Why is Olympics coverage so hypnotic? Why did I spend hours watching figure skating, snowboarding and curling last night, when I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a full pro sports game? I think it’s because something like downhill skiing is pretty easy to understand straight from the get-go: person throws self down mountain with fiberglass planks strapped to feet, fastest one wins. Figure skating: people with knives on their shoes dance and leap and spin across ice, prettiest and most difficult and flawless routine wins. Football? You need a 100-page manual to understand what’s going on if you weren’t culturally indoctrinated into it. That’s why I like the Olympics. No B.S. Well, other than reports of corruption in the International Olympics Committee. But I digress.
What’s good in your Maine hood this weekend? In the Bangor area, on Friday night take your pick from either the monthly Bangor Contradance at 8 p.m. at the UU Church on Park Street, comedy with Improv Acadia at 8 p.m. at 51 Main St., or music from Allison Bankston and Hippie Soup at Nocturnem Drafthaus or jam band Zesty at Black Bear Brewing Company in Orono. Saturday brings Winterfest, an all-day family-friendly celebration throughout downtown Bangor, with activities for kids, hot dogs and s’mores in the square, live music, storytelling and more throughout the day. In the evening, there’s a David Bowie-themed dance party at the Bangor Arts Exchange, there’s the O’Harrows at Paddy Murphy’s, Chris Ross and the North at the Downunder Club, the Tyler Healy Band at the Sea Dog, Travis Cyr and the Strings of Calamity at Nocturnem, more fun with Improv Acadia at 8 p.m. at 51 Main, and the Skyliners Big Band at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer, also at 8 p.m.
In Portland, Friday night is night one of two nights of jam legends moe. at the State Theatre. Elsewhere, there’s a Cranberries tribute night at Portland House of Music, or a Bruce Springsteen tribute night at Aura. For more local stuff, there’s the Library Band, Samuel James and D. Gross and the Kelly Laurence Quintet at Blue, songwriters Xander Nelson, Johnny Clay Shanks Band, and Joe Froebar and The Drunk Monkeys are at Empire, multi-instrumentalist Kate Beever (see the video above) and friends perform at One Longfellow Square, Viva and the Reinforcements at Bayside Bowl, and local metal from Graveborn, When The Dead Won’t Die, Attacking the Vision and Culling the Herd at Geno’s. On Saturday, the Red Eye Flight Crew brings the funk at Portland House of Music, the Tarbox Ramblers are at One Longfellow Square, Savoir Faire, the Sherrie Phair Trio and Raging Brass are at Blue, El Grande and Little Monk are at Bayside Bowl, local rockers Pigboat, Test Meat and Battery Steele are at Geno’s, and Fred Cracklin, Anti-Friend Hut and Duendecito play at the Apohadion Theater.
For theater options in the Bangor area, it’s the last weekend of Penobscot Theatre’s “Escanaba in da Moonlight,” all weekend at the Bangor Opera House. Along the coast, the New Surry Theatre presents the romantic comedy “Outside Mullingar,” 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Hill Town Hall.
This weekend is also the winter edition of the Great Maine Outdoor Weekend, with a dizzying array of fantastic outdoor winter activities set for places throughout the state — from state parks to land trusts. Ice fishing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, snowmobiling, nature walks and more. Visit www.greatmaineoutdoorweekend.org/events for a full list.
For TV premieres this weekend — if you’re not knee deep in Olympics coverage — there’s the season four premiere of “Mozart in the Jungle” going up on Friday on Amazing, while the brand new comedy “The Joel McHale Show” goes up on Netflix. For movies, the big premiere this weekend is, of course, the hotly anticipated “Black Panther,” a sure-to-be blockbuster opening wide all over the place. Not to be overlooked, however, is “Early Man,” the new feature from the brilliant Aardman Animations, also in theaters this weekend.