Though the holidays seem to be all about eating and drinking too much and receiving presents, let us remind you of the real reason for the season: giving back. Celebrate accordingly during Colorado Gives Day, or find the perfect stocking stuffers for your loved ones at Pintastic or the Heavy Metal Flea Market. Find more fun events on this week's calendar.
Tuesday, December 5
Colorado Gives Day has raised more than $145 million since the do-good day was introduced in 2010. On Tuesday, December 5, this annual 24-hour effort sponsored by the Community First Foundation and FirstBank will celebrate its tenth anniversary. "It's astounding to think that in 2010, we were hoping Colorado Gives Day would raise $1 million for local nonprofits, and last year alone it raised over $33 million," says Jim Reuter, CEO of FirstBank. Help break that record by going to the new, improved coloradogives.org and donating to one or more of the 2,000-plus nonprofits that are part of the project this year.
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The best way to absorb the current MCA Denver exhibit Saber Acomodar: Art and Workshops of Jalisco 1915-Now, on view through January, might just be to study its 25 separate slices of artistic vision one at a time. That’s why the museum’s series of three artist residencies in conjunction with Saber Acomodar is so valuable: They give you a chance to get inside an artist’s head so that you can understand what you’re seeing on the wall....and even create some of your own art. Artist Cristian Franco, who’s created his own fictional punk-music scene through invented fliers from repurposed materials, will lead three workshops where you can come up with your own fliers, starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 5, and repeating Wednesday, December 6, and Thursday, December 7, at the MCA, 1485 Delgany Street. Admission is $5 to $10, and registration is required at eventbrite.com; learn more on the MCA’s Facebook page.
Wednesday, December 6
In this season of hope, it's hard to find anything more inspirational than PeaceJam, a homegrown organization that's been spreading a message of peace around the world for more than two decades. That's something to celebrate, which is exactly what you can do on Wednesday, December 6, at the ninth annual PeaceJam Awards Celebration at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Festivities kick off with a VIP reception at 5 p.m., with doors opening to the public at 5:30 p.m. for the PeaceJam awards honoring young Colorado leaders and the premiere of PeaceJam's newest award-winning film, Without a Shot Fired. The evening will be so energizing that you'll want to stick around for the dance party, which starts at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $20, with discounted $10 tickets for students and senior citizens at peacejam.org.
Thursday, December 7
An annual holiday tradition that grows more relevant every year, playwright Anthony J. Garcia's The Miracle at Tepeyac adapts the tale of Juan Diego — a Mexican native whose visions of the Virgen de Guadalupe sparked a spiritual movement — into a dramatic stage production rich with contemporary resonance. Garcia's play relates the story of Diego's encounters (which inspired him to build a shrine to the virgin at the site of the holy apparitions, despite the misgivings of a skeptical bishop) interwoven with the more timely tale of a group of Guatemalan immigrants hiding out in a church. With a live band performing Tony Silva's unforgettable score, the family-friendly show returns to Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, on Thursday, December 7. The production continues throughout the month, with performances at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, December 17) through December 22. Buy tickets, $17 to $20, and find more information at suteatro.wellattended.com.
Star Wars nerds gotta be nerds, regardless of the season, but with the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi mere days away, the anticipation is beyond brutal. No worries: The Star Wars Holiday Variety Show, a vaudevillian compendium of live performances, trivia and costume contests interspersed with scenes from the historically awful 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special and replete with a Darth Santa photo booth, should hold the faithful for at least a few hours. The intergalactic silliness shoots into hyperspace at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue, on Thursday, December 7, at 7 p.m.; tickets are $12 in advance at holdmyticket.com or $15 at the door. And don’t forget to bring a food or toy donation — or both — for Aurora West College Prep Academy and Toys for Tots, which will both receive a portion of the evening’s proceeds.
Friday, December 8
One of the most influential bassists of the post-punk era, Mike Watt could be considered rock royalty based on his genre-defying years with Minutemen alone. Yet the ever-experimental Watt kept toiling away, forming the bands Dos, Mike Watt and the Secondmen, and Firehouse in the wake of Minutemen's dissolution (following the death of bandmate D. Boon), as well as touring with groups like Banyan and the Stooges. Worshiped by budding bassists and DIY diehards alike (he was even bestowed with Bass Player magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award), Watt has maintained the ascetic ethos and independent spirit that made him and Minutemen heroes of California's early-’80s punk scene. Luckily for local fans, Watt and the Secondmen are winding their way through Denver for a pair of concerts at the Lion's Lair, 2022 East Colfax Avenue, on Friday and Saturday, December 8 and 9, at 9 p.m. Punk fans won't find more fitting surroundings to get their Wattage on than Denver's diviest punk venue — and punkest dive bar. Find tickets, $22.50, at brownpapertickets.com, and more information on the Lion's Lair's Facebook page.
