1. The lights are lit. The roads are clear. The trees are up. We are knee deep in holiday fever. Celebrate the season this weekend in Bangor, starting with stuff like the naughty jazz ensemble the Bangtown Swingers at Nocturnem Drafthaus, the dance-able Calypso Soldiers at Paddy’s, a double bill at 9 p.m. featuring Mike Billings and Meghan Clark at Tantrum, and out in Winterport at 4Points BBQ & Blues there’s Chris Ross. Also, don’t forget that Godsmack frontman Sully Erna play at the Gracie Theatre at Husson — there are a very small handful of tickets still available. And, of course, “The Wizard of Oz” is in weekend two at the Penobscot Theatre, and if you will take my opinion, I highly recommend getting tickets — it’s one of the most technically impressive, well choreographed, colorful and all-around delightful productions PTC has ever done. Heartwarming, but not cutesy or cloying, holiday fun. On Saturday, take your pick from stuff like the Aurora Jazz Project at Nocturnem, rockers Stone Free at Paddy’s, the charming duo Him & Her at the Big Easy, Tomorrow Morning at Ipanema, and KahBang’s Central Gallery hosts at 9 p.m. screening of the holiday thriller “Gremlins.”
2. In Portland on Friday, you can warm up at Port City Music Hall with Turkuaz and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, or you can celebrate the Bissell Brothers Brewing (logo at left) one year anniversary with guest band Paranoid Social Club. Roots rockers the Black Lilies are at One Longfellow Square, Burundian drumming group Batimbo Beats is at Mayo Street Arts at 7 p.m., it’s Foundation Friday at Flask Lounge featuring down and mid-tempo DJs Mr. Dereloid, Chris Gauthier and Ed Garrison, and at Geno’s, some punk rock for your holiday fancy featuring the Never Nudes, Not30, Dead Man Ramsay and Battery Steele. Moving onto Saturday, Port City hosts Talking Heads cover band Start Making Sense, Scandinavian vocal ensemble Stambandet is set for 7 p.m. at Mayo Street Arts, at Empire there’s a triple bill of songwriters featuring Connor Garvey, Sarah Blacker and Hayley Sabella, and there’s blues on the menu with Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers and the Eric Green Party at One Longfellow. Wrap it up on Sunday with the monthly Classic Album Sundays event at Port City, this month featuring The Clash’s “London Calling.”
3. Aren’t we lucky? It’s going to be a beautiful weekend to run around doing errands and having fun. On Friday on the Midcoat, the blues and jazz group Raised By Wolves is at Rock City Coffee in Rockland, while on Saturday, Rockland good times organization Hot Pink Flannel hosts the Dolphin Strikers at the Speakeasy. There’s also Stesha Cano at Rock City Coffee and rockers No Guts No Glory at Trackside Station (also in Rockland) and there’s a holiday celebration and ugly sweater party at the Water Dog Tavern in Thomaston with the band Storm Warning.
4. Some of the lovely holiday events set for this weekend include the annual Downeast Singers holiday concert, this time with a Latin theme and set for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Camden Opera House; there’s also the Pen Bay Singers holiday concerts, doing a program of both contemporary and modern holiday music, with performances set for 7:30 p.m. at Union Hall in Searsport and 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Belfast. In Portland, Vivid Motion (pictured above) hosts their annual Nutcracker Burlesque, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday at St. Lawrence Arts. In Bangor, the Cross Insurance Center hosts the Broadway touring show Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a dance and music extravaganza set for 7 p.m. Sunday, and at Congregation Beth El, the Jewish and Turkish music group Shtreimel performs at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. In Ellsworth, take your pick of either the Maine Coast Mall Holiday Celebration, set for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, with a bonfire, tree lighting, music, carriage rides, magic shows and a fundraiser for the Ark Animal Shelter. And finally, the Robinson Ballet performs “The Nutcracker” at the Grand Theater, with performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 7 p.m. Saturday.
5. Ski season is well underway. What’s there to do around the slopes? Try something like Sugarloaf, which not only hosts the Dave Keller Band at the Widowmaker both Friday and Saturday, but also hosts a holiday gift bazaar all day Saturday and Sunday. At The Rack, just outside of Sugarloaf, enjoy Tomorrow Morning on Friday, the Dapper Gents on Saturday, or the Steves at 6 p.m. Sunday. At Sunday River, it’s Winterfest weekend, which means on Saturday there’s skiing all day and at night, too, and music from the Aldous Collins Band at 3 p.m. and Congo Sanchez of Thievery Corporation at 9 p.m. Non skiers can also go tubing for a full hour for just five bucks. Finally, it’s opening weekend at Saddleback Ski Resort, which means there’s lots of lovely untouched powder, and on Sunday, Maine residents can ski all day for just $39.