The ascendancy of hip-hop as a cultural phenomenon has brought a kindred form of expression to the masses: the spoken word. Landmark proto-rap records by the likes of the Last Poets and Melvin Van Peebles more than thirty years ago paved the way for artists such as Michael Franti and Saul Williams, and the spoken-word poetry scene has benefited greatly from this crossover.
To herald this confluence of rhythm, verse and consciousness, Crossroads Theater is cutting loose with Say Word! A Celebration of the Word. The three-day event kicks off at 7 p.m. tonight with an introductory dinner; tomorrow and Sunday, July 24, a range of workshops, competitions and performances will showcase a wealth of local and national talent. Renowned New Yorkers Mahogany Browne, Jive Poetic and Fish Vargas will read and breathe soul into their work. Not to be outdone, the Denver Slam Team of Soweto, Katie FS and Ken Arkind will teach a lesson in slam -- the poetic equivalent of MC battles -- while other local luminaries such as Natiq Jalil, Jblessed, Jacob Rosen, Catherine O'Neill, Day Acoli and Oracle Speaks shine a light on topics as diverse as graffiti, storytelling and self-actualization through the written and spoken word. Whether you know you're a poet or not, you're encouraged to attend and participate. Let your voice be heard.
Crossroads Theater is located at 2180 Stout Street; tonight's dinner is $20, and entry to the individual workshops and performances range from $5 to $10. An all-weekend pass is available for $50. For more information, call 303-296-0212 or visit www.denvercrossroads.com. -- Jason Heller
It's a gay, gay summer at Bent Lens Cinema.
You know the story of the three bears, right? Papa Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear. Oh, wait, this is a different story. This tale is called Bear Cub, and it's about Bernardo, a human "bear" (a fat, furry subculture of gay men and a few fearless dykes) who is a very single and socially active dentist. Bernardo agrees to watch his nephew for a few weeks, but it becomes a permanent placement when the boy's mother disappears and he is forced to cope with instant parenthood.
Bear Cub will screen as part of Bent Lens Cinema's "Summer Salute to Pride," which starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Landmark Crossroads Cinema, 2985 Pearl Street in Boulder. Three lesbian-oriented shorts will precede the feature: PROM-troversy, in which girl meets girl and takes her to the high-school prom; Little Black Boot, a butch Cinderella story; and Getting to Know You, about a woman who just can't say no to a pretty face.
Unlike most annual film festivals, Bent Lens employs an episodic format, with cinematic screenings scattered throughout the year. "Boulder's not New York or L.A.," says festival board president Constance Spheeris. "There's not a lot going on here, so people enjoy getting out and having social events. It's a little party a few times a year."
After the screenings, join Bent Lens' salon in celebrating Spain's approval of same-sex marriage, with tapas and drinks. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for seniors/ students. For more information, visit www.bentlens.org -- Debra A. Myers
Take a Ride
I'll never forget the first time I rolled in a lowrider. The experience doesn't have a ton of street cred -- we were coming out of Cherry Creek, not cruising Federal -- but I was still in God's G-mobile, Reverend Leon Kelly's tricked-out ride embellished with gold crosses in the leather seats. It was hot, and I giggled like a schoolgirl. Again, not cool, but it was fun as hell bouncing down the streets. My brother has a Dodge Diesel all jacked up on lifts, but I'm a lifelong convert to the lower profile. Today, hundreds of the beauties will pour into Six Flags Elitch Gardens, at I-25 and Speer Boulevard, for the 2005 Lowrider Festival. Entrance to the two-day event is free with park admission, $37.99 ($25.99 online), and bands will be rocking on the Big Wheel stage from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com/parks/elitchgardens/index.asp. -- Amy Haimerl
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Cue It Up
On Cue Live! offers a Collective good time.
The CueZone Artists Collective likes its music broad-based and eclectic, accompanied by dancers, spoken-word artists and visual artists who move, paint and draw to the sounds they hear. So the group organized On Cue Live!, and for the past month, the artists have been hosting musical extravaganzas across Denver. The shows are a genre-bending mix of artists and musical styles: Short sets and jam sessions serve as inspiration for the emcees, poets, dancers, painters and sketchers, who might perform individually or simultaneously, depending on the night.
"Generally what we've been doing is trying to involve independent artists as well as some community art groups," says Jarad Astin, a musician and co-owner of the CueZone Records label.
The Collective madness amps up at 9:30 p.m. tonight at Quixote's, 2637 Welton Street, where On Cue Live! will feature CueZone artists such as the Jarad Astin Trio, Soul Wave, the Dick Jones, DJ Timbuk and Christel Rice. For more information, visit www.cuezonerecords.com. -- Amber Taufen