1. How is it American Folk Festival weekend already? Unfathomable! We’ll get to specifics about the Folk Fest a little later down in this post, but right now, let’s look at what’s happening in downtown Bangor. First off, Friday night, check out either the Junkyard Cats at Paddy Murphy’s, Paul Cataldo at Nocturnem Drafthaus, Stesha Cano and the Jerks at the Sea Dog, night one of two of dueling pianos at the Downunder Club at Seasons, or a 9 p.m. screening of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” at the Central Gallery. It’s also the first weekend that the new Orono Brewing Company tap room in downtown Bangor is open. Up in Old Town, check out Mike Rodrigue at the Boomhouse. On Saturday, take your pick of either the Rotating Taps at Paddy’s, the Ian Black Band at Nocturnem, rockers Balistex and Badhabit at Central Gallery, a fundraiser for ALS research featuring Overdrive, Riot Act and Dakota at the Penobscot Pourhouse, or, up in Old Town, blues band Between Dead Stations at the Boomhouse.
2. Friday night in Portland brings a record release party for the new album from alt-jazz trio Jaw Gems, “Heatweaver,” set for Portland House of Music. There’s also a triple bill of fascinating music from Tom Kovacevic, A.E. McInnis and Leif Sherman Curtis at Mayo Street Arts, and there’s night one of two nights of “Steamy Nights,” a burlesque show at St. Lawrence Arts. Saturday in Portland is a massive one, so let’s take it on at a time, please, since it’ll be very hard to choose which of these sounds up your alley. Punk rock marching band the What Cheer Brigade (pictured above) plays with (New England) Patriots and Mal Devisa at the Space Gallery, while there are four great punk bands including the Contrarians, Hotdog Haines, the Tarantula Brothers and the English Muffins at Bayside Bowl. If you prefer things on the jammier side, check out either Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Strange Machine at Port City Music Hall, the Lennon/Claypool Delirium at the State Theatre, or Skyfoot and Revive at Portland House of Music. Or, if none of those are your thing, check out funk ensemble A Murder of Crows at Empire, Celtic ensemble Solas at One Longfellow Square, or Celtic Thunder at Merrill Auditorium. On Sunday, go see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for free outside in Congress Square Park, beginning at sundown.
3. Another nice weekend on the Midcoast, starting Friday night, with New Shades of Blue at Rock City Coffee, or Americana band Mile Twelve at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts. On Friday, the Free Range Music Series presents songwriters Mr. and Mrs. Soucy and Travis Cyr at Three Tides, there’s Tuba Skinny at Unity College, there’s an Irish session at Rock City, and rockers Diamond in the Rough are at Myrtle Street Tavern. On Sunday, punk rock marching band the What Cheer Brigade plays the ten year anniversary party at Waterfall Arts — 3:30 p.m.! free! Fun! Dance!
4. So, about that American Folk Festival — it starts Friday, goes through Sunday, and is as fun and engaging as it has always been. 15 years! Can you believe it? Me, I’ll be checking out bands including all the Cuban and Latin groups, the Treme Brass Band, and the Tuvan throat singers, because that stuff is fascinating (see above video). Plus: chicken on a stick. I gots to have my chicken on a stick. What are your plans for the weekend? Perhaps I’ll see you there!
5. You know what? It’s the end of August. Next weekend is September. While we’ve certainly got a few more weeks of summer weather and swimming and all that stuff, you know it as well as I do: we’ve turned the corner, and we can already see and feel and smell a few autumnal things in the air. My advice? Do whatever you want to do on this, one of the last summer weekend of the year. It’s been a good one so far, hasn’t it?