1. I’m sorry I didn’t post last week! I was on vacation in lovely Atlantic Canada. Mainers need to visit the Maritimes more. We really do. Anyway, I”m back just in time to wave a tearful goodbye to August and to welcome in American Folk Festival weekend, our beloved yearly summer-capping event here in Bangor. Friday night, take your pick in downtown Bangor from either Fools Rule at Paddy Murphy’s, Celtic band the Napper Tandies (pictured) at Nocturnem Drafthaus, the Central Gallery’s open mic night, or the first night of two nights of Dueling Pianos at the Downunder Lounge at Seasons, featuring pianists Daniel Korzelius, Ronnie Smith and Dave Mackson; tickets are $10-$20 and doors are at 7. Out in Winterport, there’s Riff Johnson and the Quick Fix at 4Points BBQ & Blues. On Saturday, there’s more Folk Fest fun to be had — and there’s also the first-ever Maine Musicians Showcase, an entirely separate event set for 2 to 9 p.m. in Pickering Square, featuring ten bands from Bangor and beyond. Check out sounds from the likes of Between Dead Stations, Shannon Denbow, the Jazz Collective, Devon Dalon, the Rotating Taps, Meghan Clark, Stesha Cano and the Jerks, Mike Billings and the Allison Ames Band, as well as poet Allan Lloyd Trott and the Thomas School of Dance. Later that night, enjoy either Trisha Mason at Paddy’s, the Indigo jazz ensemble at Nocturnem, and up in Old Town, there’s jam rockers Merther at the Boomhouse. Sunday, there’s the final day of Folk Fest goodness.
2. As we shuffle ever closer to autumn, let’s take a minute to look back on what an incredible summer it’s been so far. Personally, I don’t think summer’s over until mid-September, but whatever. Friday night in Portland, take your pick of either John Hiatt and the Combo and the Taj Mahal Trio at the State Theatre, local rock with Five of the Eyes and Zach Jones (pictured) at Empire, a free show in Congress Square Park featuring Cuddle Magic, and some epic heaviness with Covered in Bees, Pigboat and Rigor Samsa at Portland HOME. On Saturday, local acts Elison Jackson, Tall Horse and Clara Junken are set for Empire, Russell Moore and Third Time Out at One Longfellow Square, there’s some rock and folk with Snaex and Micah Blue Smaldone at Mayo Street Arts, there’s the Box Tiger, Off and On and Hey Anna at Bayside Bowl, there’s punk rock with Battery Steele, Ray’s Occult, the Spillers and Stokin’ the Neighbors at Geno’s, and Phish cover band Pardon Me Doug is set for Portland HOME.
3. On the Downeast side of Maine, Friday night brings some great music, including a free concert from Trisha Mason on the Ellsworth Riverfront, the multi-talented Jeff Beam (pictured) at the Lompoc Cafe in Bar Harbor, and at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor on Saturday, there’s the Bar Harbor Jazz Festival, featuring the Laszlo Gardony Trio and the Piero Brovarone Trio. Over on the Penobscot Bay side of Maine, Friday night brings the enchanting songwriter Alice Limoges at Rock City Coffee in Rockland and there’s reggae with Ras Ian and Da Vibes at the Speakeasy, also in Rockland. Saturday offers up the annual Feedback Music Festival, set for Saturday evening at the American Legion Hall in Belfast and featuring noisy rock bands including Caethua, Quantum, the Ace Tones, Darren Deicide, VManuscripts, Taboo, White Gourd and Russian Tslarg. Later that night, Cactus Karma, a soul funk band, will play at Three Tides in Belfast, the Ale House String Band is set for Rock City Coffee, and the Juke Rockets Blues Band play at the Speakeasy.
4. A bit more on the American Folk Festival this year. What’s good to hear? Well, I’m personally super excited to see both Tal National, an amazing West African rock/Afrobeat band from Niger, and rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef on the Dance Stage Friday night. I also think that band from Newfoundland, the Dardanelles, is pretty interesting, and I always enjoy the Latin bands, so Mitch Frohman and the Bronx Horns should be a great time as well. And Greek food from the St. George Greek Orthodox Church. And chicken on a stick. Always chicken on a stick.
5. Not into music? Try the Last Friday Art Walk in Belfast on Friday night. Not into being outdoors? Playwright Brent Hutchins reprises his Maine-based play “Closer to Home” this weekend at the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth. Not into any of that? Enjoy this last weekend of August at home or at camp, or wherever you want. Go see “Straight Outta Compton.” Rewatch all of “Game of Thrones.” Play wiffle ball with you five year old niece or nephew. It’s all good.