With all the hostility and frustration circulating out there right now, perhaps now is a great time to take a step back and enjoy the little things in life. A beautiful red leaf falling gracefully from a tree. A cup of hot apple cider. Trashcans at drive-through windows. Dogs in Halloween costumes. Not getting swine flu. The list goes on.
Take a moment and enjoy what life has to offer, whether it’s partaking in one of the great concerts happening in the next two months in Maine, or counting your blessings that you haven’t fallen victim to hordes of brain-hungry zombies. It’s good to be alive. At least, until the zombies come.
Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland (www.ticketmaster.com)
The civic center boasts two big shows after Thanksgiving. The first is reggae rockers 311, with special guests State Radio and Sidecar Radio, on Nov. 25. The second is, well, probably the biggest show Maine has seen in several years: Phish, who will perform on Nov. 29. Yes, Phish. The last time Phish was in Maine, the band took over an Air Force base and pumped millions of dollars into Aroostook County. Needless to say, I recommend getting your tickets as soon as humanly possible.
Port City Music Hall, Portland (www.portcitymusichall.com)
Man, does this place get some killer acts or what? First off, a double dose of the jammier side of electro-jazz is scheduled for this weekend and next, when EOTO, featuring former members of the String Cheese Incident, performs on Oct. 18, and Soulive is scheduled for Oct. 24. On Oct. 30, ’90s hangers-on Vertical Horizon will play, followed by songwriter Pete Yorn on Nov. 2. Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls and currently pursuing an interesting solo career, will play on Nov. 12, and on Nov. 15 jam-band extraordinaire Umphrey’s McGee will perform. After that, it’s Canadian electro-indie rockers Metric on Nov. 17, followed by one of the originators of the first wave of ska, the English Beat, on Nov. 23. Finally, jazz greats Medeski, Martin and Wood are scheduled to perform Dec. 5.
Asylum, Portland (www.portlandasylum.com)
The Asylum is the place to go for hip-hop. Golden age of hip-hop pioneers Digable Planets will perform tonight at this longtime Portland venue, while Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, jazz-jam heroes, will play on Oct. 28. The Rubblebucket Orchestra, the ultimate funk band from Boston, is scheduled for Oct. 30, followed by a double dose of totally sick hip-hop: Brother Ali on Nov. 11 and original Wu-Tang Clan warrior Ghostface Killah on Nov. 14.
One Longfellow Square, Portland (www.onelongfellowsquare.com)
An intimate folk music venue, One Longfellow Square is a great place to see singer-songwriters. On Nov. 7, check out Shawn Colvin. Soul Coughing frontman-turned-solo dynamo Mike Doughty will perform on Nov. 15. Erin McKeown, who records and performs regularly in Maine, will play on Dec. 10.
Space Gallery, Portland (www.space538.org)
The Space Gallery plays host to a variety of artists and musicians from Portland and beyond. There are a some notable shows coming up soon, including atmospheric indie rockers Califone on Oct. 21, and J. Tillman, frontman from the Fleet Foxes, doing a rare solo appearance on Nov. 13.
South Portland High School Auditorium, South Portland (auditorium.spsd.org.)
South Portland High School is incredibly lucky to have one of the nicest, most modern performance spaces in the state. They will play host to two of indie rock’s unique and gifted voices: Andrew Bird and St. Vincent, both intense and literate multi-instruments with current albums. Not a show to miss.
Portland Expo Center, Portland (www.porttix.com)
Here’s a fun show to liven up those dreary, late-fall days: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, one of the ultimate funk New Orleans brass bands, will play a show at the annual Maine Brewer’s Fest to commemorate the 25th anniversary of its first album, “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now.” Now that is a call to action if I ever heard one.