1. So what’s the word this weekend? This weekend in Bangor, you can start by catching the last performances of Penobscot Theatre Company’s “Boeing-Boeing,” a laugh riot if ever there was one, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bangor Opera House. At Paddy Murphy’s, there are two great bands — Aroostook County’s own songwriter hero, Travis Cyr and the Strings of Calamity, will rock on Friday, followed on Saturday by the Rotating Taps (known previously as Sam & Yuri) with their melodic indie pop rock. The Big Easy at the Charles Inn has got an Eric Green solo set, and up in Orono at the Keith Anderson Community Center, the Wyld Blue Yonder Bluegrass Special – a group of talented young Central Maine musicians – will play at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Also on Orono, hardcore kids can bang their heads to Too Late the Hero, Legend Has It and Sufferer, Friday night at Curva Ultra Lounge.
2. Portland is jam-packed with fun all weekend long, starting with Friday night, when the Space Gallery hosts Maine favorites (and personal favorites of mine) the Toughcats (pictured at left) and the Milkman’s Union, who will open for composer Nat Baldwin, of indie rock favorites the Dirty Projectors; show starts at 8 p.m. and admission is $12 at the door. Empire Dine & Dance has two great shows this weekend — local metal, with Murcielago, Roadsaw and We Own Land on Friday, and local bluegrass and folk with This Way, Kingsley Flood and the Tricky Britches on Saturday. The Big Easy Loung hosts a night of alt-country with the Mallett Brothers Band and Eastbound Jesus, on Friday, and then on Saturday it’s soul on the menu, with the Kenya Hall Band.
3. It’s Oscar weekend! It’s a big night for who have actually seen any of the nominees that have actually played anywhere other than Railroad Square Cinema — thank you to them, of course, and a hearty “Come on, really?” to movieplexes that won’t show anything other than kids movies, blamsplosion flicks and romcoms. That said, if you’re of a pop cultural and cinematic mindset, they’re awfully fun to watch. Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, the Strand Theatre in Rockland and Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor all host Oscar parties, all starting around 6 or 7, when the red carpet coverage begins. It’s free at the Strand, and there’s a cover at Reel Pizza and Railroad – but you get snacks and the added benefit of supporting great local cinemas.
4. Roller Derby takes over southern Maine this Saturday, when Maine Roller Derby’s Calamity Janes take on Montreal’s Sexpos, starting at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Happy Wheels in Portland. These two teams are the “B-teams” of Maine derby, but don’t worry – the action will be just as tough as any other bout you’ll see. There’s a $5 cover, and afterwards, there’s a party at Flask Lounge in Portland.
5. Finally, it’s the end of school vacation week for kids, and parents, I’m sure you’ve exhausted a lot of ideas for entertaining them sans snow. May I suggest an extremely cool event this weekend in the Portland area? Phyzgig, the annual celebration of circus arts and performance, will have a special show at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, featuring the hilarious juggling and dance dup AudioBody, clowning artist Randy Judkins and magicians Norman Ng with Dan Link, starting at at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24. Admission is $16, but it’s just $10 for 12 and under – and trust me, it’ll be a show your kids will never forget.