1. Of course there’s lots happening this weekend — it’s New Year’s Eve! I covered a lot of musical happenings in my column this week, but instead of putting them all together in one big list, let’s go by town/region and go a bit further. First off: Bangor. The Downtown Countdown, now in its sixth year, offers up loads of activities for revelers of all ages. For the younger crowd, there’s hat-making and noisemaker creation at the Maine Discovery Museum, magician Danny Baker and dances from the Robinson Ballet at the Bangor Public Library, crown and tiara making at the Maine Discovery Museum, and games and performances from the Step In Time Cloggers at the Hammond Street Senior Center. Youthful performers include the Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestra and 14-year-old musician Ray Costlow at Bangor City Hall. The Bangor Opera House offers up the bluegrass father-and-son duo Maximum Blue and stand up comedian Erik Gundersen, Bagel Central’s got the Preservation Blues Band, the Mass Mutual building on Main Street has got a story slam from 8:30-9:30 and jazz band Velma from 9:30-10:30, and the Union Street Brick Church plays hosts to the Retro Rockerz. Then there’s the street dance and ball drop show in West Market Square, featuring MC Mike Elliott, belly dancers and street performers AO Arts and Casual Arcane, and rockers the Blast Addicts. And there’s lots at local bars, including Mellow Endeavor at Paddy Murphy’s, Eric Green at Nocturnem Drafthaus, Juicebox at the Sea Dog, Rock Revelation at Hollywood Slots and much more.
2. Now onto Portland. We’ve got 80s cover band the Awesome at Bayside Bowl, Kay Gaga with Dean Ford at The Big Easy, the Icing New Year’s Eve dance party bash at the Space Gallery, the Mallet Brothers Band and This Way at Empire Dine and Dance, a night of reggae at Port City Music Hall, two nights of jam band legends Moe at the State Theatre Friday and Saturday night, Paranoid Social Club, Sidecar Radio and the Grand Street Orchestra at the Asylum, and If and It, Glass Fingers and Christopher Pulsani at Local Sprouts Cafe. The Phyzgig Festival wraps up in Portland, with a vaudeville variety show at 2 and 7 p.m. at Portland State, and Bob Marley has his annual New Year’s Eve comedy show at Merrill Auditorium, set for 6:30 and 9 p.m. Up in Freeport, LL. Bean offers a KidNight show featuring Rick Charette and the Bubblegum, fireworks and much more, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The town of Gorham also offers a New Year’s celebration, with music, dancing, magic in venues throughout town.
3. In Belfast, New Year’s By the Bay is in its 15th year, and wow, is there a lot to do. Magician and balloon artist Carol Chapman, caricature artist PJ Carter, a bounce house, horse-drawn carriage rides and a big parade and bonfire are just some of the family-friendly events. There’s also music from the Gawlers, David Dodson, the Hips, the Willy Kelly Band, Catchavibe, Greg & Jessie Boardman, Blue Hill Brass, Spirited Folk, Evergreen, Shades of Blue, David Lewis & Lincoln Blake, Jennifer Armstrong, Tango, Hawk Henries, Mike and Susie Fay, Castlebay, the Bad Daddys, Katahdin Valley Boys, George Lirakis and Shana Hanson. PHEW! Events are offered in 12 venues across town. For a full schedule, visit nybb.org.
4. There are a few fun things happening in downeast Maine this Saturday. For rockers, the 220s are at Chummies in Ellsworth. For island folk, there’s the First Night celebration in Bar Harbor, with a bonfire and hayrides in downtown from 5 to 7 p.m. And in Eastport, there’s the annual Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop is happening once again. The maple leaf drops at 11 p.m. – midnight Atlantic Time, for New Brunswickers — and at midnight EST, the Eastport sardine drops. There’s lots of music, kids events, food and more throughout town; visit the Tides Institute website for more info.
5. Packing up your ski poles for this weekend? Both Sunday River and Sugarloaf have fun New Year’s Even festivities. Sunday River’s got 80s cover band Orange Crush at the Foggy Goggle, the Blue Willow Group at Slider’s Restaurant, Poke Chop and the Other White Meats at the Shipyard Brewhaus, and Now Is Now at the Phoenix House and Well. Fire performer Kait Ma and fireworks will be on the mountain, closer to the big hour. At Sugarloaf, the Bar Stuards will rock the Rack, magician George Saterial will entertain kids at the King Pine Room, and there’s also fireworks on the mountain.