A slew of warm-weather-happy events, including jazz in the park, Independence Day celebrations and outdoor art exhibits, are sure to get you in the summer mood. Keep reading for more of our best events in Denver over the next week.
Tuesday, June 27
Denver’s City Park is a delight throughout the summer, popular with locals for its vast green expanses, shimmering lakes and lively pavilion. Far from being merely a scenic place to walk your dog, City Park also maintains a thriving cultural calendar throughout the warmer months. At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, the Mile High Freedom Bands’ Freedom Swing will take to the pavilion stage for A Midsummer Night’s Jazz. It’s a perfect opportunity to cuddle up with your loved ones on a lawn blanket and enjoy the splendor of a Colorado sunset soundtracked by jazzy jams. Admission is free; visit mhfb.org to learn more.
Wednesday, June 28
MCA Denver’s summer shows have plenty of admirable local angles, including Denver artist Derrick Velasquez’s Obstructed View, a fascinating eye-twister that makes you think about architecture and out-of-control development by playing with both in a site-specific installation that turns visual space upside down. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28, Velasquez will sit down with Metropolitan State University of Denver communication design professor Peter Miles Bergman for a conversation about the politics and personal aesthetic behind the art. Doors open at the museum, 1485 Delgany Street, at 6 p.m. for a pre-talk reception with beer and whiskey; admission to the talk is $5. Buy tickets in advance at mcadenver.org.
For decades, Colorado film fans have flocked to the Chautauqua Silent Film Series, which starts its 32nd season on Wednesday, June 28, with eight weeks of the best — if sometimes slightly obscure — classic films from the bygone silent-film era, all with live musical scores courtesy of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, pianist Hank Troy and the Silent Cinema Trio. Launching the season in swashbuckling fashion is the 1921 action classic The Three Musketeers. In following weeks, the series will showcase films by Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and more; all screenings start at 7:30 p.m. at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder. See the schedule and get tickets, $6 to $12, at chautauqua.com.
Thursday, June 29
The Museum of Outdoor Arts was originally conceived as a gallery without walls, and spent much of its formative years popping up with installations in open spaces. But since MOA moved into its brick-and-mortar galleries in Englewood nearly two decades ago, most of its major exhibits have been indoors, even though parts of its collection still thrive in site-specific locations. The Palazzo Verdi in the Denver Tech Center is one of those satellites; through April 2018, it will host MOA’s Sculpture on the Green, an exhibit of outdoor sculptural work by local sculptors Patricia Aaron, Virginia Folkestad, Erick C. Johnson and Dmitri Obergfell. The show opens with a reception with the artists from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29; opening festivities will include music, libations, a food truck and pop-up art, as well as self-guided walking tours. Admission is free at the site, 6363 South Fiddler’s Green Circle in Greenwood Village; visit moaonline.org for more information.
If you’re looking for the beat, you’ll want to drink in the latest from Red Bull Sound Select. The energy drink company’s artist-development program is teaming up with Souls in Action, a Denver-based social-justice music, art and activism collective, for a night of electronic music, rap and soul that starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 29. Canadian electronic-music producer Pomo will headline; Seattle rapper/singer Dave B and local R&B electro-funk soul sensation CRL CRRLL will provide support. Doors at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, open at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $5 for those who RSVP at win.gs/JuneDen; they’re $15 at the door.
Friday, June 30
The Denver Art Museum will unveil a ninety-foot temporary interactive installation called “La Musidora” at Untitled: Action on Friday, June 30, as it continues to explore new ways to move art outdoors onto the plaza in the summer. Created by Mexico City artists Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, the work generates musical tones while doubling as seating, and is activated when people sit on the rocking panels; the installation can accommodate up to twenty people at a time. “La Musidora” will debut during Untitled, which will run from 6 to 10 p.m.; watch for unexpected art encounters that tie in to the museum’s current ticketed exhibit, The Western: An Epic in Art and Film. The DAM is at 100 West 14th Ave Parkway; admission ranges from $8 to $13 (ages eighteen and under are admitted free) and includes Untitled activities. Learn more at denverartmuseum.org.
Denver Comic Con, the second-largest con in the country, flips back into the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, for a three-day celebration of all things nerdy. Featuring legendary comic-book artists such as Neal Adams, stars of beloved comic-related films and TV shows including Luke Cage’s Mike Colter and X-Men’s Famke Janssen, and headlined by “Weird Al” Yankovic, this year’s con is positively teeming with geek royalty. The show floor is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July 1, with panels and screenings offered until 11 p.m. both days; this and other events run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 2. Three-day adult passes and speed passes have already sold out, so make haste and buy your tickets from popcultureclassroom.org/dcc/tickets, where you’ll also find the full schedule.
Final Fridays are the new First Fridays. At least that’s the word in the Golden Triangle, which will host its first Final Friday Art Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 30. To celebrate the area’s creative class, shops, galleries, restaurants, studios and museums in the triangle bounded by Speer Boulevard, Lincoln Street and Colfax Avenue will host talks, tours, games and more. The free monthly series will run through the last Friday in September; find more information at goldentriangleofdenver.com...or just wander around the neighborhood and discover what’s solid golden in Denver’s own back yard.
