Wheeler the Great 

Ten tons of rock at the Stork

THU 3/31

If you go to the Stork tonight, make sure you have your last drink in hand before the headliner goes on; there will be very little between-song breakage in which to frolic to-and-fro. San Francisco's Appreciation don't go for that, no can do -- think slow builds, eddying pools of rhythm, and guitar crescendos. Think inside-out sunsets and faeries in chains. Think Black Sabbath stretched out to Amon Düül II size. And don't think twice about getting to the show early, since it's the Saviours' first night out with Drunk Horse's Cyrus Comiskey on bass; the Oakland band -- featuring members of Yaphet Kotto -- traffics in a sound that's part muddy stumble, part punk battery. Also on the bill Thursday night is Olympia sludge trio Nature and Oakland slag rock stalwarts Shevel Knievel, who have recently welcomed the Doozers' Paco to their still-warm drum stool. The action begins at 9 p.m., the show's 21 and up, cover's $5, and the Stork is at 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 510-444-6174. -- Stefanie Kalem


Lit Happens

Her literally noble detective, the lordly Inspector Lynley, faces the ultimate challenge in Elizabeth George's latest murder mystery, With No One as Witness. George, who writes about Britain as if she were from there, though she isn't, reads at the Berkeley Public Library's main branch as a benefit sponsored by Cody's (for advance ticket details, call the store) (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... From Chinese foot-binding to Hollywood stomach-stapling with corsets and boob jobs in between, feminist historian and Secret History of the Witches author Max Dashu presents a slide show, "Taming the Female Body," at Changemakers (Wed., 7:30 p.m.). ... In Cara Black's latest venture, Murder in Clichy, Paris-based private dick Aimée Leduc gets involved with a Vietnamese temple, a shooting, and beaucoup mysterious francs. Meet the San Franciscan Francophile at Orinda Books (Thurs., 4 p.m.). ... So little is known about that elusive Elizabethan, but David Riggs reveals what he can in his new bio The World of Christopher Marlowe. Was Marlowe an atheist? Was he gay? How much did he actually influence Shakespeare? Find out at Black Oak (Thurs., 7:30 p.m.). ... A true story evoking today's Terri Schiavo case inspired No no the saddest, Alan Bern's book of poetry about his late wife. Accompanied by dancer Lucinda Weaver, he reads at Spellbinding Tales (Sat., 7 p.m.). ...It's a 1902 New York typhoid epidemic that sets PI Molly Murphy in motion in Rhys Bowen's latest novel, In Like Flynn. Ask the Agatha Award-winner whether seances really work at Bookshop Benicia (Sun., 4 p.m.). ... Being a weapons and tactics trainer for the Navy inspired Carlye Archibeque to write poetry. She reads some of it with fellow bard Scott Wannberg at Pegasus Downtown (Mon., 7 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

TUE 4/5

Fall Into the Gap

By some reckonings, the inequality of income in America is wider now than it's been since the 1920s, with the middle class being squeezed downward and the very neediest crushed. What will happen if this continues? Former US Labor Secretary and author Robert B. Reich has been noting this phenomenon, and now he's asking the question: "How Unequal Can America Get Before We Snap?" Find out all about it when Reich speaks at UC Berkeley's Wheeler Auditorium next Tuesday at 7 p.m. It's free but you'll need a ticket, from 510-642-9988. -- Kelly Vance

WED 3/30

The Other Side

If you're age 15-18 and you've played so much Katamari Damacy you can't pass a frayed carpet edge without trying to roll up the room, you might like to know that DeVry University is about to start a BS in Game and Simulation Programming, and to kick it off, it's hosting Gamers' Nights Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m., through April 13. 6600 Dumbarton Circ., Fremont. Register to compete: 510-574-1185. -- Stefanie Kalem


Wheeler the Great

Zero-G at the Freight

They love her at Freight & Salvage, and for good reason. Not only is Cheryl Wheeler an extremely gifted songwriter, with a rare ability to home in on the heart of the matter, but she's also a great showperson. "She's hilarious," says Freight publicist Heather Harrington. "She's a songbird and a stand-up comic as well." "I think she's just great," echoes Freight honcho Steve Baker. "She can hold the audience in the palm of her hand. I've seen her do it year after year. She's as good a storyteller as we've seen at the club, and we see them all." Wheeler brilliantly plies her considerable craft on her latest CD, Defying Gravity. The opening six songs are filled with poignant introspection, so much so that the liner notes quote a conversation between Wheeler and her presumed partner Cathleen Joyce in which the artist questions her programming choices. But the CD also boasts a droll song about Hurricane Floyd, an absolute screamer about the cell-phone menace (set to four oft-heard classical ringer tunes), a gently cutting commentary on the experience of airplane flying in our post-9/11 super-control mode era, and, in "This is Me," some of the more beautiful and touching love lyrics you're ever likely to hear.

"Her music has a common denominator that lets you access the emotion of her songs," explains singer-songwriter Claudia Russell. "The first time I heard her, I was completely moved within a couple of chords." Absolutely. Wheeler deserves to fill the house both Wednesday and Thursday nights at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage, 1111 Addison at San Pablo. Info: 510-548-1761. Tickets: 866-468-3399 or TheFreight.org -- Jason Victor Serinus



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