Like Liz Phair, Omaha, Nebraska's Jason Anderson, aka Wolf Colonel, has gotten more and more unabashedly enamored of pop. Unlike Phair, however, the Colonel (whose name somehow begs to be pronounced as it's spelled) has not gotten married, divorced, and begun to sing about the health benefits of HWC. He's instead settled for naming his latest K Records release with a wink to Todd Rundgren -- it's called Something/Everything! -- and singing songs about such sugar-hearted punk popsters as Hüsker Dü. "Do you like Grant Hart songs?" he sings, "Do you like Bob Mould songs?/Yep./And have you ever sung alone with New Day Rising?" Anderson has drummed for Yume Bitsu and the Microphones and played with Calvin Johnson, but he'll be the one with the backing band to flesh out his highly personal and sensitive (awww, indie-rock) songs this Wednesday night at Blake's (2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley). The show starts at 9:30, and Grand Unified Theory and Fenway Park play first and second, respectively, with Wolf Colonel third and the Herms headlining. 510-848-0886. -- Stefanie Kalem
8/27, 7:30 p.m.: A few centuries back these issues were dealt with by way of the Crusades; a modern approach is a discussion on "Converging/Diverging Faiths: Islam and Christianity from the Center" tonight at Berkeley's First Congregational Church, with prolific author and Cal religious historian Huston Smith and MIT physicist Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the nation's foremost Islamic scholar. 8/27, 7:30 p.m.: It's fantastic in the original sense of the word: The Other Worlds Reading Group will meet to discuss The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson at Bookshop Benicia. All fantasy fans are welcome. 8/28, 7:30 p.m.: The ghost town in the machine: Raised on gold-rush tales, UCSC grad and desert-rat-and-proud-of-it Margaret Sprague will show slides based on Bodie's Gold: Tall Tales and True History from a California Mining Town at Easy Going Berkeley. 8/28, 7 p.m.: He saw humankind at its worst and best as a private investigator; now Vallejo's David Corbett has put it into his second crime novel, Done for a Dime, from which he'll read at Lafayette Books. 8/28, 7:30 p.m.: Marie Etienne's mother once kicked a puppy to death. And she sneaked into her kids' rooms at night to beat the bejesus out of them. Not exactly what you'd expect from a Southern socialite, but Etienne coolly blasts such expectations with her new memoir Storkbites, from which she'll read at Black Oak. 9/1, 11 a.m. -- 2 p.m.: A benefit brunch at Hs Lordships Restaurant, hosted by Rainbow Berkeley, will celebrate the local LGBTQI community -- that's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and questioning, for the acronym-challenged. Sex columnist Carol Queen is the keynote speaker. Details: 510-559-9184. -- Anneli Rufus
You can learn a lot about life by riding around in a city taxicab, the saying goes. Photographer Greg Roden (an Express employee, we should note) evidently agreed. In the spirit of Travis Bickle and the SF Chron's "Night Cabbie," he parlayed his time behind the wheel in SF into another career. Beginning in 1996 when he started driving a hack, Roden shot more than 400 rolls of black-and-white film on the job. "Access to these people, a studio on wheels, that's what I was looking for," he writes on his Web site, GRPhoto.net/taxi: you can see the results (right) at the Doyle Street Cafe (5515 Doyle St., Emeryville), now through October. -- Kelly Vance
They say Ginger Rogers' dancing was actually superior to Fred Astaire's, proven by her performing all his steps backwards, in heels. The playing field should be relatively more level at Hot to Trot , a weekly dance event for lesbians at the Glenview Performing Arts Center, 1318 Glenfield Ave., Oakland. Learn two-step, swing, salsa, and more from 7:30 p.m., then show off your moves till 11. 510-763-1343. -- Stefanie Kalem
Marley and more in Oakland
Since the demise of Festival at the Lake, Oakland has been in need of a large-scale outdoor community event to celebrate the city's multicultural arts and social interaction. It looks like Labor Day weekend's downtown Art & Soul Festival, now in its third year, is reviving that vibe. It may be minus the Lake, but Art & Soul boasts three days of free music and art (you have to pay for the food) on five stages and on closed-off streets around City Hall's Frank Ogawa Plaza. To bring attention, the city has booked a few "name" acts, most prominently Ziggy Marley on Sunday and jazz-pop singer Rachelle Ferrell on Monday. After spending his life in father Bob Marley's shadow as leader of his sibling band the Melody Makers, Ziggy (right) has taken on his own persona as a strong, socially conscious singer, and the music on his new solo CD, Dragonfly, embraces pop and rock as well as reggae, sounding closer to Ben Harper than to Marley's own dad.
It's the action by our home-based artists that gives the fest its real community flavor, from Saturday's opening set by kids' singer Gary Lapow at noon, to Monday's closing ceremony with Edwin Hawkins & the Unity Mass Choir. In between are Congolese singer Samba Ngo, Ballet Folklorico Cutumba de Santiago de Cuba, Linda Tillery's Cultural Heritage Choir, blues belter Gwen Avery, Walter Hawkins' Love Center Choir, a fashion show, hip-hop dance contest, and dozens of other attractions. It's a chance to bake in the end-of-summer sun and celebrate the best of Oakland. See the Web site for full schedule: ArtandSoulOakland.com -- Larry Kelp