One my favorite parts of Halloween season is that it’s prime time for local acts to pay homage to the bands they love. This year, I’m throwing three shows into your treat bags, and they’re on three different nights over two weekends, so you can go for the trifecta. Costumes to all three shows are optional, but you know you want to figure out something clever and fun to dazzle the masses.

The first show is a tribute to someone I still can’t believe is gone, the second one is for someone who has been gone a long time and is still dearly missed, and the third show is a feminist take on a legendary punk band that’s still kicking with ideal-for-the-season songs like “Halloween,” “Curse of the Mummy’s Hand,” “Skulls” and “Scream.”

Dean Ford performing as Prince. Photo by Mia DeGiovanni

It’s been more than 30,000 hours and 15 days since they took Prince away and still, nothing compares to him. Dean Ford knows this all too well and has created an incredible tribute to his favorite artist, dating back to when His Royal Badness was still living. This year marks the seventh annual Purple Brainz show, and having attended a few of them through the years, I can tell you that it’s a phenomenal night of music. Ford and his band have toured with the show nationally for the past five years or so. “The show has grown and matured into an experience built out of obsession and love, to excite every kind of Prince fan,” he said. “Be prepared for all the biggest hits, B-sides, deep album tracks, costume changes and most of all a party.” Ford, as Prince, will be on lead vocals, piano and guitar. The rest of the band is Owen Conforte on guitar and vocals, Joe Harding on bass and vocals, Mohamed Araki on keyboards, Fred Copeman on keyboards and Patrick Morrison on drums. Ford said to also expect a few special guests.

Dean Ford & The Beautiful Ones: Purple Brainz 7
9 p.m. Saturday. Aura, 121 Center St., Portland, $18 in advance, $20 day of show, 18-plus.

The Master Stroke Queen Experience. Photo by Peter Lekousi

Freddie Mercury is Sean Slaughter’s favorite musician, and this year, his seven-piece band’s annual tribute to the lead singer of Queen falls on his favorite holiday. One of the biggest voices in music history, Mercury died in the fall of 1991, but you still can’t listen to a classic rock station for too long without hearing any number of Queen hits, and if you haven’t sung along to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I’m not sure we can be friends. The Masterstroke Queen Experience is another way to hear a ton of the band’s big songs, like “Somebody to Love,” “We Are the Champions” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” Slaughter said they’ll throw in a few deep cuts to satisfy hardcore fans, and there also will be a costume contest with cash prizes and a photo booth. I’ve just got one question about this Halloween night show: Will YOU do the fandango?

The Masterstroke Queen Experience
8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, $12 in advance, $15 day of show, $30 preferred seating, 18-plus.

Missfits drummer Cyndi Lou. Photo by Sarah Violette

The last show is a tribute to a band that has cult status in the world of punk music but isn’t a household name. Misfits is a punk band out of New Jersey that formed in the late ’70s, broke up in the ’80s, got back together in the ’90s and just played a huge show at Madison Square Garden with Rancid and The Damned. Along the way, there’s been seven albums and a bunch of lineup changes, but the two main players are Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only. In this show, however, ladies take center stage. RenĂ©e Coolbrith will be singing lead vocals and playing guitar during the second annual Missfits: An All Ghouls Misfits Tribute at Port City Music Hall on the Saturday after Halloween. Coolbrith was riding in the car with her boyfriend (and Dearing bandmate) Michael Koharion, listening to Misfits while out on a gin run when she got the idea to form the all-female tribute band. Along with Coolbrith, Missfits is Cyndi Lou on drums, Dilly Dilly on bass and Salli Wason on lead guitar. Coolbrith explained that punk is typically a very masculine genre, and the experience of playing the Misfits songs with strong women has been therapeutic for everyone involved. Merchandise sales from the show will benefit Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine (SARSSM) and Point of Pride, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, that supports trans people around the world through gender-confirming programs. All-male local punk band Borderlines will open the show, performing in lingerie as the Bra Moans, a tribute to The Ramones. You can expect this night of music to be very loud and a whole mess of fun.

Missfits: An All Ghouls Misfits Tribute
9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, $8 in advance, $10 day of show, all ages.

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