1. The best part of August in Maine? Aside from the crazy amount of fun stuff to do? The THUNDERSTORMS! I know dogs and some humans disagree with me, but I love them. We’ll probably get at least one this weekend. I can’t wait! Friday night, there’s acoustic group Koostix at Paddy Murphy’s, there’s the Bill Barnes Jazz Trio at Nocturnem Drafthaus, and rockers Raven and Riff Johnson are at the Sea Dog. Saturday afternoon brings the annual Homebrew Expo from noon to 3 at Central Street Farmhouse, while the evening brings local favorites the Rotating Taps at Paddy’s, rockers Tomorrow Morning at Ipanema, DJs spinning sweet vinyl at Nocturnem Drafthaus, songwriter Stesha Cano at 4Points BBQ & Blues out in Winterport, indie rockers The Joshua Incident at the Boomhouse in Old Town — and don’t forget, at the Bangor State Fair at 6 p.m. there’s the second of two nights of WKIT’s Homemade Jam showcase, featuring Maine including, this time, Fifth Freedom, the Resistance and Monarch. On Sunday, 4Points in Winterport hosts road warriors Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials.
2. Friday night is First Friday Art Walk night in Portland, which promises to be among the most jam-packed nights Congress Street will see this year. Later that evening, once the steampunk clowns have packed away their old-timey juggling sticks and the little cups of wine have been tossed into the trash, check out either the Dead Sessions at Port City Music Hall, rockers All Talk, Battery Steele, Keeper Class and Hey Zeus at Empire, or ska band El Grande at Portland HOME. On Saturday, the first-ever Portland Lights Festival is set for the Eastern Promenade, featuring tons of food, vendors and music from the likes of Guster, Dr. Dog (pictured), Augustana, Nikki Blum and the Gramblers, In the Valley Below and Dominic and the Lucid; there’s an afterparty at Empire featuring Coke Weed, the Sun Parade and Soft Eyes. Also that night, Dustin Saucier and the Sad Bastards and One Shot Nothing are at Bayside Bowl, songwriter Mary Fahl is at One Longfellow Square, legendary local punks Big Meat Hammer play with the Pests and Caged Heat at Geno’s, and funk powerhouse Sly-Chi is at Portland HOME. On Sunday, progressive r&b star Miguel is at the State Theatre, Nat Baldwin and Greef are at Space, and there’s a night of Celtic music with Matt Molloy, John Carty and Arty McGlynn at One Longfellow.
3. Friday night in Ellsworth the weekly concert in the park on the Union River features the St. Andrews Pipe and Drum Band. Saturday night, the Round House Players are set for the Boatyard Grill in Blue Hill, and at the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, there’s indie/experimental acts Nat Baldwin (pictured) and Greef. Across the bay on the Midcoast, on Friday night the Accidental Seabirds at Rock City Coffee, and Jesse Feinberg jazz is at the Speakeasy, both in Rockland. On Saturday, the Warren Hood Band and the Revelers are at the Strand Theatre, dance band People of Earth are at Highlands Coffeehouse in Thomaston, the Barbour Clarke Jazz Duo are at Rock City Coffee, Primo Cubano Latin jazz are at Speakeasy, and rockabilly guitarist Al Foul is at the Myrtle Street Tavern, in beautiful Rockland.
4. This weekend brings some wonderful theater to Maine, both outdoors and indoors. Ten Bucks Theatre Company presents weekend one of two weekends of a spooky outdoor production of “Dracula” at Fort Knox State Park in Prospect; shows are at 7 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, admission is $10 for all, and you bring a picnic and blanket. In Portland, the Fenix Theater’s free production of Hamlet is at 6:30 on Friday and Saturday at Deering Oaks Park in Portland — free! It’s free! Also around this weekend, there’s a super-fun production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Marsh River Theatre in Brooks at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and there’s the beloved musical “Into the Woods” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the L/A Community Little Theatre at Great Falls Performing Arts Center in Auburn.
5. Up in the beautiful St. John Valley, the annual Fort Kent Muskie Derby and Ployes Festival is set for this weekend — Friday through Saturday, you can eat, shop and spectate your way around Fort Kent. Some people will be angling to catch the biggest fish possible, while others will be partaking in the GIGANTIC ploye (buckwheat pancake) that they cook at 6 p.m. Friday at Riverside Park in Fort Kent. I like them with cretons. Mmmmmm.