Lynn Flanagan-Till’s eclectic Rosehouse on South Broadway in Baker is more than a purveyor of exotic plants and herbal remedies and cosmetics (which is already cool in its own right). It’s also a gallery with a botanical flair, the perfect venue for Marie Elizabeth Conigliaro’s Anatomical, an exhibit of beautiful hand-cut collages interlacing plant and flower imagery with anatomical drawings. Along with framed works, Conigliaro is adding a selection of affordable art postcards and limited-run mini art books and 2018 calendars to Rosehouse’s curated shelves. Expect those to go quickly! Anatomical opens with a reception on Friday, December 8, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Rosehouse, 14 South Broadway, and runs though January 15. Learn more on Rosehouse's Facebook page.
Just up the street from Rosehouse on Broadway, Lauren Seip and Tymla Welch of Lowbrow will gift their clientele with the annual Pintastic show, a holiday-worthy and crowd-pleasing enamel-pin extravaganza that returns just in time for shoppers hunting for fun stocking stuffers. And for collectors, it’s another story entirely: There’s no time like the present to hoard a few more prizes. This is a show where you’ll have to act fast to snatch up the best designs, but the show goes through January, and the Lowbrow ladies say they’ll continue to add new stock during its run. Be first in line when Pintastic opens with a reception and party on Friday, December 8, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Lowbrow, 38 Broadway. Admission is free; learn more on Lowbrow’s Facebook page.
Ian Cooke has been a staple of the Denver music scene for more than a decade. Armed with quirky and deeply personal lyrics, looping cello riffs and stirring harmonies, he's played his romantic music at house shows, bars, ballet halls and museums in the Mile High City. Cooke will leave Denver for North Carolina early next year, but before he goes, he'll celebrate both his departure and the release of his latest album, The Flight I Flew, which chronicles his experience with tortured love, at 9 p.m. Friday, December 8, at Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway. Tickets are $15; for more information, visit physicopera.com or call 720-456-7041.
While the beat on the street has shifted to arts and culture in the 21st century, this year’s 40 West Arts District annual Riot! fundraiser evokes the automotive past of the West Colfax corridor it benefits with a party in a garage, where guests will mingle around an exclusive classic and exotic car collection. At 40 West’s RIOT VI: Fast and Furious Gala, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 8, at the Intrigue Auto Club, 11100 West Eighth Avenue in Lakewood, you’ll dine on build-your-own sliders and customized popcorn, and be treated to guided tours through aisles of muscle cars, classic roadsters, racers and even a 1934 Bonnie and Clyde Ford Coupe — and that’s just the warmup for the upcoming Hot Wheels and virtual-reality races and other auto-related fun and games. Purchase tickets, $45 to $50, in advance at squareup.com/store/40W; for more information, go to 40westarts.org/riot6.
Saturday, December 9
Among the strangest endeavors circulating in Denver's creative community, No Gods No Masters is a puppet show designed to introduce children to the tenets of anarchist theory. Created and written by local comedian Roger Norquist, who is aware of his creation's absurdity and committed to seeing it through, the show presents adorably doe-eyed puppets performing sketches and singing catchy songs about bringing the system down. Until recently, No Gods No Masters only existed in a few video sketches, but Norquist and company are teaming up for an inaugural showcase with fan-favorite characters Laozi, Emma and Old Man Slab live and in the plush, along with comedy performances from Cory Helie and Jay Gillespie and music from Calamity Champs. Fitting for an anarchist puppet show, interested parties can attend for the proletariat-friendly price of free — though donations are always appreciated. The revolution begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 9, at El Charrito's Comedy RoomRoom, 2104 Larimer Street. Find more details on the Denver No Gods No Masters Facebook page.
Sure, it’s inevitable that you’re going to re-watch all of your favorite holiday movies with friends and family as Christmas approaches. But what if you could see Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or A Christmas Story in the company of a herd of cute, adorable, snuggly goats? Now you can notch that one on your belt, courtesy of the Broken Shovels Farm Sanctuary, at Goats In RiNo: A Holiday Film Festival, a series of family-friendly, bring-your-own-seating Saturday film screenings at LFX Filmworks, 1701 31st Street. Offering screenings of changing titles at 2 and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 9 (and again on December 16 and 30), the fest provides ample time before the movies roll to pet and feed the goats; bagged goat-friendly treats will be available for purchase, and the Wong Way Veg food truck will be parked outside so you can feed yourself. Find the complete schedule and advance tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages ten and under, at brownpapertickets.com; all-ages prices go up to $12 at the door. Proceeds will benefit the sanctuary, and have no fear: A quick-cleanup crew will be on the premises to tend to any sudden messes.
Summer — and with it the celebration of pop-culture geekery that is Denver Comic Con — seems very distant in the dark days of December. But you can brighten up your winter at the free Mini Comic Con 2, a Denver Public Library event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 9. This year's Artist's Alley will host thirty comic-book artists, who will have art and comics for sale and will offer the opportunity to get professional feedback on your own work. There will also be face painting and button making for younger fans, and green-screen photo shoots that drop you directly into your fave fantasy world. So pick your fandom and don your best cosplay for the chance to win prizes; we'll be sharpening our bat'leth. It's all at the Sam Gary Branch Library, 2961 Roslyn Street. For more information, call 720-865-0325 or go to denverlibrary.org/event/mini-comic-con-2.
