Detroit wheels: Life on the streets of Detroit gave former street performer Robert Bradley ample opportunity to hone his talents as a musician. Like the late Ted Hawkins, the Venice Beach busker who gained fame and recorded some fine albums before his death, Bradley, who is blind, is a certified original, blending authentic vocals and screaming guitar work with spontaneous lyrics. He now performs with a much younger band, whose members found him on a corner near the studio where they were working. Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise performs tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; tickets are $10.50. Call 443-3399 or 830-TIXS.
Folk lift: One of folk music's simplest pleasures, song collector Michael Cooney, hasn't graced the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 1905 S. Pearl St., for ten long years. But the multicultural multi-instrumentalist finally returns tonight for an evening of traditional gems that could take an audience in almost any direction, from the English countryside to the backwaters of Appalachia. Knowledgeable, friendly and Seegeresque, Cooney appears at 8; for tickets, $12 ($10 members), call 777-1003.
While you're making that call, you might want to go ahead and reserve tickets for the twelfth annual Swallow Hill Teachers' Concert, taking place tomorrow night at 8 in the slightly roomier Cameron Church sanctuary, down the street at 1600 S. Pearl. A terrific and eclectic showcase of some of the area's finest musicians, the concert just may convince you to sign up for a class. Admission to the teachers' recital is $15 ($13 members); call 777-1003.
You can bid on it: Whether or not you choose to bid on a watercolor Panoramic View of Denver, circa 1888, or a nineteenth-century first edition by Mark Twain or Harriet Beecher Stowe, the annual Rare and Not-So-Rare Book Auction, sponsored by the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation, is certain to offer a fascinating array of items on the block. Doors open for silent bidding at 6 p.m., but the real fun begins at 7, when Denver history know-it-all Tom Noel, city councilman Dennis Gallagher and book trader Robert Topp take on duties as live auctioneers. Over 200 books, prints and maps will be auctioned off at the fundraising event, which lasts until 9:30 in the Central Library's spectacular Gates Western History Reading Room, 10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy. Admission is $30 to $35 (an advance patron package, which includes an auction catalogue, is $50); call 640-6192.
Wake me, shake me: Life isn't all fun and games in Bohemia, and nobody works harder than an artist. Members of the Ilk Gallery, 554 Santa Fe Drive, are out to prove that point by holding an Ilk-A-Thon, for which they'll create art--alone and in collaboration--continuously from 5 p.m. today to 5 p.m. tomorrow. The marathon's objective is to raise money for a gallery addition; you can drop by to watch and make donation pledges anytime during the 24-hour span. Call 615-5725.
Dino-mite: That love affair tiny tykes seem to have going with the beasts of prehistory never dies--if anything, the temperature is still rising. Dinosaur nuts of all ages will have a field day today during Discovering Dinosaurs, an opportunity to handle mammoth fossils and ask University of Colorado scientists about triceratopsian habits and other burning questions. Find out all about ancient Colorado and where we fit into the mix starting at 1 p.m. at the Ross-Broadway Branch Library, 33 E. Bayaud Ave. Call 777-4845 for details.
City center: The Plex lives up to its reputation for being a happening place in spades today, promising a spectacularly diverse selection of events. In addition to the usual array of theater offerings in the Bonfils complex (including the perennial extended-runner Always...Patsy Cline), special programs for kids, music lovers and comedy fans bring an extra helping of joy to Plex venues today.
The Colorado Symphony joins forces with Colorado Rapids soccer stars this morning at 11 at Boettcher Concert Hall for Major League Players: The Art of the Team, a family-oriented zoo of a concert. Participants will be bombarded with sports and media celebrities, big-screen closed-circuit television interviews with orchestra members, interactive warm-up activities in the lobby, and appropriately sporty orchestral compositions, including Arnaud's Olympic Fanfare and the like. Admission is $7 for children and students and $13 for adults.
Later on, Boettcher Hall quiets down when renowned classical-guitar virtuoso Christopher Parkening appears in recital at 7:30. Parkening, an artist held in equal esteem with the masters from Segovia to Julian Bream, will perform works by Bach, Dowland, Villa-Lobos and others for an open-mouthed audience. Tickets range from $10 to $40.
And good old-fashioned laughter will also abound tonight when Chicago's premier sketch-comedy troupe, The Second City, presents some of the freshest funny stuff in the business on stage at the Auditorium Theater. The troupe--from which a standing roster of famous names, including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Valerie Harper, Robert Klein, Shelley Long, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers and Martin Short, has emerged--performs at 8; admission is $18.
The Plex and its various venues are located at 14th and Curtis streets; reserve tickets to all events there by calling 830-TIXS.
Cause and effect: More than a few starving musicians know what it's like to hover on the edge of poverty--one reason, perhaps, that they're so ready to lend a hand to those less fortunate. The fifth annual Colorado Musicians for the Homeless Benefit, tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder, is a good example: A whole mess of local performers, including newgrass ensemble the Flood Plain Gang, roots-blues guitarist Ben Stevens, banjo man Pete Wernick's Live Five and others, will whoop it up for only $5.25 plus an item of canned food or clothing. Donations will benefit Boulder Community Food Share organizations; call 443-0095.
Animal attraction: Author and editor Linda Hogan will preside tonight at a book signing for Intimate Bond: The Bond Between Women and Animals, an anthology of stories, prose and poems by such noted writers as Annie Dillard, Jane Goodall, Ursula LeGuin and Alice Walker. Pattiann Rogers and Ann Daum, two of the more than 75 contributors, will join Hogan tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 E. 1st Ave.; admission is free. Call 322-7727.
Oh, grow up: We probably all hoped for a wish-granting genie to appear when we were kids. Now big, a musical adaptation of the popular Tom Hanks flick from a few years back, gives shape to that universal childhood fantasy in, well, a big way--when it comes to the Buell Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, for a limited run. Tonight's opener, a special Kids Night on Broadway performance, offers one free ticket for a child under eighteen for every adult ticket purchased (subject to availability, so shake a leg); tickets prices during the remainder of the run, with shows daily through February 8, range from $20 to $55. Call 893-4100 or 830-TIXS.
Ashbury to ashes: Back before your kids were born (possibly before you were born), Summer of Love-era San Francisco blossomed with rock bands. One of the most essential--and probably one of the least-known--was the Charlatans,a leather-vested, sideburn-decked bunch who dressed like a crew of gold-rush gamblers and disappeared, leaving nothing behind but their image on a few dandy psychedelic concert posters. What remains of the bygone flower-power combo is Dan Hicks, who went on, post-Charlatans, to charm audiences with the Hot Licks, an acoustic throwback with giddy tunes such as "How Can You Miss Me When You Won't Go Away?". Now older and maybe wiser, Hicks has grown into a gruff, odd, curmudgeonly and strangely amusing entertainer. He appears with his current back-up group, the Acoustic Warriors, tonight at 7 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave.; for tickets, $12, call 322-2308 or 830-