1. Your weekend in Bangor brings the first hip hop show of the year at Tantrum, featuring Wu Tang Clan member Raekwon (pictured), with a Saturday show, moved from its original Thursday date as Raekwon had to reschedule after transportation difficulties, and also featuring Green Tank and the Jumpoff; tickets are $20/$25 for 18 plus. Moving back, on Friday, you can check out any of the following: rockers the Blast Addicts at Phoenix Pub, reggae band Knotty Pine at the Sea Dog, indie rockers Rotating Taps at Ipanema, the jangly harmonies of Temperature of the Sun at Paddy Murphy’s, or guitarist Dave Mello at Nocturnem Drafthaus. On Saturday, enjoy When Particles Collide and Aloud at Paddy Murphy’s, Bizzy Gruntry at the Big Easy at the Charles Inn, and tuneful duo the London Boys at Nocturnem, and in Old Town, there’s DJs Skyelyne and Tranceform at Kingman’s. This is also one of the first Thursdays that the Rage Bus runs; for $5, on the half hours between 9:30 p.m. and 2 a.m., you can go to and from the Bear Brew parking lot in Orono to Pickering Square in downtown Bangor.
2. A big shakeup for the Portland music scene: Empire Dine & Dance (pictured), the terrific small venue on Congress Street, has been purchased, and this weekend is its last for live music for a few months. The word on the street is that the downstairs area will be reopened in early summer as a Chinese restaurant – which the Empire building originally was, back in the day – and the upstairs is tentatively planned to reopen this summer as well, still as a music venue. Fingers crossed it’ll remain a hub for local shows. For the last Empire weekend, catch Anna & the Diggs, Andy Happel, Amy Allen and Dawn Mitschele on Friday, a CD release for hip hop artist Flannibis on Saturday, and the Saccarappa Boys and North of Nashville on Sunday. On Friday night you can hear the Nigel Hall Band at the Big Easy, the Tricky Britches and the Whiskey Boys at the Oak and the Ax in Biddeford, and When Particles Collide, Aloud and Ginlab at Bayside Bowl, and at Port City Music Hall it’s the annual Stache Pag mustache party event. And don’t forget the Friday concert at the State Theatre with Bad Religion, the Bronx and Polar Bear Club. Moving onto Saturday, it’s the 30th anniversary celebration of Geno’s Rock Club that night, with a special show featuring Hessian, Pigboat, the New Technicians and the Pontiffs, while at Space Gallery Saturday enjoy Nightmare Air, Endless Jags and Boom Said Thunder, Dave Mason of Traffic is at the Asylum, and at Port City Music Hall check out a reunion show for Sparks the Rescue, with guests Too Late the Hero and Lannen Fall.
3. Friday night in Hancock County, your options include rockabilly favorites the Crown Vics at Finn’s Irish Pub in Ellsworth, and at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor there’s the progressive bluegrass of Cribstone. Saturday night in Knox County, enjoy the sounds of the Trisha Mason Band at the Myrtle Street Tavern, soulful country chanteuse Shanna Underwood (pictured) at Billy’s Tavern in Thomaston, songwriting duo Two Birds One Stone at the Smokestack Grill in Camden, Irish musicians Pat O’Connor and Eoghan O’Sullivan at Rock City Cafe, and at the Time Out Pub in Rockland there’s the fourth annual Mustache Bash, set for 8:30 p.m. and featuring the band Black Cat Road; bring your ‘staches.
4. It’s opening weekend for the brand new play from Maine playwright John Cariani (pictured); “Lovesick” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Portland Stage on Forest Avenue, and continues with shows at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Focus Group brings the improv funny at 8 p.m. Friday night at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer. It’s also the last weekend for Penobscot Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Wit,” with performances set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, and it’s the last weekend for New Surry Theatre’s “The House of Blue Leaves,” set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Blue Hill Town Hall; AND it’s the first weekend for “An Evening with Christopher Durang,” a selection of short plays by the playwright, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Pavilion Theatre on the UMaine campus. Finally, you can catch Portland comedian that are part of the Portland Comedy Co-op on Saturday night at the Oak and the Ax in Biddeford.
5. Easter’s a little early this year, but the ground will be just bare enough to enjoy a good old-fashioned egg hunt. A short list of hunts open to the public include the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pinnacle Ski Slope in Pittsfield, the Children’s Museum of Maine Egg Hunt at 9 a.m. Saturday at the museum in Portland ($6), the City of Bangor Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hayford Park, the Dorcas Library Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. Saturday in Prospect Harbor, the Knox County Humane Society Egg Hunt benefit at 11 a.m. Saturday at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Rockland, and an Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. Sunday at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley.