Thrills for the week

Thursday
January 22
New developments: The fruit of the lens--taken from every angle--blossoms tonight at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., where a reception to introduce a trio of new photographic exhibitions will take place from 7 to 10. The human form, one of photography's oldest and most enduring subjects, inspired The Body and the Lens: Photography 1839 to the Present, a touring historical retrospective that includes works by a wide range of trendsetting photographers, from Brassa to Diane Arbus, while On the Edge: Photo Based focuses on works by local artists Jean Casbarian, Craig Coleman and David Zimmer that utilize--but are not confined to--photography. A third show, Desert Adagio, brings the Utah desert to life in black-and-white works by Doug Rhinehart. All three exhibits remain on view through March 29; call 431-3939 for details.

Friday
January 23
Act accordionly: The squeezebox isn't so noble, but the Volkswagen bug of musical instruments comes in infinite forms, and it culture-hops with cheerful abandon. And though it's sometimes dressed up with shiny chrome, glitter and a jillion buttons or keys, the accordion can also be as plain and uncomplicated as a sailor's unembellished, seaworthy concertina. Tonight the instrument's enduring mongrel history gets put in beautiful perspective when Once Upon an Accordion comes to town, with Ireland's John Whelan, France's Daniel Thonon and England's Chris Parkinson and their respective boxes in tow. Each is an accordion virtuoso in his own right: Whelan has won more than a dozen accordion championships and performed with Riverdance; the classically trained Thonon has composed music for Cirque du Soleil and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion; and Parkinson, who is as apt to segue into swing jazz as he is to stick with a stolid hornpipe, also tours with Green Linnet artists the House Band. Together they'll whisk you through Irish reels, Cajun waltzes, folk dances, polkas and maybe a Bulgarian boro or two tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.. For tickets, $15, call 830-TIXS; for additional information, call 777-0502.

Different strokes: Eclecticism is a hallmark of jazz's fusion generation, whose most prominent members love to flit adventurously from ensemble to ensemble, ever in search of new solutions to eternal musical questions. Guitarist John Scofield is surely a leader of that pack: His portfolio includes a kaleidoscopic barrel of projects, including a stint with Miles Davis, an organ-drum trio, a poignant duo with Pat Metheny and his recent orchestrated turn, Quiet, recorded on a nylon-string acoustic guitar with a ten-piece horn section backing him up. The Boulder Theater's Winter Jazz Series presents Scofield tonight at 8 with a hand-picked quartet that includes Larry Goldings, Dennis Irwin and longtime Scofield timekeeper Bill Stewart on drums; admission ranges from $15 to $22. The theater is at 2030 14th St. in Boulder; call 786-7030.

Bach to basics: Nobody doesn't like J.S. Bach--it isn't humanly possible. The great Baroque composer's soothing and cerebral fugues, concerti and cantatas cast a lasting spell over audiences that can't seem be broken--hence the Boulder Bach Festival, an annual tradition devoted to nothing but. This year's fest, taking place at Macky Auditorium on the CU-Boulder campus, will feature local musicians and works for multiple instruments: Double violin and piano concerti lead off concerts tonight and tomorrow at 8, and a rare concerto for four harpsichords will be performed Sunday at 2. To reserve tickets, $11 to $30 per concert (series tickets range from $59 to $81), call 332-1580. Festival highlights, including the Ascension Oratorio and the Magnificat, will be reprised Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Denver at St. John's Episcopal Church, 14th and Washington; call the number listed above for tickets, $15 and $20. For more information call 494-3159 or log on to http://www.aescon.com/ music/ bbf/index.htm.

Saturday
January 24
The old Ball game: California musician Patrick Ball started out as an Irish history major without a future and ended up a Celtic harpist of great repute, specializing in an old-fashioned, brass-strung instrument played with the fingernails. But his love for Ireland's lyrical culture and old stories persevered as well, and eventually Ball found a way to put it all together. For his one-man musical-theater piece, O'Carolan's Farewell to Music, written with Peter Glazer, he becomes poet Charles MacCabe--friend to legendary eighteenth-century Irish bard and composer Turlough O'Carolan--to recount in story and song the English decimation of ancient Gaelic culture from a firsthand perspective. Ball performs the piece tonight at 8 at Cameron Church, 1600 S. Pearl St.; for information and tickets, $12 to $14, call 777-1003.

