1. Winter sure slapped us in the face last weekend, didn’t it? You know what, though? That’s a good thing. It started with a bang, so maybe it’ll end with a whimper. A little early snow never hurt nobody. Now that the lights are back on and the roads are clear, in Bangor on Friday you can take your pick of fun downtown including rockabilly rockers the Crown Vics at Paddy Murphy’s, the Bill Barnes Jazz Trio at Nocturnem Drafthaus, and songwriter-guitarist Mike Billings at 4Points out in Winterport. On Saturday, the Rock & Art Shop on Central Street hosts songwriting and live painting duo Pocket Vinyl (pictured above) at 8 p.m., while there’s beloved songwriter Jacob Augustine with some special guests at Nocturnem, bluegrass rambling duo the Two Guys at the Big Easy, funksters Juicebox at Ipanema, and rockers the Trendy Robots at Paddy’s. On Sunday, the Keith Anderson Community Center in Orono hosts a free afternoon from 2 to 9 p.m. of local rock and folk bands, including St. Huckleberry, Shawn Mercer, Between Dead Stations, the Trisha Mason Band and Strong Like Bull.
2. It’s First Friday Art Walk night in Portland! Bundle up and get yourself on the streets to see some interesting/weird/cool stuff. While you’re peepin’ them paintings, you can afterwards check out lots of stuff, such as what’s going on at the State Theatre, which hosts a screening of the Almost Ablaze snowboarding documentary, followed by the Sublime tribute band Badfish, while at Port City Music Hall, comedian Juston McKinney will do two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. to benefit the victims of the tragic Noyes Street fire. The Blues Prophets are set for One Longfellow Square, Joe Gallant and Doubting Gravity have a CD release party at Empire, and at Flask, it’s Love night, featuring deep house and techno DJs. On Saturday, Canadian indie rockers Stars are at Port City, Soule Monde and Luke Patchen Montgomery are at One Longfellow, at Geno’s there’s a big pile of Maine metal featuring Carnivore, Sawtopsy, Chaos Machine and Ripfence, and at Bayside Bowl Dustin Saucier and the Sad Bastards (pictured above) perform with guests First in Maths and the Restless Atlantic. Oh, and don’t forget the next installment of the International Heritage Music Series at Mayo Street Arts, featuring Balkan vocalist Eva Salina Primack.
3. I love Hancock County in the fall and winter. There’s just something about it. The tourists are gone, the locals are hunkered in, and now that the holiday season is upon us, it feels more festive too. Or maybe it’s just that growing up we always used to shop in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor for Christmas. Anyway, this Friday both Ellsworth and MDI are fun places to be, with good stuff including the Juke Rockets at the Grand Theatre, Him & Her at Mainely Meat on Main and the Blast Addicts at Chummies, while in Bar Harbor the Thirsty Whale hosts the Trisha Mason Band (pictured), and at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor there’s songwriters Bryan Dyer Stewart and Leonore Hildebrandt. On Saturday, the charming duo Suz and Gibb are at Mainely Meat on Main, while at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor folksinger Dar Williams will take the stage. Across the bay in Rockland, on Friday night the By the Bay Jazz Trio is set for Rock City Coffee and the Midnight Riders are at the Speakeasy, while on Saturday the Aurora Jazz Project will play at Rock City and Raised By Wolves are at the Speakeasy.
4. Get your giggles on this weekend in Brewer with the first-ever Improv ME Festival, organized by Bangor’s own Focus Group improv comedy troupe and featuring improv groups from all over New England; showcases are at 8 p.m. Friday and 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Next Generation Theatre. Also in Bangor this weekend is “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono; this Stephen King and John Mellencamp-penned musical has performances at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, though Saturday may sell out; tickets are $40-$80. Down south, Portland Stage offers its second weekend of “Souvenir,” the hilarious two-person musical about a tone-deaf singer who believes herself to be an operatic diva and her long-suffering accompanist; shows are at 7:30 Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at their theater on Forest Avenue in Portland. Also on Saturday night is an evening with “This American Life” host Ira Glass, set for Merrill Auditorium in Portland at 8 p.m.; tickets are $36-$56.
5. Foodies, eat your hearts out this weekend. In Bangor on Saturday and Sunday there’s the fourth annual Maine Harvest Festival, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Cross Insurance Center, and featuring hundreds of Maine makers, bakers, farmers and chefs selling their wares. Also this weekend in the Bangor area is the annual Culturefest at UMaine, an afternoon of endless international treats and entertainment, set for 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Satuday at the Student Recreation Center; parents, this is a great opportunity to expose your kids to lots of different foods and cultures.