THINGS CAN ONLY GET BETTER
In 2005, Hotel Congress decided to throw a birthday party for Club Congress. It had been exactly 20 years since the hotel had begun hosting events and live music in the club room, and entertainment director David Slutes knew a good opportunity when he saw one.
The three-day event was ambitious, an all-local music event reuniting more than 20 bands from Tucson's past while saluting the town's best then-current flame-keepers. People came from all over the world to attend (who can forget the Germans parading around in their Rich Hopkins Fan Club jackets?), and the whole thing was something like a cross-generational high school reunion. It was one of the best weekends I've ever had where local music is concerned, and I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.
It was so much fun, in fact, that Club Congress decided to do it again the following Labor Day weekend. And the one after that. And the one after that, etc.
Some changes have happened since that first event eight years ago. The event, now called Hoco Fest, has widened its net to include national and international acts along with the local ones; there are related happenings like art fairs and BBQs; and just last year, the event was expanded from three days to four. But the important stuff has remained the same: The event still honors the past and present of Tucson music and, specifically, Club Congress' very important place in both, as well as its own history. Here's a look at the schedule of events for this weekend's mega-celebration, which will take place both at Club Congress itself and on the hotel's outdoor Plaza.
Day One: Thursday, Aug. 29; '80s Dance Party: Club Congress: Taking the if it ain't broke, don't fix it approach, the club's popular and long-running Optimist Club dance night begins at 9 p.m. Hotel Congress Plaza: Club Congress hosted the first '80s dance night in Tucson, with the fantastic DJ Spyder Rhodes on the turntables. He'll be spinning '80s hits starting at 7 p.m., with live performances by '80s hitmakers Men Without Hats (8 p.m.) and Howard Jones (9:30 p.m.) carrying the live portion of the night. $20 in advance, $25 day of show.
Day Two: Friday, Aug. 30; Latin Night: Co-hosted by Sergio Mendoza and Mexico City's Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound), who is making his fifth consecutive appearance at the fest, Latin Night will be a celebration of the diverse current crop of local acts who incorporate Latin rhythms into their sound. Club Congress: Grite-Leon (8:30 p.m.), Justin Valdez y los Guapos (9:30 p.m.), Camilo Lara (11 p.m.), Taraf de Tucson (11:30 p.m.). Hotel Congress Plaza: DJ Dirtyverbs (7 p.m.), Tesoro (8 p.m.), Camilo Lara (9 p.m.), Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta (10 p.m.), DJ Dirtyverbs (midnight). $12.
Day Three: Saturday, Aug. 31; Free Day: "Desert rock" has become something of an inside joke around these parts, but the lineup on the outdoor Plaza stage will reclaim the term as a source of pride. Meanwhile, the indoor Club stage will host the launch party for Jalph.net, a new locals-only music and nightlife blog, with a diverse lineup of local and national acts. The Plaza will also be the site of the second installment of Art Mart, featuring more than 30 artisans hawking their wares, as well as a barbecue. Club Congress: Dream Sick (8 p.m.), The Resonars (9 p.m.), Prom Body (10 p.m.; see this week's Rhythm & Views), Lace Curtains (11 p.m.; featuring Michael Coomer, formerly of Harlem), DJs Bob Felix and Sid the Kid (midnight). Hotel Congress Plaza: Chris Holiman and Gene Ruley of River Roses (5 p.m.), Walter Salas-Humera of The Silos (6 p.m.), Dead Hot Workshop (7 p.m.), the Sand Rubies (8 p.m.), The Pistoleros (9 p.m.), Andrew Collberg (10:15 p.m.), The Preservation (10:45 p.m.), Dry River Yacht Club (11:30 p.m.). Admission is free.
Day Four: Sunday, Sept. 1; The Finale: The concluding day of Hoco Fest salutes Tucson's '70s rowdy country rock heyday on the Plaza stage, while a trio of acts local, national and international plays inside the Club. If you missed out on Saturday's barbecue, no need to fret: There will be more smoked meats on Sunday. Club Congress: special guest TBA replacing David Garza, who had to drop off the bill (9 p.m.), Scout Niblett (10 p.m.), Chelsea Wolfe (11:30 p.m.; see our feature article in this issue). Hotel Congress Plaza: Billy Sedlmayr (6 p.m.), Ned Sutton and the Rabbits (7 p.m.), Chuck Wagon and the Whatevers, aka Chuck Wagon and the Wheels (8 p.m.), The Frank and Woody Show's first show in seven years (9 p.m.), Fur Family (11:45 p.m.). $15.
