1. Somebody should start a restaurant that’s only open from November to March, and only serves hot soup and hot toddies and hot tea. That’s it. I would go to that place all the time. In lieu of that, in Bangor you can warm up one of these ways: on Friday, there’s improv comedy with the Focus Group at Next Generation Theater in Brewer, there’s One Shot Nothing at Paddy Murphy’s, there’s Dave Mello at Nocturnem Drafthaus, there’s the Blood Orange Martinis at the Big Easy, there’s songwriter Everett Dumas at 4Points BBQ & Blues in Winterport, and at Tantrum, there’s a very big night of electronic music featuring Psymbionic, Of The Trees and Satori. On Saturday, there’s a rare solo appearance by songwriter Ryan Montbleau (pictured), set for 8 p.m. at Minsky Recital Hall on the UMaine campus in Orono; the $20 ticket benefits 4-year-old Jaxon, an Orono resident battling leukimia. You can also enjoy on Saturday either rockers Rebel Riot at Paddy’s, reggae band Knotty Pine at Ipanema, or at Nocturnem, the engaging sounds of Americana duo the Coloradas.
2. Friday night Empire hosts a night of music and comedy, to benefit Portland music fan Brittany Riley, who has been battling bone cancer for the past three years; join Will Mallett, the Kilcollins and Dhamma Lions, as well comedians Paul Hunt, Ian Stuart and Nick Lavallee for a good time for a good cause. For comedy fans, it’s also the start of a two-night stand featuring Maine native Ray Harrington at the recently re-opened Big Easy. Also on Friday is a trio of Maine punk bands at Mayo Street Arts, featuring Nuclear Bootz, I Suppose You Know Karate and Bath Salts, while over at Geno’s there’s some dark and gorgeous rock featuring Johnny Cremains, Triage and Texarkana, and at One Longfellow Square there’s Maine legend Jonathan Edwards. On Saturday night, Port City Music Hall hosts the third anniversary part for Baxter Brewing, featuring Spose with funk all stars Sly-Chi, the Mallett Brothers Band and singer-songwriter Dave Rowe. Also on Saturday is Maine-via-Brooklyn singer Elijah Ocean (pictured above), with the John Clavette Band, set for Empire, a sold out show from Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters at One Longfellow, and at Mayo Street Arts there’s a night of modern folk music featuring the Bumbling Woohas, the Jackal Rats, Billy Jack and Greg McKillop and the Slightly Smaller Band.
3. For the third year in a row, the Knights of Columbus in Ellsworth will host the To Warm a Winter’s Night fundraiser, which raises money for heating assistance for those in need. The show is set for the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth at 7 p.m. Friday, and it features rockabilly band the Crown Vics, songwriter Bobbi Lane, Celtic band Mac Lir Ceiladh, and the Trisha Mason Band. On Saturday night Downeast, you can check out Tomorrow Morning at the Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor, the band Baroses — the new project from Wesley Allen Hartley — at the Lompoc Cafe, also in Bar Harbor, and the 220s at Chummies in Ellsworth. Across the bay, enjoy the Eric Green Party Saturday night at Myrtle Street Tavern, Raised By Wolves at Rock City Coffee, and gypsy jazz band the Burners at Billy’s Tavern.
4. So, yes, it’s been a little on the chilly side this weekend. But Saturday it’s going to warm up to a balmy 25 to 30, so what better day to celebrate the winter outdoors? Out in Bridgton, there’s the Musher’s Bowl Winter Carnival, in which dog sledders from around Maine and Canada compete for canine glory, starting Saturday and going through Monday. Also this weekend — Thursday through Saturday — is the Rangeley Snowmobile Snodeo, one of the biggest gathering of snowmobiles in the state. There’s also the two of the biggest ice fishing derbies in the state this weekend, with with Long Lake Ice Fishing Derby set for Saturday and Sunday in beautiful St. Agatha in Aroostook County, and the Moosehead Ice Fishing Derby set for Friday-Sunday, with home base in Greenville.
5. Every year, there’s the Pies on Parade Festival in Rockland, and every year, you promise yourself you’ll go, because you love pie, like any sane human being does. Let this year be the year you indulge your love of the greatest dessert every invented by humankind, and get down to the Lime City for the event, set for 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. There are 25 locations each offering a different pie, from apple and blueberry to lavender honey yogurt and a multitude of quiches (basically a pie). Tickets for the tour are $25, available at any of the historic inns of Rockland.