1. Wait a minute. It’s August? Yikes! Better get crackin’ with the summer fun! Downtown Bangor is a relaxed one this week, as the city gears up for the long list of August festivals and concerts. Friday night, “Grease” is the word, as River City Cinema shows the beloved movie musical in Pickering Square at sundown. You can also catch First Friday Jazz at Nocturnem Drafthaus, bluesman Mark Miller at the Big Easy, and karaoke at Paddy’s. Moving onto Saturday, supreme rockers Lit on the Flash (pictured at last month’s West Market Festival) takes over Paddy Murphy’s, while at the Big Easy songwriter Jake Irish takes the stage. Saturday is also the annual Sidewalk Arts Festival in West Market Square. Barring all that, you could always eat a doughboy and then try to not hurl while riding the Zipper at the Bangor State Fair. Yeehaw!
2. The big event this weekend in Portland is, of course, the Gentlemen of the Road festival featuring Mumford & Sons, St. Vincent, Dawes and many others on Saturday. It’s surely the biggest concert to hit Portland in years – an estimated 16,000 people are expected to gather on the Eastern Promenade for the day-long show. The night before there are a number of pre-concert shows, like bluegrass band the Tricky Britches at Empire, the Trickle Down, Line of Force and Boogie on Alice at the Big Easy, and Moshe with DJ Nicotine, 32 French and Dereloid at Asylum. On Saturday, it seems that nearly every bar in town is a Mumford after party, with members of the band actually attending some of them, including Mumford’s Ben Lovett at the Space Gallery, funk band Miss Fairchild and other GOTR guests at Empire, comedian and vocalist Reggie Watts at the Big Easy, an electro-pop dance party at Geno’s, and none other than the Dropkick Murphy’s playing a late show at the State Theatre that night. I recommend drinking a lot of water and possibly a Red Bull, in order to fully attack the day and night.
3. The coast is a mighty fine place to be. It’s Lobster Festival weekend in Rockland, and while you’re there sampling Maine’s finest delicacy, be sure to say hello to my fabulous BDN colleagues that are bopping around. You can also say hello to the folks from PETA that are mad at you for eating lobster, which is a sustainable, wild-caught form of protein with an extremely rudimentary nervous system, that is probably the only meat product that humans actually have to watch being killed. Oops. Did I say that? Anyway, on the other side of the bay, it’s Ellsworth’s First Friday Art Walk, with all kinds of local galleries open. The Grand Theatre hosts “Runway Grand: The Musical,” a combining of the Grand’s yearly local fashion show and a brand-new, original musical performed by local talent; shows are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. On the Ellsworth riverfront at 6 p.m Friday there’s a free show from multi-talented songwriter Audrey Ryan. At Chummies in Ellsworth you can catch Trisha Mason on Friday and the Blast Addicts on Saturday, and in Bar Harbor on Saturday, it’s the Tumblers at Thirsty Whale and world fusion ensemble Balantama at the Lompoc. Close out your weekend as the 220s play a Pink Floyd tribute show at Carmen Verandah on Sunday.
4. As baseball season reaches its summer peak, Orono area theater-goers and baseball fans are both in for a very unique treat. The Summer Musical Theatre Festival at the University of Maine presents its final show of the season – a special Maine performance of “Johnny Baseball,” a new musical being readied for a Broadway debut next year. The musical, written by playwright Richard Dresser, is all about the history of the Red Sox, from the Curse of the Bambino to the 2004 World Series Championship (we’ll disregard the 2012 season, won’t we?). It was staged in Boston in 2010 (pictured), and now it’s making the rounds in New England. Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, this weekend and next, at Hauck Auditorium on the UMaine campus. Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children and students; for information, visit the School of Performing Arts website. In other theater news, performances of “Brigadoon” by the Belfast Maskers continue on the Belfast Waterfront, and “Oliver!” by the New Surry Theatre stays on another weekend at the Blue Hill Town Hall. Ten Bucks Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” moves to Fort Knox State Park this weekend as well.
5. This weekend marks the 12th annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival, an event unlike any other in Maine. This year, the event starts Thursday, Aug. 2 and continues through Sunday. A two day workshop, “Lobster Love Songs: Heroism & Heartbreak,” will blend spoken word and jazz. Participants (no experience necessary) will work with saxophonist Roy Nathanson and poet and human beatbox Napoleon Maddox to create lyrics and join them to rhythms, sound, and melody. The workshop begins Thursday, August 2 from 4-7 at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and continues on Friday, August 3 from 2-5 pm at Opera House Arts’ new Burnt Cove Church facility in Stonington. A performance at Burnt Cove immediately follows at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce ensemble gives a concert at 7 p.m. at the Stonington Opera House. And on Sunday, NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron and Trio (pictured), featuring Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Pete Van Nostrand, will be in concert at 7 p.m. at the Opera House. For tickets and more info, visit operahousearts.org.