1. What? July? Already? The FOURTH of July? Wowzers! Hang onto this beautiful weekend, folks, because it’s shaping up to be a darn near perfect one. Going into your long weekend, Friday night in Bangor River City Cinema continues its outdoor movie series with a screening of “Jailhouse Rock” at 8:30 p.m. in Pickering Square; later that night, enjoy either jazz man Bill Barnes at Nocturnem Drafthaus, soul sister Stesha Cano at Paddy Murphy’s, and country rockers the Tyler Healy Band at the Sea Dog. On the Fourth of July, Bangor-Brewer’s annual celebration offers a pancake breakfast at the Brewer Auditorium from 6-10 a.m., the parade in downtown Bangor at 11 a.m. and a free concert on the Bangor Waterfront featuring OneSixtyOne and the Stone Doctors from 2 to 9:30 p.m., followed by the fireworks. Also that evening, rocker Riff Johnson is at Paddy’s, and the Big Easy and Blaze have teamed up to offer an afternoon and evening of barbecue and music in West Market Square starting at noon and going all evening.
2. On Friday in Portland it’s your monthly First Friday Art Walk, a fine way to kick off your holiday weekend in the city — walking and talking and looking and sipping and enjoying Portland’s creative community. What could be nicer? Later that night, there’s the the Maine Hip Hop Summit Fundraiser featuring Lady Zen and lots of local hip hop artists at Empire, and the State Theatre kicks off the first of three nights of the simulcast of the Grateful Dead’s final three shows. On Saturday, Portland’s Fourth of July celebration kicks off on the Eastern Promenade around 7 p.m., with vendors, food and a 7:40 performance from the Portland Symphony Orchestra, with guest Melissa Manchester. On Sunday, the Asylum hosts some sweet 90s rock with Powerman 5000, Soil and Three Years Hollow.
3. The Bar Harbor Fourth of July is one of the legendary Independence Day celebrations in the state — pancake breakfast, a 10 a.m. parade, art marketplace, seafood festival, lobster races, live music and wrapping it up with epic fireworks at 9:15 p.m., over beautiful Frenchman Bay. Also that night, honky tonk surf blues duo Crushed Out is at the Lompoc Cafe. Across the bay, on Friday night in Rockland, the Mojo Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band, performs at the Speakeasy, and the Ale House String Band performs at Rock City Coffee. There are lovely small town Fourth celebrations in both Searsport and Camden on Saturday, with the requisite parades, community meals and fireworks.
4. At last check — late morning on Thursday — this weekend is predicted to be mostly sunny and in the low 80s. Perfect beach weather! PERFECT! My hiking pal Aislinn recently compiled this list of beach hikes in Maine. For swimming and sunbathing, my money’s on Reid State Park in Georgetown, Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg, Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Roques Bluff State Park in Washington County, or tiny hidden Lucia Beach in Owls Head.
5. Really, though, this weekend is all about spending time with friends and family. Whether you’re enjoying the fireworks downtown, you’re on the beach, you’re at camp with the whole fam damily, you’re in your backyard over the grill or even just watching the Boston Pops from the comfort of your living room, spend it with the folks you love. Happy summer, everyone!