Thrills for the week

July 10
How street it is: What better way to kick off this summer's Colorado Dance Festival than with some exuberant dancing in the street--style, that is. A unique troupe of dancers, Rennie Harris PureMovement uses hip-hop as a springboard, taking the giant choreographic leap from lowbrow to highbrow realms in the blink of an eye. Leader Harris learned his moves at the raw source, as a Philadelphia break dancer; like him, all the company's members, who seamlessly glide between popular American, Latin, African and modern-dance modes, are naturals. Harris and cohorts perform at 8 nightly, today through Saturday, in the Charlotte York Irey Theatre, located in the Theatre and Dance Building on the CU-Boulder campus. Tickets are $18; for reservations or additional dance-festival information (events continue in Boulder through August 2), call 442-7669.

July 11
Cloud coverage: Look outside--it's a beautiful day for a walk. And while you're at it, do what all human folks do: talk about the weather. The Walter Orr Roberts Weather Trail, opening today at the Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, will now allow you to do so confidently and with great authority. The new Roberts promenade, an innovative take on the garden-variety interpretive nature trail that's said to be the only such path in North America, offers scientific information on various aspects of Front Range weather at stops along the way. An opening reception for the 0.4-mile, wheelchair-accessible loop, with meteorologists acting as guides, takes place today from 3 to 5; visit the trail on your own weekdays from 8 to 5 or weekends and holidays from 9 to 3. NCAR's Mesa Lab is located at 1850 Table Mesa Drive in South Boulder; call 497-1174.

Rock around the clock: You can do just that, with the guys who did it first, at the second annual Rock N' Rhythm-Billy Weekend, where the original Comets, who backed Bill Haley on the '55 classic of the same name, will perform along with an international roster of swingin' bands guaranteed to get you off your duffs and onto the dance floor. Go, cat, go! Expect a mixture of rockabilly, Western swing, jump R&B and other American roots-music styles when some of the area's--and the world's--coolest cats and kittens gather, beginning tonight at 6:30, at the Regency Hotel, 3900 Elati St., for three days of raunch and ruckus. Daytime events will include everything from a fashion show to a vintage car display; evening concerts feature not only the Comets, but the Planet Rockers, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, the Dalhart Imperials, Eric "Shoutin'" Sheridan and His Uptown Rhythm Kings, and lots of other acts from here and abroad. Three-day passes are available through today for $50; after that, admission is $20 daily. For more information call 455-8408.

Hot-house flower: The Denver Botanic Gardens will provide a beautiful backdrop for the husky stylings of Cassandra Wilson, a modern-jazz diva who's changing the face of her respected vocal genre. Wilson, who on a pair of recent albums redefined the jazz standard to include ragged Robert Johnson tunes, the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville," the Hank Williams moaner "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and other disparate numbers, appears outdoors at the gardens beginning at 7:15 p.m., surrounded by greenery, blossoms and soon-to-be-starlit skies. For tickets, $19 ($16 members), call 777-3836 or drop by in person at the DBG's front-gate ticket office, 1005 York St.

July 12
The hills are alive: A swell blend of sounds meld together this weekend in Winter Park as the tenth annual American Music Festival--staged in the great outdoors, nestled up to the Rocky Mountains--gets under way. Day one features Celtic-music-inspired Sarah McLachlan's all-woman Lilith Fair Tour, with a lineup that includes, in addition to McLachlan, Fiona Apple, country stylist Mary Chapin Carpenter and singer-songwriter Paula Cole. (Lilith Fair will contribute part of the show's proceeds to SafeHouse Denver.) Inventive rocker Dave Matthews heads up tomorrow's bill with pal Tim Reynolds; Barenaked Ladies, Shawn Colvin, Matthew Sweet and Agents of Good Roots round out the roster. The American Music Festival opens daily at 8:30 a.m., and performances follow from 10:30 to 5:30; leave your cans, bottles, alcoholic beverages, cameras and pets at home, but do bring picnics, blankets, beach chairs, coolers and small thermos bottles. To reserve tickets ($35 each day) or for more information, call 830-TIXS.

Closer to home but still clinging to an incline is the Boulder Folk and Bluegrass Festival, a laid-back one-day fete at Chautauqua Auditorium, 900 Baseline Road in Boulder. Heading that bill are folk-rock veteran Jonathan Edwards and rising newcomer Dar Williams; local acts the Velveeta Sisters and Laughing Hands will warm up the crowd, beginning at 7. Admission ranges from $15 to $19 ($12 seniors and children under twelve); call 830-TIXS or 440-7666 for details.

