The big news this week, of course, is Hotel Congress' annual HoCo Festival. Now in its fourth year, the event began in 2005 as an all-local celebration of Club Congress' 20th anniversary and Tucson music in general over the same 20 years. People flew in from all over the Big Blue Marble; more than 20 local bands reunited; fun was had by all.

So much fun, in fact, that the inescapable sentence, "We should do this every year," was overheard ad nauseum that weekend. Congress decided it shall be so.

The 2006 version was billed as the club's "21st Birthday Party: Congress Comes of Age" and added national touring bands to the fray; unable to find a cute theme for last year's version, the hotel renamed the event the HoCo Festival, added a record fair and raised awareness of Tucson Artists and Musicians Health Alliance, which just last month wrote its first check to a musician in need.

Which brings us to this year's HoCo Festival, which runs Friday, Aug. 29, Saturday, Aug. 30, and Sunday, Aug. 31--and has been further expanded to include even more attractions and events.

The Record Fair is back and will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to a slew of independent dealers, participating retailers include Bookmans, Zia, Toxic Ranch, KXCI, Twist and Shout, PDQ, Stereo Hospital, Stinkweeds and Tumblin' Dice. Expect to see tons of vinyl, vintage stereo equipment, posters and other music-related goodies there for the pickin'. Guest DJs will also be spinning tunes for the duration.

Once that's over, head to the Eco Fair, which runs from 3 to 8 p.m. on the same day and will feature information booths from a slew of green organizations; if this year's event has a theme, it's a green one: As many events as possible will be run by solar power. Heck, even the food is green. The outdoor barbecues begin at 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, and all the food is local, organic or free range, and will be served on biodegradable dinnerware.

On Sunday at 9 p.m., Buffalo Exchange will present a Recycled Fashion Show; at 7 p.m. on Friday, Clif Taylor's documentary, Fuzz, about the subculture of guitar-effects pedals, will be screened locally for only the second time, at Preen, 272 E. Congress St.; an organic liquor tasting goes down on Sunday; and there will be VIP bicycle parking all weekend.

And then there's the music. Lots and lots of music. Here's a rundown of the schedule as of our press deadline:

Friday: Alt-Country Showcase Stage (outdoors): The Dusty Buskers (Tucson, 7:30 p.m.); The Fell City Shouts (Tucson, 8:30 p.m.); The Devil Makes Three (Portland, Ore., 9:30 p.m.); Dusty Rhodes and the River Band (Los Angeles, 10:45 p.m.); The Mother Truckers (Austin, midnight).

Friday: Fuzz Stage (indoors): The Shudders (Oakland, Calif., 8:15 p.m.); Winelord (Tucson, 9:15 p.m.); Lemon Drop Gang (Tucson, 10:15 p.m.); Blackwood and Co. (Tucson, 11:15 p.m.); Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout (Tucson, 12:30 a.m.).

Saturday: Al Perry's Surf Stage (outdoors): Al Perry (Tucson, 5:30 p.m.); rock 'n' roll wedding (6 p.m., not a band, but but an actual wedding: Local music veteran Robin Johnson is getting hitched to Anastasia Palmer--congrats, kids!); Wolfman and the Nards (Tucson, 6:30 p.m.); Big Galoot (Tucson, 7:15 p.m.); Shrimp Chaperone (Tucson, 8 p.m.); Al Perry (Tucson, 8:30 p.m.); Ned Sutton and the Rabbits (Tucson, 9 p.m.); Howe Gelb (Tucson, 10 p.m.); Power Solo (Denmark, 11 p.m.); Meat Puppets (Phoenix, midnight).

Saturday: Dance Stage (indoors): No times were provided, but live music will run until midnight, followed by the Bang! Bang! Dance-night DJs: Milk:Blood (Tucson); Gentlemen Afterdark (Tucson); ... music video? (Tucson); 21 Pump Street (Tucson).

Sunday: Mudhouse Records Stage (outdoors): Golden Boots (Tucson, 6 p.m.); Combo Westside (Tucson, 7 p.m.); The Swim (Tucson, 8 p.m.); Buffalo Exchange Recycled Fashion Show (9 p.m., not a band, but an actual fashion show); Centro-Matic (Denton, Texas, 9:45 p.m.); Holy Rolling Empire (Tucson, 11:15 p.m.); Tom Walbank (Tucson, midnight).

