1. This week and next are peak summer, folks. The halfway point. Doesn’t seem possible, does it? Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Anyway, there’s lots to enjoy this fine weekend, starting on Friday night, as improv comedy troupe The Focus Group performs at 8 p.m. at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer; River City Cinema screens 80s classic “Say Anything,” at sundown in Pickering Square (iconic still from which pictured above), cellist and acoustic wildman Rushad Eggleston performs at 8 p.m. at 58 Main, the Will St. Peter Trio plays cool jazz at the Central Gallery, it’s Stripped with Sam acoustic night at Nocturnem Drafthaus, the Nikki Hunt Band is at the Sea Dog, and the Calypso Soldiers are at Paddy Murphy’s. On Saturday, there’s a triple bill of indie punk with Cool Tara, Street Sity Surf and Greasy Grass at the Central Gallery; Chris Ross and the North are at the Sea Dog, Allison Bankston and Hippie Soup play at Nocturnem, Tomorrow Morning is at Paddy’s, and up in Old Town, jam band Smoked Salmon is at the Boomhouse.
2. Portland on Friday offers up four really, really cool shows that I know I’d be happy to go to. Indie rock artists Frightened Rabbit and Julien Baker are at Port City Music Hall, heavy prog rock bands Intronaut, Entheos, Moon Tooth and Five of the Eyes are at Empire, Portland favorites Hiss and Chambers return with guests John Hughes Radio and Tiger Bomb at Portland House of Music, and there’s three sets of excellent folk and roots usic with the Ghosts of Johnson City, William Joseph Jiordan and Canned Bread at Blue. On Saturday, there’s CD release party for Tim Mercer, with Ben Kilcollins, the Vargas Twins and Love to Burn at Empire, there’s western swing group The Quebe Sisters with the Hello Strangers at Port City, there’s 80s cover band The Awesome at Portland House of Music, there’s songwriters Mary Fahl and Gregory Douglass at One Longfellow Square, and there’s another great bill at Blue with the David Newsom Organ Trio, Steve Grover and Kyle Hardy.
3. On the Midcoast, Friday night brings a show from Maine favorites Rustic Overtones at the Speakeasy in Rockland, while songwriter Alex Smith is at Rock City Coffee. On Saturday, enjoy two performances from Maine comedian at the Strand Theatre in Rockland, while Tanner Olin Smith and the Weirders are at Rock City Coffee, and 90s cover band Hello Newman is at the Myrtle Street Tavern. On the other side of the bay, in Bar Harbor on Friday and Saturday there’s a two night stand from Massachusetts indie rockers And The Kids (pictured above) at the Lompoc Cafe; on Friday night Country Boots plays on the Ellsworth Waterfront and on Saturday fiddler Andrea Beaton plays on the Village Green in Southwest Harbor.
4. On the festival front, there’s yet another diverse lineup of events this weekend, including the 70th annual Old Town-Orono Kiwanis Auction, which technically kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday (tonight, if you’re reading on Thursday), and continues on Friday and Saturday, again at 5 p.m., on Forest Ave in Orono, just off the Kelley Road 95 exit. I highly recommend going, because it’s a rare chance to find real treasures (if you’re into that sort of thing). My friend and colleague Abby Curtis wrote a great story about it last week! Also this weekend, in Portland the Maine Brewer’s Guild beer fest hosts its annual beer fest, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Thompson’s Point; it’s one of the best beer fests in the state. It’s also Bucksport Bay Festival weekend, featuring music, kid’s activities, boat tours, a pie contest, a parade, Civil War re-enactors at Fort Knox and fireworks on Saturday night.
5. It’s also a great weekend to check out live theater in Maine. In Brewer, Ten Bucks Theatre opens its annual outdoor performance, with Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors” (pictured above) at 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday at Indian Trial Park in Brewer; admission is $10. In Camden, Everyman Repertory Theatre presents another weekend of the stage adaptation of the movie “Casablanca” at the Camden Opera House. Out in western Maine, the Lakewood Theater in Madison offers up a performance of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.” In Stonington, Opera House Arts produces its second and final weekend of “An Iliad,” a contemporary theatrical adaptation of Homer’s saga, at the Stonington Opera House. And in beautiful Brooks in Waldo County, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be performed by the Marsh River Theatre.