The Bob & Merle Show 

Two legends roll into Oakland

3/14-3/16

Well, the times may be a changin', with boy bands finally on the fritz, Madonna approaching menopause, and American Idol spawning robo-artists, the likes of which make marketing groups drool in their Uggs. But not since Reese's peanut butter cups have two standards been put together to create one great taste. Technically, it's the Bob Dylan show that saunters into the Paramount this week, but with an opener like Merle Haggard it seems a shame not to point out the brilliant but odd coupling. With nearly a hundred albums between them, there isn't a damn thing Simon Cowell could say or do to disparage these legends who've already broken the mold, thank you very much. Dylan, who has lived through the civil rights movement, Beatlemania, fatherhood, and several wars, has had the fortitude to write about each passing with a clarity and sensitivity that resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds. Now, in the autumn of his life, he revises some old favorites and continues to be a prolific artist whose careful observances and unwavering commitment to music has afforded him an enduring career and continued accolades, such as his recent Grammy nod for Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964 -- Concert at Philharmonic Hall.

Haggard, on the other hand, is practically as famous for his antics as for his tunes. An archetypal honky-tonk guy, he has been described as the working man's poet. He brings with him four decades of musical history along with a brand-new album titled Unforgettable ... Merle Haggard -- a compilation of some of his favorite pop classics done up Haggard-style, including "Stardust" and "As Time Goes By."

Crossing genres and being placed simply in the category of singer-songwriter are testaments to an artist's ability to connect with an audience, and to strip free the artifice and embellishments that sometimes mask the lack of something to say; and neither of these men has ever been accused of having nothing to say. The shows start at 7 p.m., Amos Lee opens, and tickets cost $46-$66. For advance reservations go to BobDylan.com/live, call the Paramount at 510-625-8497, or visit the theater box office at 2025 Broadway in Oakland. – Justine Nicole

MON 3/14

Fast, Cheap, and ...

In control.

It's just about spring, isn't it? The time when a young woman's fancy turns to ... plays? Yep, it is indeed that time of year, when the all-gal Shakespeare company Woman's Will sets a topic loose on Sunday night, and seven female playwrights burn the midnight oil (and whatever else they must) to turn in seven scripts by the a.m. -- from whence seven lady directors hit the boards running, working thirty local actors into a theatrical lather in time for an 8 p.m. curtain. Playmaking just doesn't get any more exciting than the annual 24-Hour PlayFest , with the show and auction benefiting Woman's Will's season. The show is at Julia Morgan; tickets cost $12-$25 at the door. For more info: JuliaMorgan.org, WomansWill.org -- Stefanie Kalem

3/11, 3/12

So Suggestive

While the humor in the Un-Scripted Theater Company's You Bet Your Improvisor! live game show (right) isn't quite as raw as the Tourette's Without Regrets' What the Fuck?! Barely Legal Game Show, the folks at Un-Scripted want you to know that this interactive experience ain't G-rated. "If you don't know where babies come from when you arrive," they warn, "you may end up knowing by the end of the show." So visit the Temescal Arts Center at 8 p.m. any Friday or Saturday in March to drop your name in the contestant hat, and leave the kids at home. Cost is $10, $7 for students and seniors. For more info: Un-Scripted.com -- Stefanie Kalem

3/11, 3/12

The Lord's Jazz

By age eight, Mary Lou Williams was known as "the little piano girl of East Liberty," playing the party, wake, silent-film, and brothel circuits with some regularity. As an adult, she was widely considered the greatest female jazz player alive. Her career spanned seven decades of jazz, encompassing everything from bebop to spirituals; it is this latter style that Kim Rankin will celebrate during "Music for Peace," a concert at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. A 35-voice choir, the Dee Spencer Trio, and other guest performers will showcase rare Williams works Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Info: UUOakland.org -- Stefanie Kalem

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