1. The Queen City is a nice place year round, but I personally enjoy it the most in the fall. Halloween. It feels appropriate, somehow. This Friday in Bangor, take your pick of fun including party band the Trendy Robots (pictured at left) at Tantrum Nightclub, acoustic duo Koostix at Paddy Murphy’s, songwriters Zoya Mohan and Sterling Sherman at Nocturnem Drafthaus, and out in Winterport, there’s Chris Ross at 4Points BBQ & Blues. On Saturday, the Fiddlehead Restaurants hosts their first monthly night of music with rock duo The Great Red Sea starting at 10 p.m.; there’s also Fool’s Rule at Paddy’s, the ever-charming duo Him & Her at the Big Easy, and jazz group Mes Amis at Nocturnem. There’s also two cool arts events going on in town — on Friday night the Rock & Art Shop opens its Miniature Prints show, featuring tons of tiny art prints, and on Saturday photographer Julie K. Gray’s work is the art for October at the KahBang Arts Gallery. And don’t forget the Bangor Symphony Orchestra season opener, at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono.
2. Portland rock royalty is all over the place on Friday, with Rustic Overtones (pictured), who will re-release their breakthrough hit album, “Viva Nueva,” that night at Port City Music Hall. There’s also Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems with Kalen & the Sky Thieves and Scott Girouard at Empire, there’s punk rock with the Real Kids, the Nervous Eaters and the Flipsides at Geno’s, and at Asylumn, 90s rockers Days of the New will take the stage. On Saturday, the legendary Mike Watt plays with local guys Whale Oil at Port City, while Mama’s Boomshack and OC & the Offbeats are at Empire, metal men Nobis, Ruin and Swarmlord are at the Asylum, Vigils & Thieves are set for Bayside Bowl, and Bulgarian folk trio Mahala is at Mayo Street Arts. It’s also the album release party for Portland electro-pop ensemble Sunset Hearts, set for the Space Gallery and featuring guests AFRAID, Altered Gee and Mr. Neet. On Sunday, banjo whiz Dom Flemons is at One Longfellow Square. Feeling more theater-y? Portland Stage offers Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” all month, Wednesdays-Sunday, and Mad Horse Theater Company in South Portland offers Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge,” Thursdays-Sunday at the Hutchins School.
3. As far as I can tell, most of the the southern half of the state is in peak foliage right now. Celebrate fall this weekend on the Midcoast, starting Friday, when the Wicked Blues Band is at the Speakeasy in Rockland, or on Saturday, when there’s an Irish session at Rock City Coffee and the band Mid Life Crisis at the Myrtle Street Tavern, both in Rockland. Friday and Saturday is also Searsport’s annual Fling Into Fall celebration, this year featuring a chili cookoff between Searsport police, fire and EMTs; scarecrow and jack o’ lantern contests; a big bonfire and music from the Juke Rockets Friday night, and Tonka toy truck restorations, antique cars and much more.
4. One of the best Oktoberfest celebrations in the state has got to be the annual Swine & Stein event in Gardiner. From 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday, there’s tons of great beer — 12 varieties in total, from Maine breweries including Allagash, Peak, Funky Bow, Baxter, Gritty’s, Geary’s, Sebago, Ricker Hill Cider and many more — and tons of delicious, juicy, locally raised pork dishes to sample. Sausages. Chops. Pulled pork. You name it. Music from the likes of Monique Barrett and Sorcha, Gunther Brown, the Jason Spooner Band, the Spare Parts Band and a German Oktoberfest ensemble. A rock paper scissors competition. A chicken throw (whatever that is). Frozen t-shirt race. All for just $15 (those under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). For more info, visit the Gardiner Main Street website.
5. There’s also Sunday River’s annual Fall Festival, which is set for the full weekend and features a wild assortment of events, including the big one — the annual North American Wife Carrying Championship, an event that draws thousands of spectators to the slopes of Sunday River in Bethel to watch 50 teams of two (husband and wife or other couple) compete in this Finnish-style race for the grand prize of the wife’s weight in beer, plus five times her weight in cash. There’s also a corn hole championship on Sunday, a huge craft fair, wine and beer tastings, and music from Tomorrow Morning, Gang of Thieves, Pete Kilpatrick and the Mallett Brothers Band. For information, visit the Sunday River website.