A national platform for brave souls willing to take the stage to read live from their teenage diaries (as heard on This American Life), Mortified includes Denver among the twenty or so cities worldwide it visits each year. It’s become so popular in these parts, in fact, the reading series is doing a Mortified Yearbook: Best of 2017 edition to wrap up the year. Hear the highlights on Saturday, December 9, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue; tickets are $16 at holdmyticket.com or $20 at the door. Learn more at getmortified.com or the Mortified Colorado Facebook page.
For a more urban holiday experience for families, Cherry Creek North will deck Fillmore Plaza, First Avenue and Fillmore Street with hand-warming fire pits, ice-carving demos and hot drinks for Winter Fest, an annual outdoor celebration with no price tag from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 9. Along with the free party, businesses throughout the district, which runs between Colorado and University boulevards and First and Sixth avenues, will pitch in with live entertainment, ornament workshops and holiday shopping. Find details and a map of participating shops at cherrycreeknorth.com; be jolly and bring every last kid.
Few things soothe a weary soul like comfort food. Running with that idea, the Queen City Cooperative will host Pies for Justice, a fundraiser and baking competition starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 9, at 901 Clarkson Street. Come with your favorite homemade pie and a charitable organization in mind, and every vote cast for your sweet treat will equal a dollar for your cause of choice. The winning pie baker will get an additional $50 for his or her favorite organization! If baking isn't your thing but eating is, just show up and get to voting (the cooperative will provide additional snacks and beverages). Get more information and register at denver.carpediem.cd.
Sunday, December 10
Cello superstar Yo-Yo Ma's singular career is distinguished by his ceaseless efforts to expand his repertoire and connect with new audiences. Despite having won numerous Grammy Awards, Ma has never been content to rest on his laurels, and continues to maintain a vigorous concert schedule, including a stop at Boettcher Concert Hall, 1000 14th Street, on Sunday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. He'll be joined by conductor Brett Mitchell and the Colorado Symphony for a performance of John Williams's "Sound the Bells!" and an orchestral selection from Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring ballet, a pair of American classics with particularly lovely arrangements for the cello. Then Ma and company will close the show with a rousing performance of Antonín Dvorák's Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op.104 — which was among the composer's final completed works and his sole composition for the instrument. Only a few mezzanine seats ($100) remain for the popular concert; to get yours, go to tickets.coloradosymphony.org or call the box office at 303-623-7876.
We all know that Bill Murray can sing — or at least entertain with a lounge lizard’s gusto. But for his latest performance project, the oft-idolized comedian and actor is putting his voice and attendant talents to the test for Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends: New Worlds, a duet given life by Murray’s unusual friendship with classical cellist Jan Vogler. Murray takes on American classics, both literary and musical, backed by Vogler’s classical trio, for an evening of song and words on Sunday, December 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bellco Theatre, 700 14th Street; big names like Twain, Hemingway, Whitman, Cooper, Bernstein, Gershwin and Foster are a few of the wells they’ll tap. Learn more about New Worlds at dornmusic.com; find tickets, $45 to $125, at axs.com.
Longtime Denver Beatlemaniac Jimi Bernath’s annual Beatles/Lennon Memorial Sing-Along hits its twenty-year mark with another round of communal celebration and remembrance in 2017, but don’t expect the fun to be any less fervent. Singers of all ages, from the old-time hippie crowd to dancing toddlers in diapers, will gather, as always, at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. The afternoon, curated by Bernath, includes handy lyric sheets, so no worries if you can’t remember all the words, and admission is free, though it’s hard to pass up the Merc’s selections of food and drink. Sing along with Jimi on Sunday, December 10, from 2 to 5 p.m.; look for the Beatles/Lennon Memorial Singalong online or call 303-294-9258 for details.
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Shop for the metalhead in your life at the Heavy Metal Flea Market, a holiday bazaar from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, highlighting ten local vendors armed with the raddest gifts around. No heavy-metal holiday market would be complete without a set of live music: When Darkness Fall and Slingfist will throw down starting at 2 p.m. The free market is at Black Sky Brewery, 490 Santa Fe Drive. Find out more on the HMFM Facebook page. Happy shopping!
Monday, December 11
Zeppelin Station, a much-talked-about retail and office space project in RiNo, will open its doors on Monday, December 11, before its anticipated late-2017 grand opening, for an architectural tour led by the Denver Architectural Foundation. Bring your hard hat, safety vest and glasses (or rent them from DAF) and get an up-close look at the Station, 3501 Wazee Street, including the market hall, where global food choices such as banh mi (Vietnam), gelato (Italy) and poke (Hawaii) will greet future visitors. Find tickets ($15 to $40) at eventbrite.com, where you'll choose from two sixty-minute tours, beginning at 4 and 5:15 p.m., respectively. Note: Registration must be completed by December 8!