The Cherry Creek Arts Festival returns to its namesake ’hood all weekend long, starting with an exclusive preview from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 30, before beginning in earnest at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 1, continuing Sunday, July 2, and wrapping up at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 3. With 260 jury-approved artists from all over the world, the festival presents the perfect opportunity for art lovers to add to their collections or merely gawk at the staggering array of jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photographs and sculptures on display. Aside from all the artwork, attendees of this free event can also enjoy live music on the main stage along with pop-up performances and the Janus Henderson Investors Art Experience. Gather with artists, spectators and other fun-loving locals for four days of tony fun in Cherry Creek North; visit cherrycreekartsfestival.org to learn more.
Ah, the smells of summer: food cooking on an outdoor grill, freshly mown grass — and lavender? That will be just one of the herbs perfuming the air at Colorado Aromatics Farm’s Farm-to-Skin Dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, June 30, at 13651 North 115th Street in Longmont. The farm grows the herbs, which it uses in a line of natural skin-care products; chef Grant Buchanan of GB Culinary will use some of those herbs in the food he’s cooking for a meal that includes hors d’oeuvre and three courses. Get your tickets, $85, at eventbrite.com before the day of the dinner and then drive out to the Boulder County farm in plenty of time to stop and smell the roses...and everything else. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you can bring your own. Just be sure it’s something that pairs well with lavender.
The Dairy Center’s Friday Night Weird series continues its Quentin Tarantino-inspired programming with an overlooked classic from the Hong Kong action-movie canon, Ringo Lam’s tense 1987 heist movie City on Fire. While delivering the bullet-riddled spectacle genre fans have come to expect, this Chow Yun-Fat vehicle is also rich with double-crosses, shifting alliances and thrilling suspense, and its influence on Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs is unmistakable. Gather with a gaggle of fellow cinephiles at Boedecker Theater, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, on Friday, June 30, for an 8:45 p.m. screening of a film that demands to be watched on a giant screen. Tickets, $6 to $11, are available from tickets.thedairy.org.
Keep reading for more of the best events in Denver this week.
Friday, June 30 (continued)
What group sometimes gets lost in all the activity of Denver Comic Con? Our fine local corps of cartoonists, graphic novelists and comic artists, a talented bunch that will have a presence at the con but sometimes finds it hard to compete with big-time special guests and rampant cosplayers. Just in time, the Denver Public Library is giving the locals a lift with the release of its own Denver Comix, a twelve-page, full-color paean to homegrown talent, featuring 24 original strips. Get your free copy and enjoy a live podcast by MotherF**ker in a Cape, refreshments and a Doodle Fight drawing competition at a post-con party from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 30, at Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway. Visit the Facebook event page for details.
Gamers and classical-music aficionados will enjoy a rare confluence of interests this weekend at the Colorado Symphony’s performances of The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. Aside from entertaining three successive generations of children and adults alike, The Legend of Zelda includes some of gaming’s best music; arranged by Chad Seiter, the symphony’s overture combines the most memorable melodies from the game into a grand symphonic experience that even Ganondorf could enjoy. With shows at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July 1, at Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, this is the perfect opportunity to link up with other gamers and pay homage to the Golden Goddesses. Visit zelda-symphony.com to learn more and buy tickets, $15 to $89.
The first annual Colorado Prairie Music Festival will have the rafters ringing at the Old Limon Salebarn, 1255 Dairy Lane in Limon on Friday, June 30, when former Coloradan Braydon Zink will open for the Turnpike Troubadours. But that’s just the start of the action in Lincoln County: The next morning, Limon will host a 5K Star Spangled Fun Run, followed by a horseshoe tournament at Railroad Park and free admission to the Limon Heritage Museum from 1 to 8 p.m. Back at the barn, the Eastern Colorado Veterans Memorial Benefit Concert will offer beer, barbecue and bluegrass music from Smoke, Sway Grass and Zink himself from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; after that, the action moves to Gaskill Football Field for the 101st Army rock, Dixieland and country bands and the biggest fireworks show in eastern Colorado. Tickets are $30 for the June 30 concert or $40 for a weekend pass; admission to the July 1 evening concert is free. For more information, go to seelincolncounty.com.
Saturday, July 1
It’s been more than twenty years since Denver’s Historic Elitch Theatre hosted live music. But that’s about to change: The storied venue, where the likes of Grace Kelly, Cecil B. DeMille and Ray Charles once performed, is throwing open the doors for a concert on Saturday, July 1, to benefit the Sunnyside Music Festival, which takes place in September. Singer Alyssa Michelle, Sweet Lillies and the All-Star String Band will entertain visitors to the 126-year-old theater with a mix of bluegrass, folk and Americana. Attendees can also sip cocktails and peruse food trucks while they enjoy the festivities, which start at 6 p.m. The Elitch Theatre is at 4655 West 37th Avenue; tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door (children five and under get in free). Go to sunnysidemusicfest.org/events for more information.
