Busy weekend of comedy, bluegrass at Franco Center, March 7-8

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LEWISTON — The Franco Center will present the third show in its stand-up comedy series on Friday, March 7, following it the next night with a concert by Lewiston native

. Both shows begin at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Headlining the Friday night comedy show is Jim Colliton, a Boston-based comedian whose comedy can be heard regularly on XM Satellie Radio’s comedy channel. His jokes are grounded in the life of the typical suburbanite, with hilarious observations about the brutal honesty of his kids, the volumes of pointless minutiae found on Facebook, and the travails of taking his young family on vacation.

Opening for Colliton will be David Decker, another native of Massacusetts, and Jesse Bickford of Portland. Decker describes his humor as “adult-themed” but in a way that is subtly suggestive instead of overt, letting his audience connect the last few dots that make a particular joke funny.

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Bickford, for his part, always knew that he wanted to be a comedian – but he thought it paid a lot more than turned out to be the case. Instead of owning a fleet of cars and living in a mansion, as he assumed he would be soon after choosing comedy as a vocation, he drives a Subaru Forester and still lives with his parents.

On Saturday night, Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection will perform the first full evening of exclusively bluegrass music ever held at the Franco Center. Brown is a Lewiston native who now lives in Durham, and she’s no newcomer to the venue. Her mother, whose maiden name is Parent, used to take young Erica along with her to church at the Franco Center in the waning years of the last century, when it was still known as St. Mary’s Church.

By the age of seven, Brown was competing in fiddle contests against kids twice her age, often winning. By the age of nine, she was touring New England, Canada and even Louisiana with the Maine French Fiddlers. Later, she became a member of the Bates College “Fighting Bobcats” Orchestra and in 2003 was named Female Entertainer of the Year by the Maine Country Music Association. In 2006, she was named a “Master Artist” by the Maine Arts Commission. Today, when she’s not playing concerts with any of her three bands, she brings music into elementary schools by holding workshops and performing for children.

Her talent for combining the precision of classical music with the spontaneity inherent in country and bluegrass music make for a fun-filled evening for music lovers of almost any stripe.

Tickets for the Comedy Series are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, while tickets for Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. They may be purchased at www.francocenter.org or by phone at 207-689-2000. Tickets may also be purchased at the box office between noon and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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