Throwback: Never mind what an atlatl is--you throw it at a target and it was used as a hunting weapon thousands of years ago by your ancient ancestors, and that's that. The more important thing to know is that the atlatl is the center of attention at today's Spear Sling Fling Thing, a free demonstration, contest, workshop and overall fun time being held from 9 to noon at the Aurora History Museum's DeLaney Farm, 170 S. Chambers Road, Aurora. Atlatl spear-throwing record-holder David P. Engvall, already ensconced in the record books, will attempt to best himself as he and other national atlatl enthusiasts make like mammoth hunters; you'll also have an opportunity to lift the lance if you like. Archaeology, flint-knapping and basket-weaving displays will be featured, too; call 739-6660.

July 13
Bubbe would approve: Like chicken soup, noodle kugel and a good bit of overprotection all rolled up into one big, guilt-ridden matzoh-ball, music is powerful medicine. And you'll get a good dose of it (though well short of an all-out smothering) at tonight's Jewish Folk Festival, part of the ongoing Sounds of Summer: Music Under the Stars series at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia St. Featuring Minneapolis-born singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman as its main attraction (Himmelman performs at 7), the mini-festival begins at 5 with a quartet of entertainers from around the region, including Saul Rosenthal of the Anti-Defamation League, Temple Sinai cantor Tammy Miller, Fort Collins rabbi Jack Gabriel and Los Lantzmun, a combo fronted by Hal Aqua. Tickets to the concert, which takes place outdoors on the center's Feiner Family Terrace, are $12 ($10 students and seniors); box dinners ($5 to $8) can also be reserved in advance--a good idea, since picnics are verboten. Call 777-3836.

July 14
Butler did it: Part of the beauty of baseball is the way it can inspire us. Some of its heroes evoke the common man--though they're regular Joes of all sizes and shapes, they seem to do what they do with more grace and grandeur than anyone else. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler is a case in point: At forty, Butler returned to the plate from cancer surgery last year for another season in the sun. The oldest starting lead-off man in either league this year, he's also now an author. In town to face the Rockies later tonight at Coors Field, Butler takes time out at 11 a.m. to sign copies of his autobiography, Field of Hope, at the Tattered Cover LoDo, 1628 16th St., before heading to the locker room. Call 436-1070 for information.

July 15
Watch this space: The most uncanny thing about Ben Harper is his age. Though he's only in his twenties, the alternatively inclined singer, songwriter and slide guitarist seems to have a wise old soul residing inside his brain, calling the musical shots. On his third album, The Will to Live, the rapidly maturing Harper mixes a raw, sweet voice--which is reminiscent of a host of folk-pop predecessors, from the young Stephen Stills to Cat Stevens--with wailing, heart-fueled licks that alternate between back-porch rootsy and maelstrom-grungy, and it's just this side of brilliant. Harper appears along with his band, the Innocent Criminals, tonight at 8 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax; tickets, $18.50, can be purchased by calling 830-2525 or 1-800-444-SEAT.

Jack of all trades: Some guys will stop at nothing, and Roger Kellaway is one of them. Not merely an impeccable instrumental technician, Kellaway manages several careers at once--as a virtuoso jazz pianist and avant-garde and chamber jazz composer, arranger and film scorist. But it's the jazzman who stars at the I Love Roger Kellaway Concerts, a pair of showcases that will double as recording sessions with able help from local bassist Paul Warburton--impeccable in his own right--and drummer Ronnie Bedford, a longtime Benny Carter accompanist. It all happens today and tomorrow at 8 at the brand-new 9th Avenue West, a tapas bar, dance floor and cabaret-style concert venue that opened its gates this week at 99 W. 9th Ave. A $10 dinner buffet will be available beginning at 6 each evening; concert tickets are $10 in advance ($12 at the door). Call 592-1168.

July 16
Solid Grohl: Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl recently jumped into the ring for round two with his band, the Foo Fighters, recording a sophomore CD that envelops its pop sensibility in a whirlwind. Second-year smarts? Find out for yourself tonight: Full-frontal-attack band Supergrass mows 'em down at 8 at the Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave.; Grohl and the Foos follow. For tickets, $15, call 820-2525 or 1-800-444-

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd