1. As I have likely made you well aware, I’m very excited to see “The Force Awakens” this weekend. I do understand, however, that not EVERYONE is as excited as I am. And that’s fine. I get it. Maybe you want to go do something else? Here’s some suggestions. First off, Friday night brings lots of musical options, including a benefit concert and huge silent auction for local musician Hannah Somers-Jones, who was badly injured in a car crash last month and has extensive medical bills; a who’s who of local musicians will perform starting at 6 p.m. at the Union Street Brick Church. Later that night, there’s also a triple bill of local rock featuring The Roman Counterpart, Ratleg and Zach Thompson at the Central Gallery, there’s the Pitch Black Ribbons at Nocturnem Drafthaus, Stesha Cano and the Jerks at Paddy Murphy’s, and up in Orono, Travis Cowing hosts a night of local comedy at the Bear Brew Pub, benefiting Toys for Tots. On Saturday, enjoy either Born Under a Bad Sign, Trenchfoot and Nightlife at the Central Gallery, the Bangtown Swingers at Nocturnem, Trisha Mason at Paddy’s, rockers Circus at Ipanema, and up in Old Town, there’s the Blood Orange Martinis at the Boomhouse.
2. Friday night offers a huge bill of local music at Portland House of Music, including bands and artists like Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, Eldemur Krimm, Eyenine, Worried Well, Sea Level (pictured at left) and The Ghosts of Johnson City. Over at the Space Gallery, local band Lovers of Fiction unveil their new album, with guests Perfect Hair and Leveret, and at One Longfellow Square, there’s the Portland Jazz Orchestra. Eric Hutchinson and Gareth Reynolds are at Port City Music Hall, DJ KTF’s Shakedown Soul and Funk Party is at Empire, Zach Jones continues his December residency at Sonny’s, rockers Trapt are at the Asylum, and venerable Maine rockers Loki play with Devil’s Night Out and Stillborn Condition at Geno’s. Moving onto Saturday, auto-didact psych-rocker Jeff Beam puts out his new album with guests Henry Jamison and Nat Baldwin, at One Longfellow Square. It’s also the annual Spose’s PDank Christmas at Port City Music Hall, featuring a huge array of local musicians hip hop and not. There’s Shut Down Brown at Empire, there’s the Bob Charest Band at Portland HOME, and there’s Nordic vocal ensemble Stambandet at Mayo Street Arts.
3. On the Midcoast, your cozy pre-holiday weekend options include a nice Friday night in Rockland that offers songwriter Peter Carriveau at Rock City Coffee, and rockers Just Teachers at Trackside Station. On Saturday, enchanting songbird Alice Limoges is at Rock City Coffee, and the highly danceable Primo Cubano takes the stage at the Speakeasy. Across the bay, on Sunday Trisha Mason, a staple of the eastern Maine music scene, plays a record release party for her new album “Red Sky” at 4 p.m. at 430 Bayside in Ellsworth.
4. Christmas stuff happening this weekend includes, of course, the Robinson Ballet and Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s performances of “The Nutcracker,” pictured at left, set for 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. At the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth, there’s screenings of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” all weekend, and in Portland, the Portland Symphony Orchestra offers its yearly “Magic of Christmas” holiday concerts, with shows at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday at Merrill Auditorium.
5. And finally, yes, there’s of course the aforementioned premiere weekend of the biggest movie of the decade: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Aside from the four-day premiere mini-convention extravaganza at the Bangor Mall Cinemas — photo by party organizer Jodi Renshaw at left — there’s also big parties at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor, the Colonial Theatre in Belfast, and cinemas throughout the Portland region. Remember, non-fans: no spoilers, and no spoiling our fun. At least until after the weekend. Then you may resume.