A little bit of everything is what you’ll get when the offbeat, versatile and theatrical musical duo of Gary Grundei and Amy Shelley host High Fiction Variety Night, which they promise might include “guest artists, burlesque, Fictional Karaoke, original music, contests, or something that’s not even been invented yet.” The mystery will be revealed during the event, which runs from 8 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, at Still Cellars, 1115 Colorado Avenue in Longmont; the evening will include special cocktails created by Still’s proprietor/drink-inventing team of Jason Houston and Sadye Rose. For tickets, $12, go to stillcellars.com.
When Doran Joseph founded Menagerie Family, a Denver-based art-and-entertainment company, he was staying on couches and had no cell phone. Still, with help from friends and family members, he began throwing the Monday Night Menagerie at Cervantes’, putting the spotlight on DJs, visual arts, poetry and more, showcasing groups like the Motet, Lettuce and the Phil Lesh Band. For its second-anniversary party, Menagerie will move the fun to Saturday, July 1, with a lineup that starts at 9 p.m. and includes Wabakinoset, Theoretically, Moonlight Bloom, High Voltage Silent Disco and Jew Tang Clan, all at Cervantes’, 2635 Welton Street. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door; for more information, go to cervantesmasterpiece.com.
Denver rock band Rubedo will hosts its third annual Independence Day show at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, on Saturday, July 1. For this round, the musicians have recruited two Denver-based Chicano bands, Los Mocochetes and Baubo, which will be joining forces in a one-night collaboration: Los Mocochetes con Baubo. Also on board are Don Chicharron, an eleven-piece chicha band; Phoenix rapper Mouse Powell; and the Nashville-based Luke Krutzke and the High Tides. And Rubedo will break out songs from its soon-to-be-released third album, Vaca. The show starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $5 to $16. For more information, go to bluebirdtheater.net.
Denver comedy fans who see their favorite comics perform over and over learn not only their jokes, but also their tics and idiosyncrasies. Sexpot Comedy’s Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game has turned these observations into a rib-tickling and liver-pickling standup showcase. Co-produced by two open-mic hosts — Caitie Hannan and Byron Graham, who’ve both watched an inadvisable amount of local comedy — the format is fairly simple: Hannan and Graham write down their notes about each comic on a large easel pad and prompt the audience to drink each time the comic on stage says or does something on the list. Throughout the show, one of the hosts remains on stage to serve as Designated Drunkard to guide the audience and generally make a drunken spectacle of him- or herself. Inspired by “Wait, What?” a similarly boozy brouhaha run by New Orleans comics Geoffrey Gauchet and Isaac Kozell, few shows achieve the same level of bacchanalian abandon. On Saturday, July 1, the lineup will include Bay Allison Mick and Aviva Siegel alongside local favorites Olivia Schyling, Jacob Rupp, Zeke Herrera and Harris Alterman; it’s headlined by the hilarious Aaron Urist. Get in the game starting at 7 p.m. at El Charrito’s Comedy RoomRoom, 2100 Larimer Street; tickets are $5 at nightout.com.
Sunday, July 2
The Denver comedy scene loves nothing more than seeing one of its own succeed, and over the past few weeks, former hometown boy Chris Charpentier has had locals swelling with pride. On June 20, Charpentier smashed his late-night debut with a well-honed set on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, while his friends and fans organized viewing parties all over the city to celebrate. Charpentier, who’s also appeared on Uproarious, Flophouse and Those Who Can’t, will reach another career milestone this week with a pair of headlining engagements at his home club, the downtown Comedy Works, 1226 15th Street. Catch him at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 2, or 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 5; go to comedyworks.com to learn more and buy tickets, $14.
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Monday, July 3
When the Fourth of July rolls around, it’s hard to avoid fireworks shows, which light up the sky for miles. And who wants to avoid them, anyway (dogs excepted)? But for urbanites who can’t wait to have a blast, Independence Eve 2017, starting at 8 p.m. Monday, July 3, at Civic Center Park, is the way to go. This year’s eighth annual celebration gets rocking with party band Soul X before giving way to the pomp and circumstance of the 101st Army Band of the Colorado National Guard. For convenience’s sake, there will be food trucks on hand, although you’re free to bring your own eats, too. You’ll definitely want to bring your own seating and arrive early to grab a good spot for the show and the fireworks that top off the night. That’s entertainment! Admission is free; learn more at civiccenterconservancy.org.
This year, relocate your Independence Day celebration from the back yard to Union Station, 1701 Wynkoop Street, for the Stars & Stripes Express Fest, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4. The Terminal Beer will double the size of its patio to fit more revelers, and Denver Beer Co. will be pouring lots of locally made suds; there will also be plenty of live music and family-friendly entertainment. Stars & Stripes is a free event (but the beer isn’t), and it will end early enough for you to catch a local fireworks display.