.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m. Sunday. Ticket prices range from $16 to $38; call 830-TIXS.
If you're feeling especially wanton, you might want to reserve seats for Theatre of the Vampires, a returning Halloween aerial dance production inspired by Anne Rice's vampire trilogy. An all-new, revamped version featuring a juggling emcee on stilts and a belly-dancing bat will swing from the rafters of the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, tonight at 8 and 11 and tomorrow at 8 p.m. only. For tickets, $17 and $21, call 786-7030; for information call 444-5569.
You might feel like swinging from the rafters yourself tonight at St. John's Cathedral in Denver, where a Phantom of the Opera-worthy Halloween Concert of Organ Duets is slated for the spooky hour of 8. St. John's organist/choirmaster Donald Pearson and assistant John Repulski plan to go keyboard-to-keyboard in the cathedral, located at 14th and Washington; costumes are welcome and admission is free, but donations will be accepted. For details call 831-7115, ext. 25 or 26.
Not exactly Halloween, but close enough is the Dia de los Muertos Celebration thrown annually by the Pirate art gallery. Modeled after the south-of-the-border observance to honor the dead, Pirate's revel will include a 7:30 p.m. costume-and-candlelight procession to the nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, followed by pinatas, live music and a backdrop of handmade altars on display back at the gallery. Pirate is located at 3659 Navajo St.; call 458-6058 for information.
Caught between a Lady Godiva and a bedsheet with two holes in it? Do you have too many places to go and nothing to wear this Halloween? Nobody's making any promises, but here's a last resort: The Red Rocks Community College Theatre rents costumes all year long, making it possible for you to go out into the night as anything from a dinosaur to a harem girl anytime you want. The cost of rentals runs from $5 to $75. The RRCC campus is located at 13300 W. 6th Ave.; for information or to check costume availability, call 914-6458 or 914-6231.
Read on: In spite of its surplus of sports bars and ski bums, Denver is a book town. And that's never more evident than during the Rocky Mountain Book Festival, a sprawling annual event that provides a veritable three-ring circus of exhibits, demonstrations, performances, book signings, author discussions and endless other paeans to the written word. Taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at Currigan Exhibition Hall, 1324 Champa St., the festival covers just about every book-related aspect under the sun, from poetry to cartoons. This year's Main Stage guests include author-activist Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winner and New Yorker contributor Art Spiegelman, Moosewood Cookbook originator Mollie Katzen, self-help maven Melody Beattie and a host of others. Admission is $1 to $3 (children under three admitted free); call 839-8320.
Lighten up!: Don't ever find yourself stuck on the bottom of the Amazon River without a flashlight: That's the lesson you'll learn when viewing Electric Fish, a far-out new exhibit opening to the public today in the Denver Zoo's already nifty Tropical Discovery pavilion. You'll see not only electric eels and eye-catching neon tetras, but also sightless deep-sea denizens that scan the murk with electroreceptors. Deliciously outlandish? You bet--just ask any kid. Special live demonstrations will add an additional shock for visitors through November 9; the exhibit, which is included in regular zoo admission, continues through the end of April. The zoo is located in City Park, at 2300 Steele St.; Tropical Discovery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call 331-4100 for additional information.
In your face: There's no denying it: Dan Bern's new CD does bear a fleeting resemblance to a certain folk-singing urchin from Hibbing, Minnesota. Minutes into the spin, however, you'll also realize just how much Bern is his own songwriter. His topical litany includes musings on the Oklahoma City bombing, suburbia and Marilyn Monroe--all subjects you'll view through new eyes when Bern sings about them tonight at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St. Two shows are scheduled, at 8 and 10 p.m.; for tickets, $12 ($10 members), call 777-1003.
Younger than yesterday: Want to hear some other kids who have no problem finding creative, poignant and disturbing ways to express themselves? Take a swat at Fresh Bugs, which features teenage poet/performers David Blatt, Jeni Murphy, Alyssa Carver, Daniel Scheimberg and Drew Tittle along with older guest poets, musicians, storytellers and filmmakers. The Bug brigade will kick off what's to become a weekly Sunday night occurrence at the Bug Media and Performance Center, 3654 Navajo St. The free-form celebration of the imagination gets under way at 7; admission is $3. Call 477-5977.
Ragged glory: One might argue that no rock star has performed under the shifting mantle of his own mystique longer than Neil Young, one of the few members of the pop-music old guard who never seems to lose critical respect. His on-again, off-again collaborators over the years--Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Poncho Sampedro of Crazy Horse--have kept up with Young along the way, not just backing him up, but matching and sparring with his genius at every turn. A big fan himself, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (Stranger Than Paradise, Night on Earth) has focused his lens on the symbiosis between Young and his musical cohorts. The resulting flick, Year of the Horse, is a combination of concert footage, interviews and pure ethos in a bottle. The intimate rock-doc, which made its premiere recently at the Denver International Film Festival, is now in mid-run at the Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway. We can't think of a better way to avoid Monday Night Football. For showtimes and ticket prices, call 744-6796.
A stitch in time: Fans of the textile arts might want to cast their ballots today for two new quilt exhibits in the area: The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, 111 Washington Ave., Golden, is taking a break from its revolving series of exhibits to showcase Favorites From the Museum Collection, a gorgeous array of hand-stitched comforters that includes a silk crazy quilt, beautifully complex appliqued pieces and a quilt made from dress scraps by pioneer women. The show continues at the museum through January 3; admission is $2. Call 277-0377.
Boulder Under Cover, which just opened at the Boulder Museum of History, 1206 Euclid Ave. in Boulder, is celebrating intricate quilts with a Boulder background, including a delicate trapunto work, doll-sized blankets, a storytelling album quilt and a racy coverlet pieced from old long johns. The show runs through November, and it's only one of the many exhibits on display at the museum. For details call 449-3464.
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Great Scots: Musical magic drifts into town on gossamer wings tonight when Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean, a veteran of the Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard, pairs up with finger-style guitarist Bert Jansch, an outright master of technique and a cornerstone of the classic British folk-rock trio Pentangle, at Cameron Church, 1660 S. Pearl St. Tickets are $13 to $15; call 1-800-444-SEAT.
Wayne's World: Safe in the knowledge that his lovely wife is back among the conscious after being leveled by a pane of flying safety glass, hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky will lead the New York Rangers into McNichols Arena tonight at 7 for a shootout with the Colorado Avalanche. Tickets are sold out for the Great One's lone Denver appearance this season, but grab a cold Molson's and turn your TV to the Fox Sports Rocky Mountain cable channel to catch the action. Can the Gretz outskate Super Joe Sakic? Take off, hoser