1. For your Friday night kickoff to the weekend, you’ve got several choices in downtown Bangor. Local band OneSixtyOne makes its debut at Paddy Murphy’s Friday night, playing heavy rock, somewhere in between Queens of the Stone Age, Pearl Jam and Motley Crue. At Ipanema’s, you can check out the entertaining acoustic duo the Seasick Crocodiles. At Woodman’s in Orono, the Poor Folk will groove out most excellently for all you college students – or check out the DJ collective Helicopter Showdown, with DJ Les and the Professionals, at Kingman’s in Old Town. On Saturday, there’s Mellow Endeavor at Nocturnem, Magnetic North at Paddy’s, and the really big show at Mezzenine at Zen – WPC Presents’ first-ever Anti-Valentine’s Day Prom, featuring A Severe Joy, Yes We Kin, Pretty & Nice (pictured at left) and When Particles Collide. I caught Pretty & Nice a few years back when they played with Feel It Robot in Orono, and they were pretty, nice and extremely, extremely fun.
2. Continuing on with the theme of killer rock n’ roll statewide, Friday night there’s a smorgasbord of good times all over the place. Empire Dine & Dance on Congress Street in Portland has got folk punkers Butcher Boy with Movie Knight and 13 Crystal Skulls. There’s Quebecois music at One Longfellow Square with Le Vent du Nord, and bluesman James Montgomery at Port City Music Hall as well. Outside of town, you can catch roots duo Hoots & Hellmouth at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield. There’s also a quadruple threat of indie punk at the Bombshelter in Brunswick, with the Rattlesnakes, Berth Control, Foam Castles and Bath Salts (yes, Bath Salts). Moving onto Saturday, you can check out Josh Thompson, the Mallet Brothers Band and Chris Cavanaugh at the Asylum in Portland, and get your metal on with Hessian and Dementia 5 at Geno’s Rock Club.
3. In the Bangor area, there are two great shows opening this weekend. Penobscot Theatre Company opens “Boeing-Boeing,” the classic French sex farce, starting at 8 p.m. Friday at the Bangor Opera House; shows are also at 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. At the University of Maine, the Maine Masque offers up the first-ever Bangor area production of the profane puppet musical “Avenue Q,” with shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Hauck Auditorium on the UMaine campus. Or, alternately, the Stonington Opera House offers up its second weekend of “The Aliens,” set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, and Portland Stage has got another weekend of “Trouble Is My Business,” based on the stories of Raymond Chandler, set for 7:30 Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the theater on Forest Avenue.
4. So what if there’s no snow to speak of? Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy winter. The Camden Snow Bowl hosts the 22nd annual Toboggan Championship runs from Friday to Sunday, and while registration is full for the actual competition, there’s lots of fun planned around it for spectators. There’s open tobogganing down the Snow Bowl’s crazy fast chute from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, followed by a bonfire, music and food from 5 to 8 p.m. The competition itself runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. There’s a chili competition from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, a chowder competition from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, fireworks, mechanical bull rides, a pancake breakfast on Sunday and much more. Snow? We don’t need no stinkin’ snow!
5. It’s a great weekend for telling stories and making people laugh. Friday night, you can catch Slant, a storytelling series, set for 7 p.m. at the Space Gallery on Congress Street in Portland. The theme this time is stories of illnesses or mistakes, with storytellers including Cathy Kidman from the Maine Women’s Fund, Joe Ricchio of Maine Magazine and Food Coma TV, The Telling Room’s own Andrew Griswold, Maine Med physician Renee Fay-LeBlanc, writer and clinical social worker Jennifer Lunden and Leah Heyman, instructor at Chewonki. Up north, in Brewer, on Friday night you can get your laugh on with The Focus Group (pictured above), improv comedy featuring local actors and comedians, starting at 8 p.m. at the Next Generation Theater on Center Street. The theme this time is of course, love, and admission is $5. And finally, on Sunday in Orono there’s the first StorySlam of 2012, set for 7 p.m. at Verve on Mill Street. It’s also got a love theme — ’tis the season. Get there early and get your name in the running to bare your soul.