Sunday: Acoustic Stage (indoors): Jeremy Serwer (Tucson, 7:30 p.m.); Mirror Image (Tucson, 8 p.m.); Brian Field (Tucson, 8:30 p.m.); Naim Amor (Tucson, 9:30 p.m.); Amy Rude (Tucson, 10 p.m.); Andrew Collberg (Tucson, 10:30 p.m.).

Sunday: Caliente Stage (indoors): Young Mothers (Tucson, 7:30 p.m.); The Otterssey (Tucson, 8 p.m.); West (Tucson, 8:45 p.m.); The Runaway Five (Tucson, 9:30 p.m.); RCougar (Tucson, 10:15 p.m.); Feel Good Revolution (Tucson 11 p.m.); Flagrante Delicto (Tucson, 11:45 p.m.); The Deludes (Tucson, 12:45 a.m.).

Dang! I got winded just typing that shit, so imagine how you're gonna feel come Labor Day. And to make things even better, admission is only $5 per day--or you can hit up Bookmans, Buffalo Exchange, Zia or Hotel Congress in advance for free passes. That's right: free passes! For more information, direct your browser to the Hotel Congress Web site, and if you still have questions, poke these numbers on your telephone: 622-8848.


If last week's benefit for the Greyhound Adoption League featuring Neko Case and Crooked Fingers didn't make you love your animal friends even more than you did already, here's another event that just might.

Mel Mason, the host of KXCI FM 91.3's The Road Show--which each Tuesday night features music from bands and musicians playing upcoming shows in Tucson--is also a devout animal lover and activist. She's put together the third annual No More Homeless Animals Day, which will feature a pretty sweet lineup of local acts playing to raise awareness of a variety of causes directed toward making life better for our furry friends. The event is being sponsored by KXCI, the HOPE Animal Shelter, Spay and Neuter Solutions, the Center for Animal Rescue and Adoption, and Citizens for a No-Kill Tucson, and will include performances from Courtney Robbins (9 p.m.), Serpe (8 p.m.), Jeremy Michael Cashman (7 p.m.) and the Hounds (6 p.m.). A press release from Ms. Mason states, "There will be opportunities to learn about volunteering with rescue groups, animal foster/adoption programs, spaying/neutering, and other steps you can take to save lives."

This all-ages, family- and pet-friendly shindig goes down from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, at the Udall Park Amphitheatre, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road. Food will be available for purchase from the Lovin' Spoonfuls vegetarian hotdog cart, but beyond that, the whole thing is free. For more info, check out our City Week section, and point that browser to the concert Web site.


Vinylmania has officially hit Tucson.

A couple of weeks ago, Tom Walbank issued the fantastic Sugarmama, a vinyl-only LP; this weekend's HoCo Festival includes a record fest; and one of Soundbites' favorite current local punk bands is holding a pair of record-release parties, one for the all-ages set, and one for those old enough to imbibe.

The American Black Lung will perform next Thursday, Sept. 4, at The Living Room, 413 E. Fifth St., to celebrate the release of Good Vibrations, a three-song, 7-inch-vinyl-only EP. Female Snake and Juarez will open around 7 p.m.; admission is $5, and all ages are welcome.

The next night, Friday, Sept. 5, the American Black Lung and Juarez will open for the Holy Rolling Empire at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. This one gets started at 9:30 p.m., and admission is $5. Following these shows, the American Black Lung will head out on a two-week tour of the Western states, so hit at least one of them, and pick up a record--they'll no doubt need the gas money.

For further details about the Living Room show, head to the venue's Web site, and you can call 798-1298 for info about the Plush show.


Fresh off a tour themselves, Mostly Bears will headline a fine triple-bill at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Aug. 30, that also includes performances from Portland, Ore.'s System and Station and Tucson's Garboski, who feature members of past local bands Maintenance and Lloyd Dobbler. And while we're talking about 'em, congrats to Mostly Bears, who recently won the third round of the 2008 Zig Zag Live competition, which netted them a prize package worth $30,000 and advances them to the finals, where they'll compete against eight other bands for the grand prize: a slot at the CMJ Music Marathon this fall in New York City. Good luck, boys!

Now, more stuff you might want to know about: Testament, Sacred Reich and LeVeL13 at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday, Aug. 29; Meg and Dia, Jonezetta, Danger Radio and Dropping Daylight at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Friday, Aug. 29; Misfits and Last Act of Defiance at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Monday, Sept. 1; and a reunion show featuring Under Go and Ladies and Gentlemen at The Living Room, 413 E. Fifth St., on Saturday, Aug. 30.

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