You know, I don't get out of town a whole lot, but were I into funk and jam, I'd consider heading to Boulder tonight for The Cat Empire at the Boulder Theater (2032 14th St., Boulder). This Australian outfit throws together, like, a zillion styles, including reggae, hip-hop, "dirty-hands" jazz, Cubano and sweet, sweet funk. This is only their second time in the States, and their first in Colorado. You best show up, to have something besides your late-night "SCTV" marathons to tell the grandkids about. Tickets are $15 before service charge. Head to bouldertheater.com to get one of your very own.
Take part in delectable patriotism and Springs history this evening at the Red Carpet Rollout, happening in the park so nice they named it twice, America the Beautiful (126 Cimino Drive). As part of the mega-celebration and park dedication ceremony, there'll be live blues, food, art, Bristol Brewery tents and special, undisclosed after-dark activities. Makeout party! The sis-boom-bah-ing and subsequently possible nocturnal smooching take place from 5 to 9. For more, visit springsgov.com or call 385-6528.
Also this evening, ring in the beginning of the season for The Rep at the Fine Arts Center (30 W. Dale St.), where they're throwing a helluva opening for Anything Goes. This maritime classic (written by Wodehouse and others, with lyrics by Cole Porter) features Broadway vet Susan Dawn Carson and will unveil the recently renovated FAC theatre. Have some dinner beforehand at Cravings, catch the show, then have a nightcap at the Deco Lounge. There's pretty much no way you're not gonna have fun. Tickets are $24 for FAC members, $26 for non-members and $29 at the door. To get yours, log on to csfineartscenter.org or call 634-5583.
If you'd like to ride a pony today, I can help you out, but pay attention. Rock Ledge Ranch is throwing its Harvest Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 1880s farm will open for free and be jam-packed with autumnal goodness for all, including, but not limited to, old-time music, punkin-pickin', handicrafts and folk art. Munch on some fry bread and ride ponies or horse-drawn wagons. See? Told you I'd come through. Although admission to the ranch is free, fees are charged for some activities. For more information, give the ranch a call at 578-6777.
This afternoon, check out songwriter and singer Erica Wheeler at a trs special Manitou Springs house concert. Behind an engaging stage presence and lush writing, Wheeler has been touring her butt off for a decade. She's been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" and WXPN's "World Caf," and has shared the stage with Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls and many others. Her new album, tentatively titled Endless Pines, is in the works, so I suggest you show up and support her. To not do so would be to invite my wrath. It kicks off at 4 p.m., tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and reservations indeed are required. To make yours, call 337-4618.
This week, check out the deliciousness that is Kaleidoscope, at the Commonwheel Artists Co-op Gallery (102 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs). This three-artist show features work by photographer Bryan Briscoe-Smith and potters Maggie Quinn and Linda Sabo. Believe me when I say there'll be a whole lot to look at, although I didn't quite mean that to sound as double entendre-ish as it does. The show is up through Oct. 17, and Commonwheel is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, check out commonwheel.com.
Get your git-pickin' on today at Guitar Center (535 N. Academy Blvd.), where renowned fingerstyle guru Pat Kirtley will be conducting an acoustic workshop. You see, Mr. Kirtley just happens to play Taylor guitars, which Guitar Center just happens to stock. I'm guessing that in addition to imparting wisdom related to his touted ambidexterity and pickin' skills, Kirtley will manage to get a sales pitch in somewhere. But hey, what do I know? Show up, learn something and tell me to stuff it. The event is going on at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Direct any questions to Guitar Center at 591-9040.
Is there a band more adorable than Rufio? I certainly won't earn points from them for saying so, but there's just something about four friends from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., playing music together, that melts this jaded old heart. Following a successful first album, Perhaps, I Suppose, they've been quite a while on the road -- including a bunch of Warped Tour dates. Now they're touring on the fun of their July release, The Comfort of Home. With them this evening are The Secret Lives of Freemasons, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Across Five Aprils, each of whom I halfheartedly Googled. The show starts at Darkside at 7:30, and tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Check out sodajerkpresents.com to find out more.
-- Aaron Retka