Damn, that's a lot of good stuff. For more information about Hoco Fest head to hotelcongress.com/club. Call 622-8848 with questions. See you there!
Hoco Fest may be the biggest game in town this week, but it's certainly not the only one. Here's a quick look at some of the other musical events happening around town.
Is there anything Kid Cudi can't do? Since the release of his attention-demanding 2008 mixtape A Kid Named Cudi, the Brooklyn resident and Cleveland native has worked with seemingly everyone in the music biz while simultaneously launching an acting career. His latest release — and the first on his own Wicked Awesome imprint after leaving Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music label — is April's Indicud, which features guest spots from an eclectic crew including RZA, Haim, Kendrick Lamar, Father John Misty, A$AP Rocky and hip-hop legend Michael Bolton. This week he brings his The Cud Life Tour, which includes Odd Future's Tyler, the Creator and Logic, to town.
The Cud Life Tour hits AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 5. Tickets are $35 to $75 and may be purchased at casinodelsol.com. For more information check out rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000.
We all know what soft rock is, but if ever there was an artist who could be classified as soft country, you'd have to give it to Don Williams. The Gentle Giant, a 2010 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame, racked up a string of country hits, mostly ballads, starting in the early 1970s, including "Tulsa Time," "I Believe in You," "If Hollywood Don't Need You," and "Till the Rivers All Run Dry," to name but a few.
Don Williams performs at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. Tickets range from $29 to $62 and are available at the venue's box office, online at foxtucsontheatre.org, or by calling 547-3040.
Don't let the name fool you. Despite their obsession with all things Japanese — they wear kabuki masks, their current tour is called The Round Eye Tour, and their website is full of Engrish exclamations like "Premium action heroes deliver most high rocket music!" — instrumental surf-rock band Daikaiju are from Alabama. Recommended for fans of fellow Alabamians Man or Astro-man?
Daikaiju perform with The Mission Creeps and Skinkfinger at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Tiny Town Gallery, 2606 N. Stone Ave. All ages are welcome and cover should be in the $5 range. For more info, look for the event's Facebook page.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Here's yet more music stuff happening in Tucson this week: Café Tacuba at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Sept. 5; Sara Robinson, Sirsy, Steff and the Articles at Plush on Saturday, Aug. 31; Pepper and RDGLDGRN at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 3; Into It. Over It. and Hostage Calm at Club Congress on Tuesday, Sept. 3; Chief Keef & the Glo Gang and IAMSU! at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 4; The Pork Torta, Acorn Bcorn, and Otherly Love at Sky Bar on Saturday, Aug. 31; Good Friends Great Enemies, fairweatherfriend, Clear Black, and Shrimp Chaperone at Plush next Thursday, Sept. 5; Burning Monk, Wookie Rage, Sex Prisoner, and The Funeral and the Twilight at Tucson Live Music Space on Friday, Aug. 30; Michael P. and the Gully Washers, Burning Palms, JMC and His Wooden Hearts at Plush on Friday, Aug. 30; The Amazing Anna Warr and the Giant Blue Band at Boondocks Lounge on Friday, Aug. 30; Naim Amor solo at Borderlands Brewing Company on Friday, Aug. 30; Texas Trash and the Trainwrecks, King Clone, and Feeding Frenzy at Club Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 4; the Electric Blankets, St Ranger, and Horse Black at Plush on Sunday, Sept. 1.
Plus, tribute band mania at the Diamond Center in Desert Diamond Casino all weekend: Bella Donna (a tribute to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac) on Friday, Aug. 30; Desperado (Eagles) on Saturday, Aug. 31; Fan Halen (Van Halen) on Sunday, Sept. 1; Strange Days (The Doors) on Monday, Sept. 2.