The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

Freebie of the week: If you’re like us, this week each year slaps you with the post- Labor Day letdown phenomenon: the feeling that another summer has slipped by. It doesn’t matter that there are a gazillion fun things in the Bay Area all year round, or that the area’s best weather usually happens when it’s not summer. It’s just that feeling that another carefree summer is gone. To combat this, take in a fun festival, which, thankfully, you can still do well past Labor Day. This weekend, for example, features one of the Bay Area’s best and most popular events – the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday. This event takes the “Art” part of its title seriously. More than 350 artists of all sorts will be displaying their works, and there will be a “Collaborative Paint Temple” organized by Bay Area artist Richard Art Felix allowing artistic types (or wannabes) a chance to contribute to an evolving art project. Also on hand will be delicious things to eat and drink, a Dancepark with live DJs, plenty of kids activities, a Community Stage for local performers itching to strut their stuff and a full slate of lively cover bands including Bay Area favorites Cisco Kid, The Houserockers, Tortilla Soup and the Megatones. The event runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday along Mountain View’s Castro Street. Admission is free. More information is at 

The famed 1970s jazz-rock-fusion band Shakti is back on tour with two Northern California concerts. (Photo courtesy Shakti)

Shakti on tour: During the freewheeling heyday of the rock/jazz fusion era in the 1970s, one of the most revered guitarists making the scene was John McLaughlin. His otherworldly fretwork talents were matched with a restless yearning to bring rock and jazz to places no one had gone before. He founded the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1971 with other explosive talents — drummer Billy Cobham and keyboardist Jan Hammer — and the band was known for its dizzying and complex sound merging jazz, rock, psychedelia, classical Indian music and more. After the group, beset with internal divisions, dissolved, McLaughlin formed Shakti with acclaimed tabla master Zakir Hussain to further explore the marriage of rock and Hindustani and Carnatic Indian music forms. Like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Shakti developed a passionate following with its intense, complex and brilliantly delivered songs and performances. The band toured extensively for several years before largely going quiet, although McLaughlin and Hussain rejoined in the 1990s to form a band called Remember Shakti that performed and recorded for several more years. Then in 2020, McLaughlin and the Bay Area-based Hussain reunited again as Shakti (just Shakti), adding vocalist Shankar Mahadevan and other musicians. The band in June released its first album in 46 years, “This Moment.” Now it’s on its first major tour in 16 years, which stops at UC Davis’ Mondavi Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday ($29-$95; and at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco at 8 p.m. Saturday ($50-$175; McLaughlin and Hussain show no signs of slowing down these days, but fans of mind-blowing improvisational jazz-rock are encouraged to take advantage of this rare opportunity to see such monumental talent and creativity at work. 

Tenor Roberto Alagna and soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, partners in life, will also partner on stage for a concert event that will launch the San Francisco Opera’s 101st season. (Photo courtesy Lukasz Rajchert)

SF Opera turns 101: As San Francisco Opera enters its second century with a season opening program Friday night, it jettisons a long tradition of kicking things off with a popular opera and opts instead to mount a concert starring two big-name talents, the celebrated tenor Roberto Alagna, making his S.F. Opera debut, and his wife, soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, who starred as Gilda in the company’s 2012 production of “Rigoletto.” The 90-minute concert, conducted without intermission by music director Eun Sun Kim, will consist of selections from Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci,” Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Manon Lescaut,” Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” and Saint-Saëns’ “Samson et Dalila.” A glitzy dinner and a post-concert opera ball complete the evening for the high rollers, but you can attend the 8 p.m. concert in person for $30 to $300 tickets or – and this is a first, pay $27.50 for a livestreamed performance. Find tickets and more information about the upcoming season at

L-Rl Melissa Sondhi and Joshua Sanders appear in Opera San José’s “Romeo and Juliet” playing Sept. 9–24, 2023 at the California Theatre in San Jose. (Photo courtesy David Allen)

Shakespeare in San José: Also launching its new season this weekend is Opera San José, which marks its 40th year with an all-new production of Charles Gounod’s gorgeous “Romeo and Juliet,” opening at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the California Theatre. Tenor Joshua Sanders, making his company debut, stars as Romeo, and the role of his beloved Juliet will be shared by two sopranos, Melissa Sondhi and Jasmine Habersham. Joseph Marcheso conducts and Shawna Lucey directs the production, which will be sung in French with both Spanish and English supertitles. Though the opera is based on the famous Shakespearean tragedy (and its smashing success revived the composer’s faltering career in 1867), Gounod did depart from the Bard’s script in one striking move in the tomb scene  – he gives the two lovers a final duet by having Juliet awaken a bit before the poison he has taken kills Romeo. There are four repeat performances of the opera, which concludes its run Sept. 24. Find tickets, $55-$195, at or (408) 437-4450

Gabby Momah, left, and Mikee Loria star in “Wolf Play” for Shotgun Players. (Robbie Sweeny/Shotgun Players)

Pack mentality: In Hansol Jung’s new play “Wolf Play,” the 6-year-old “Boy” at the center of the story decides he relates more to wolves than humans. And you can hardly blame him. “Wolves suck at being alone,” the boy, Jeenu, observes at one point. “Wolves need family.” But this Korean-born lad’s journey toward being part of a family is not exactly a traditional one. He is adopted by a young American couple who subsequently decide they can’t handle him, especially after they begin to prepare to have their own biological child. So they decide to “rehome” Jeenu via the internet, and he winds up at the home of a lesbian couple, one of whom is an aspiring boxer. It’s a harrowing turn of events for poor Jeenu told with humor, poignancy and puppetry, as “Wolf Play” explores what it means to be a family, and to need others, in the fractured landscape that is the 21st century. After a well-received off-Broadway debut last year, “Wolf Play” is getting a production by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players through Oct. 1. Performances are at Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley. Tickets are $30-$46. The show is also available for live-streaming Sept. 14 and 21 and will be available on Video on Demand ($20 each). More information is at