1. Bangor-based Culture Shock readers, I want to know: when you want to go for a quick dip in the water on one of these hot hot days, where do you go? Within 20-30 minutes of Bangor, please. My personal favorite is the public access grassy beach area on the Stillwater in Orono, just off Bennoch Road in Orono. It’s been a toasty one this week, that’s for sure, but the evenings are gorgeous and there’s lots to do in town. Friday night – after you catch River City Cinema’s screening of Judy Garland’s “Summer Stock” in Pickering Square, you can hear jazz man Bill Barnes and his trio at Nocturnem Drafthaus; you can rock with the Rotating Taps at Paddy Murphy’s; you can dance with DJ Magic Man at Ipanema, or you can listen to Travis Cyr & The Strings of Calamity at the Sea Dog, fresh off Cyr’s wildly successful Arootsakoostik Music Festival up in the County last weekend. Saturday night, it’s onto Downtown Soul at Nocturnem, songwriter Chris Ross at Ipanema, and a triple bill of Maine-made awesomeness, with Waterville progressive bluegrass band Raw Chicken, dirty Bangor punk band Wizard Diary, and the magical electro-rock experience that is A Severe Joy (pictured above).
2. Our friends in the south can have their pick this weekend, starting with Empire Dine & Dance, with jammy folk-rockers Soule Monde and Dirigo (pictured) on Friday, and straight up rock on Saturday with Whitcomb, Murcielago and Atlatl. The Project and the Andrew Yankowsky Band are at Port City Music Hall on Friday. Post Provost plays with the Nevaeh Dance Group, the B.A. Canning Band and Builder of the House at the Big Easy on Saturday. The Yonder Mountain String Band takes the stage at the State Theatre on Saturday, too. Oh, and the Marshall Tucker Band is at the Asylum on Saturday night. And let’s not forget Sunday night, when our friends the Milkman’s Union, Jacob Augustine and Tallahassee play at One Longfellow Square.
3. Well, there’s a big party in Rockland this weekend, and it’s a little shindig called the North Atlantic Blues Festival – two days of blues, beer and sunshine. And little doesn’t do it justice, since there are always huge crowds partying into the wee hours. There are countless groups performing both Saturday and Sunday, from the official festival guests like Tab Benoit and John Mayall, and local blues artists playing the pub crawl, like the Juke Rockets, Eric Green, Blind Albert, Mark “Guitar” Miller and many others. Buy your tickets at the gate, or just come for the crawl – either way, I promise you it’s a hell of a time. If indie rock is more your style, may I suggest hitting up the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, which will host When Particles Collide and the very busy A Severe Joy on Friday night, and then Street Sweet Symphony and Greg Jamie of O’Death on Saturday. Also in Bar Harbor, the Finback Alehouse has got The Larks on Friday and Travis Cyr on Saturday. You can close the weekend out with – you guessed it! – more When Particles Collide and A Severe Joy, when they play an early evening (6 p.m.) show at Three Tides in Belfast.
4. Besides the Blues Fest, there are three more big festivals happening this weekend. In brief, there’s the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville, which starts Friday and continues for nine more days, showing a wide array of features and documentaries from all over Maine, the country and the world. Then, there’s the Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls, which celebrates the iconic Maine soda with fireworks, music, food, dancing, kid’s fun and much more. THEN, there’s the Saltwater Celtic Music Festival in Brunswick, two days (Saturday and Sunday) of progressive and traditional Celtic music, this year featuring groups like Enter the Haggis, Black 47, The Makem and Spain Brothers and many more. I know, I know. There’s almost too much to deal with.
5. This weekend’s as good a weekend as any to brave the crowds and head down to Acadia National Park – especially considering that this Sunday it’s Acadia Family Fun Day, an afternoon (2 to 5 p.m.) of kid-friendly events at Acadia’s Sieur de Monts, like carriage rides and a climbing wall. Friends of Acadia and park rangers will be on hand to lead the activities. For more information, visit friendsofacadia.org.