1. YAY, WE MADE IT THROUGH JANUARY! That shouldn’t be an accomplishment, but considering the wild weather mood swings of the past month, it sure seems like it is. Friday night in Bangor you’ve got your choice of either maritime rockers the Galley Rats at Paddy Murphy’s, the Blood Orange Martini’s at Nocturnem Drafthaus, a big metal show at Tantrum featuring Nobis (pictured), Seize the Vatican and Culling the Herd, out in Winterport there’s Riff Johnson at 4Points BBQ & Blues, and up in Orono, there’s the return of Celtic trio the Napper Tandies at Black Bear Brewing. There’s also the first big show of 2014 at the Cross Insurance Center on Friday night, when the Band Perry and Scott McCreery take the stage. On Saturday night, enjoy either Joe Francis at the Big Easy, the 220s at Paddy’s, rockers Tomorrow Morning at Ipanema, guitar master Mike Billings at 4Points in Winterport, an electronic dance party with DJ Politi at the Bear Brew in Orono, and at 8 p.m. at the Downunder Comedy Club at Seasons in Bangor, there’s comics Adam Hatch, Tim Hoffman, Ian Stuart and Nick Lavalee.
2. I’m liking the fact that there are so many dance parties this weekend. Friday night in Portland brings the Penthouse dance party at Empire, a monthly affair; it also brings New York rockers the London Souls with local rockers Whale Oil at Port City Music Hall, and it brings roots band the Farewell Drifters at One Longfellow Square. On Saturday, there’s a fantastic triple bill at the Space Gallery featuring post-rock bands Arms & Sleepers (pictured), Lymbyc System and the return of Portland band An Anderson. There’s also folk legend Dar Williams at One Longfellow Square, the Bob Charest Band at Empire, and a Maine Roller Derby party featuring King Sickabilly and his Full Moon Boys and the Spillers at Geno’s.
3. Again, with the dance parties! Before we get to that, however, folks on the coast can enjoy either Octavia at Chummies in Ellsworth or Tremolino at Unity Center for the Performing Arts, both on Friday. Saturday, however, has two great dance parties on either side of the bay: a Captain Trips DJ set is ready for the Lompoc in Bar Harbor, and Snowed in 6 is at Three Tides in Belfast, with DJs Matty T and Ian Hammond. There’s also the Crown Vics at Sips in Southwest Harbor, Oversoul at Chummies in Ellsworth, Bobbi Lane Sat at Finn’s in Ellsworth, the Junkyard Cats at the Black Anchor Pub in Blue Hill, and across the bay at Rock City Coffee in Rockland there’s Vicky Andres and Max McFarland.
4. Lots of wonderful premieres and one-offs this weekend, starting with the Penobscot Theatre’s world premiere of “One Blue Tarp,” a play about Maine, written by transplanted Mainer Travis Baker, directed by a Mainer and starring all Mainers. Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Bangor Opera House. Up in Orono, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra offers its yearly pops concert when Lucas Richman leads the BSO in a tribute to composer John Williams, he of “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jurassic Park” and many others; it’s set for 7 p.m. Saturday. Also on Saturday, the Gracie Theatre at Husson offers up “Forbidden Broadway,” a wildly entertaining satirical revue of recent Broadway hits; it’s set for 7:30 p.m. In Blue Hill, the New Surry Theater premieres its prodution of “The Fantasticks,” the beloved, classic musical, set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Hill Town Hall. In Portland, the Good Theater Company presents the comedy “Becky’s New Car,” with performances set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the St. Lawrence Arts on Munjoy Hill in Portland. Finally, Portland Stage offers the final weekend of its Studio Rep series, offering new, challenging works, including “The Brown Clouds of Courage,” a musical about relationships, set for 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday, and the Improvised Puppet Project’s “Act One, Scene Two,” set for 3 p.m. Saturday, all at Portland Stage’s facility on Forest Avenue.
5. It’s Superbowl Sunday! While our beloved Patriots didn’t make it, you know you’re still watching. Fire up the wings, get your nachos going and get ready to enjoy some Superb Owls, as Stephen Colbert would say. Not watching from home? May we suggest some of these fine sports bars in Maine. In Portland, there’s always Binga’s Stadium, who do have some incredible wings, and Rivalries is also a favorite. In Belfast, you can’t beat Rollies for great beer and camaraderie, and in Bangor, there’s of course Hero’s, on the Waterfront, and Season’s, on Main Street. Chummies in Ellsworth is also a lot of fun, and don’t forget both Roost locations in Orono and Farmington, and for chain restaurants, there’s Buffalo Wild Wings in Bangor, Auburn and South Portland. Where are your favorite places to watch the game (or, if you’re like me, the commercials)?