1. We are at peak summer, guys. There’s a festival, a show, a party, a thing going on every weekend from here until Labor Day. Strap in! In Bangor this weekend there are lots of things to do on Friday night, including a tasting from the brand new, highly anticipated brewery Strong Brewing from 6 to 8 p.m. at Coespace on Columbia, followed by lots of music in the evening including the Aurora Jazz Project at Nocturnem Drafthaus, rockers Despair at Paddy Murphy’s, reggae kings Catchavibe at Ipanema, blues band the Blood Orange Martinis at the Big Easy, and a night of metal featuring Nobis, Seize the Vatican, Rebirth to Ends and Chaos Machine at Tantrum. You also could catch the first big slate of Mixed Martial Arts fights on the Bangor Waterfront, starting at 6 p.m. that night. On Saturday, one of my personal favorite bands in Maine, Coke Weed (pictured above), will bring serious rockage to the Paddy’s stage. There’s a night of traditional belly dance from the Haus of Paradigm and special guest musician Remaria, also on Saturday at Nocturnem; rounding out the evening around town is Juicebox at Ipanema, Larry, Leslie and Dave at the Big Easy, DJ Miss Thang at Tantrum and an 80s Prom Party at Carolina’s Sports & Spirits.
2. Space Gallery in Portland hosts one of its most music-packed weekends of the whole year. Friday night there’s an evening of electronic music featuring the Mast and Conjeccture; on Saturday it’s all indie rock, with songwriter Ryan Power and local ensemble Forget Forget; and on Sunday wrap it up in a big, loud, fuzzy bow with lo-fi faves Woods, with Parquet Courts and Maine’s own Herbcraft. Check the Space website for more info. Also on tap in Portland this weekend is the State of the State concert on Friday night at – you guessed it – the State Theatre, with local bands Rustic Overtones, the Mallett Brothers Band, Spose (pictured above), the Other Bones and the Wrecking. Friday night at One Longfellow Square is Gonzo Fest – a celebration of the life and attitude of Hunter S. Thompson. Also on Saturday is 80s cover band The Awesome at the Big Easy, and out in Biddeford at the Oak and the Ax is Kell Cycle, Katie Mullins and Lisa/Liza. Don’t forget Saturday, when beer lovers can enjoy yet another beer fest – this time the Craft Beer Festival on the Maine State Pier on Portland’s Waterfront, run by the Maine Brewer’s Guild, with gates open at noon. Wrap it all up on Sunday with This Frontier Needs Heroes, Chris Teret and Aleric Nez at the Oak and the Ax and a fantastic hip hop show at the Big Easy featuring Cannibal Ox, Prop Anon, Brzowski, Violently Ill and DJ Boondocks.
3. Oh boy – it’s North Atlantic Blues Festival weekend in Rockland! This annual shindig is one of the biggest parties to hit the state, with the 18th annual iteration featuring headliners including the legendary Mavis Staples, Corey Harris, Guy Davis, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Popa Chubby, the Holmes Brothers, Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones and many others. At night, Route 1 shuts down and every bar and restaurant in town turns into a party, as the Club Crawl features Maine bands like Blue Steel Express at Tradewinds, the Juke Rockets at the Waterworks Pub, Poke Chop at the Time Out Pub, Blind Albert at Rock City and the annual Eric Green Party blues blowout at the Myrtle Street Tavern. For a complete lineup and for ticket information, visit northatlanticbluesfestival.com. If you find yourself across the bay, at the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor on Friday night there’s an all-night show with Maine songwriter Wesley Allen Hartley – he’s playing solo and with two of his bands, including the Traveling Trees and Dead End Armory. In Northeast Harbor there’s the Crown Vics at Sips on Saturday, and in Ellsworth at Mainely Meat on Main there’s the Blue Sevilles on Friday and Suz and Gibb on Saturday.
4. There are too many great films to mention at the Maine International Film Festival, which kicks off its ten-day run on Friday night in Waterville with several neat events, including an opening night party at the Waterville Opera House with director Jonathan Demme, a screening of Demme’s music documentary “Storefront Hitchcock” featuring the songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, at Railroad Square Cinema. On Saturday there are many more Demme music docs, including “Live from Wildwood Beach” about Kenny Chesney at 12:30 p.m., “Neil Young Trunk Show” at 3:15 p.m. and the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” at 9:30 p.m.. There’s also movies like “Icebound,” a documentary about a legendary 1926 sled dog race to get a vaccination to a remote Alaskan town, set for 6:15 p.m.; “Austenland,” a hilarious take on Jane Austen and romantic comedies, set for 6:30 p.m.; and Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” set for 9:15 p.m. On Sunday there’s movies like the Maine-made “The Guide” at 12:30 p.m., and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” at 6:30 p.m. There are many more films besides just this weekend; for a full schedule and for venues, visit miff.org.
5. Arootsakoostik! This annual music festival brings together the best of the best in Maine indie rock, folk, bluegrass and more. It kicks off bright and early at 10 a.m. Saturday at Thomas Park in New Sweden in beautiful Aroostook County, with a performance from festival organizer Travis Cyr and his Strings of Calamity. Throughout the day, there’s music on two stages from the likes of Jacob Augustine, Jesse Pilgrim, Putnam Smith, Mr. Moon, John Clavette, the Class Machine, Dark Hollow Bottling Company, the Mallett Brothers Band, the Ghost of Paul Revere and many more. Admission is $18, which benefits Dave Lamb of the band Brown Bird, who is undergoing cancer treatment.