1. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for all things Irish. Maybe it’s the summer I spent in Ireland, or maybe it’s just that I enjoy a drink and a song at the pub. Either way, St. Patrick’s Day – amateur hour though it may be – is a hoot. Some highlights for this Sunday start in Bangor, with the annual day-long party set for Paddy Murphy’s; music starts at 6 a.m. with a reunion show from Bangor’s Irish punk band the Bar Stuards, followed by Maximum Blue, Travellin’ Mark, the Blood Orange Martinis, and wrapping up with another set at 9 p.m. from the Bar Stuards. Meanwhile, Geaghan’s Pub, also in Bangor, has bagpipers all day, and sets from Bangers and Mash at 4 p.m., the Highland Pipers Drum Band at 7 p.m.., and an Irish music session from 8-10 p.m. There’s also a performance from Maine roots group Schooner Fare, set for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Brewer Performing Arts Center. Down south, Brian Boru in Portland has food, music and poetry readings starting at 9 a.m, Irish dancers and pipers all afternoon and local bands in the evening. Bull Feeney’s in Portland has Irish food all day, and music from the likes of Dave Rowe, the Milliners, the Red Light Revue, Randy Billings, Jake McCurdy, All Covered Up, the Maine Public Safety Bagpipers and many more. The Maine Irish Heritage Center hosts parades at 8:30 a.m. and noon in Portland, and don’t forget the Bath Blarney Days, which actually started in Bath on Monday and continues on Saturday with an 11 a.m. parade, and a 7 p.m. Blarney Ball at the Winter Street Center; on Sunday’s there’s an Irish soda bread baking contest and Irish music in restaurants and bars downtown. And don’t forget Three Tides in Belfast, who have got Old Grey Goose, and Billy’s Tavern in Thomason, which has music all weekend, with the Alehouse String Band on Friday, An-Grian on Saturday, and Curlew on Sunday. Slainte!
2. If Irish stuff isn’t your thing, however, there’s still plenty of other stuff to do in Bangor this weekend. Friday brings the first Downtown Bangor Art Walk of the year, with 15 spots around town to check out things like the new exhibits at the University of Maine Museum of Art, presentations from UMaine Intermedia MFA grad students at Coespace on Columbia Street, and Pigeon’s “Imagining the Venice of the North” silent auction at the KahBang Arts Gallery on Harlow Street. It’s also opening night for Penobscot Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Wit,” with performances set for 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bangor Opera House; there’s also a Story Slam set for 5 p.m. Saturday, right after the performance gets out. Paddy Murphy’s has music from the Blast Addicts on Friday and River Bottom Funk on Saturday, Trisha Mason is at the Phoenix Pub on Friday, there’s a contradance at the UU Church on Friday, Knotty Pine is at the Sea Dog on Saturday, and Sunday afternoon the Main Street R&B Revue takes over the Next Generation Theater in Brewer.
3. What’s fun in Portland? For starters, the Empire hosts Beat Horizon and Gorilla Finger Dub Band on Friday, and two sets from Della Mae on Saturday. The Big Easy brings two shows; Clubber Lang, Heart Shaped Rock and Fifth Freedom on Friday, and Jimmy and the Soul Cats and the Colwell Brothers on Saturday. At the Oak and the Ax out in Biddeford, there’s a night of songwriters featuring Caroline Cotter and Riley Coyote on Friday, and on Saturday, there’s “Queerly Shakespeare,” a local burlesque show. Geno’s Rock Club has Saturday night rock with Sun Gods in Exile, the Humanoids and the Motor Creeps, Port City Music Hall has got the Pete Kilpatrick Band and Ryan Wimbish on Friday and the Cyborg Trio on Saturday, and at the State Theatre, there’s Minus the Bear, Circa Survive and Now, Now, also on Saturday.
4. Make a weekend of it on the Midcoast and Downeast, starting with two cool Saturday night shows – the 220s are at the Myrtle Street Tavern in Rockland, Right Out Straight are at Bowen’s Tavern in Belfast. Across the way, there’s a DJ dance party Friday at the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, wild rockers the Larks (pictured) take over the Side Street Cafe, also in Bar Harbor, on Saturday, at Sips in Southwest Harbor there’s Clusterfunk on Saturday. There’s also a new production from the New Surry Theatre, “The House of Blues Leaves,” the theater classic, with performances set for 7 p.m. March 14 and 16 at the Blue Hill Town Hall.
5. Are you ready for some roller derby? Bangor Roller Derby hosts its first public home bout, set for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Skehan Recreation Center – formerly the old Hampden Academy. Admission is $5, and it’ll pit two teams of BRD skaters (the Gold Diggers and the Rainbros) against each other. There’s a belly dance half time show. Fun for the whole family.