Write stuff: Sorry, but the Bombay Gin Benefit won't have you swimming in a martini bath to raise funds for homeless olives. Instead, the event supports a nationally distributed literary journal named after the high-end spirit and produced and edited by students of the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Naropa faculty members and friends Jack Collom, Steven Taylor, Bobbie Louise Hawkins and Lee Christopher will provide poetry readings and music, while a silent auction offers bidding on gourmet meals, theater tickets, original artwork and other cultured goodies, tonight at 7:30 at Naropa's Performing Arts Center, 2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder. Admission ranges from $5 to $8; for information and tickets call 546-3540.

Sunday
January 25
Let's go bowling: Some of us will shop. Others will go to the movies. But the odds on where most of us will be today probably won't set Vegas on fire. In a town madly in love with its long-suffering football team, Super Bowl XXXII is the only place to be. It really doesn't matter where you watch, or with whom, but if a group activity with a really big screen is what you crave, the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave., is hosting just such an animal, beginning today at 3:30 (admission is free; call 322-2308), as is the Boulder Theater, 2030 14th St., Boulder, where doors open at 2 (also free; call 786-7030).

So what's it gonna be--Orange Crush or Dark Blue Mush? Will the Broncs buck the Packers? At this point, only the gods have an inkling. So wish 'em well--and watch that game.

Monday
January 26
Speak up: A onetime New York congresswoman who's now covering news for CBS, Susan Molinari is certain to have plenty to say. She'll get her chance to do just that tonight when she appears as a guest of the inaugural Denver Distinguished Lecture Series at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex. Admission ranges from $15 to $35; for tickets to this and future series programs (former president George Bush appears in March, and columnist Dave Barry speaks in April), call 534-5252.

Hip to hops: Let's face it--you're nobody in this town if you don't know your beer. But it's never too late to learn: Longmont's Pumphouse Brewery, at 540 Main St., kicks off a six-week series of beer seminars tonight at 7, when Eric Wallace and Dick Doore of Left Hand Brewing hold forth on the distinguishing attributes of stouts and porters. Clinics on future Mondays will feature representatives from other breweries around the region expounding on everything from wheat beers to pale ales; since tasting is part of the program, be sure to come with an open mind--and gullet. Admission is $10 in advance ($12 at the door) per seminar; for more information and a complete tasting schedule, call 702-0881.

Tuesday
January 27
Common knowledge: If you need further evidence that all rap isn't a mixture of gold chains, guns, drugs and misogyny, alterna-rapper Common's Elements of Hip-Hop Tour will do what it can to quash the ugly rumor tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder. Chicagoan Common (an abbreviated reference to "common sense"), aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn, is the rare hip-hopper who consistently thinks when he speaks, addressing human issues with his scattershot poetry instead of spitting out simple boasts and epithets. Four-man unit the X-ecutioners and Rahzel of the Roots open the show; for tickets, $15.75, call 830-TIXS.

Put your money where the art is: Corporate money sometimes ends up where you wouldn't expect it--for instance, in the pockets of starving artists. Or not so starving, as the case may be. Companies are learning that art in the workplace makes employees happier and therefore more productive, which makes helping artists a means to an end. The public is invited to enjoy business-owned works when Corporate Collections '98, sponsored by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, opens tonight at Republic Plaza, 370 17th St., with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30. Included in the show, which continues through March 18, are pieces by nationally known artists such as Red Grooms, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Motherwell, as well as local names such as James Balog, Patti Cramer and Tony Ortega; for additional information call 733-1868.

Wednesday
January 28
Stone's throw: A former reporter and now a Denver private eye turned mystery writer, Michael Stone has garnered a growing local following in just a few short years by sticking to detective-fiction basics--plain language, colorful metaphors and savvy plotting. Now Streeter, his hard-boiled egg of a recurring protagonist, returns to the dark alleys in Stone's latest, Token of Remorse. For an introduction, drop by the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave., tonight at 7:30, where Stone will read from and sign copies of the pulpy whodunit. For information call 322-7727.