It's fitting that HoCo Fest, Hotel Congress' annual homage to all things music, stands as the first major entertainment event of the fall season.
The four-day fiesta, which starts on Friday and runs through Labor Day, will host more than 25 bands and artists playing everything from modern mambo to country swing.
Acts are traveling from as far away as Sweden and as close as down the street to perform.
There's even a record fair planned for vinyl connoisseurs and a music gear expo - a new feature this year - for musicians, techies and engineers.
"With the record guys and the gear guys, it is a real nerd fest with music," said David Slutes, Congress booker and the man behind HoCo for the last eight years. "At this point, we have something for everyone."
The eclectic nature of the festival makes it the perfect jumping-off point for a fall season teeming with live entertainment, starting with a string of high-profile artists playing throughout Tucson in September.
Among the month's offerings:
• Comedian Jerry Seinfeld comes to Centennial Hall on Sept. 21 for his first visit to the Old Pueblo since 2010. He's followed by blues maven Bonnie Raitt, who will open UApresents' 2012-13 season at the venue on Sept. 26.
• Mary Chapin Carpenter will bring her classic hits "I Feel Lucky" and "Down at the Twist and Shout," as well as tracks from her latest release, "Ashes and Roses," to the Fox Tucson Theatre Sept. 30.
• The Rialto has comedian Adam Carolla on Sept. 14 and reggae artist Sean Paul on Sept. 26. The venue, in conjunction with Stateside Presents, is bringing popular rock outfit Wilco to the Tucson Music Hall on Sept. 19.
The heavy hitters of the month are Club Congress and Casino del Sol's AVA, both of which have full calendars for September.
While the AVA is bringing in artists that will fill its 5,000 seats such as Alejandro Fernandez, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Jeff Dunham, Club Congress has a steady flow of smaller artists and happenings, including Two Gallants (Sept. 4); DâM FunK (Sept. 12); a Nintendo party with the Minibosses (Sept. 15); a Born & Brewed Tucson beer challenge (Sept. 21); and DJ Christopher Lawrence (also on Sept. 21).
Slutes said booking acts in September was once considered taboo in Tucson due primarily to the heat and perceived lack of an audience, but October and November have been so packed with shows in recent years, he thought, "What's the difference?
"The kids are all back by then," he said. "The weather is virtually the same in the last couple weekends of September as it is in October."
The new outlook proved fruitful. Many of the club's September shows have been well-attended, including HoCo, which brings in about 4,000 people annually.
"It is one of the biggest weekends that we have," Slutes said. "We put this big flag in the sand and said, 'We are off and running after this.' "
If you go
• What: HoCo Fest 2012 spans four nights of music. Record fair and music gear expo on Saturday.
• When: Friday through Monday.
• Where: Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
• Tickets: $15 for performances, with doors opening at 7 p.m. each day, Saturday record fair, fuzz workshop and screening are free. Stages are 21 and over unless otherwise noted.
• More info: 622-8848.
Outdoor (all ages)
7:45 p.m. - The Modeens.
8:45 p.m. - David Garza
9:45 p.m. - Strand of Oaks.
10:45 p.m. - The Tallest Man on Earth.
8 p.m. - Wolf Larsen.
9 p.m. - Lonna Kelley.
10 p.m. - Wild Nothing
11:30 p.m. - Otherly Love.
12:30 a.m. - Young Hunter.
9 a.m.-3 p.m. - Record fair and music gear expo.
2 p.m. - Fuzz box clinic.
3 p.m. - Screening of "Fuzz: The Sound that Revolutionized the World." The documentary follows the history of the sound distorting device used by scores of rock guitarists.
7:30 p.m. - Verbobala.
8:30 p.m. - David Garza.
9:30 p.m. - DePedro.
10:30 p.m. - Camilo Lara.
11:15 p.m. - Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta.
8 p.m. - The Cordials.
9 p.m. - Sweet Ghost.
10 p.m. - Dry River Yacht Club.
11 p.m. - The Cowgirls.
12:30 a.m. - Camilo and Dan After Party.
8:15 p.m. - Bob Meighan and the Dreadnutts.
9:45 p.m. - The Dusty Chaps.
7:30 p.m. - Chuck Wagon and the Wheelchairs.
9 p.m. - Ned Sutton.
7 p.m. - Turquoise Jeep.
WHO YOU'LL HEAR
The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson, the Swedish singer who performs under the name The Tallest Man on Earth, has been praised for his Bob Dylan-style delivery and energetic live performances.
Matsson is in town promoting his third studio album, "There's No Leaving Now."
Download this: "The Wild Hunt," "The Dreamer"
Jairo Zavala, aka DePedro is a longtime associate of Calexico and a popular Spanish singer-songwriter with two albums out on National Geographic Music.
His songs can be political, touching on topics of globalization and immigration, all delivered with acoustic guitar and entirely in Spanish.
Download this: "Te Sigo Soñando," "Como El Viento"
Chuck Wagon and the Wheelchairs
Another country swing favorite from Tucson's past, Chuck Wagon and the Wheels were a regular fixture at the Stumble Inn (now The Rock) for many years.
Led by Chuck Maultsby, the group primarily works more rural areas south and west of Tucson, including Tubac, Arivaca and Three Points.
Download this: "Disco Sucks," "My Girl Passed Out in Her Food"
The hip-hop collective closes out the festival with an oddball, sexually charged repertoire that has earned the rappers a huge YouTube following.
The group brings its stage show to HoCo before heading to a string of shows in Texas.
Download this: "Lemme Smang It," "Did I Mention I Like to Dance?"
Sept. 4 - Two Gallants.
Sept. 5 - MEOWmeow presents: Freddie Mercury Birthday Party.
Sept. 7 - It's a Beautiful Day.
Sept. 7 - Warsaw Poland Bros.
Sept. 8 - Holy Rolling Empire.
Sept. 12 - DâM FunK.
Sept. 13 - Hume.
Sept. 14 - B-Side Players.
Sept. 15 - Nintendo Party with the Minibosses.
Sept. 16 - Moonface.
Sept. 17 - MyTown Music Showcase.
Sept. 18 - Eternal Summers.
Sept. 21 - Christopher Lawrence.
Sept. 28 - The Mission Creeps CD release party.
MORE SEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTS
Sept. 19 - Wilco, Tucson Music Hall.
Wilco brings "The Whole Love" to Tucson, its eighth studio release and first album since the band's last visit in 2009.
Sept. 21 - Jerry Seinfeld, Centennial Hall. Seinfeld comes to Centennial Hall on the heels of his July Web series debut. "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" features Seinfeld picking up other comedians and taking them to lunch.
Sept. 26 - Bonnie Raitt, Centennial Hall. Raitt opens the 2012-13 UApresents season with songs from her latest release, "Slipstream." The album is her first studio effort since her 2005 album, "Souls Alike."
Sept. 27 - The Lumineers, Rialto Theatre. The Lumineers, Denver's answer to the acoustic fare of the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, come to Tucson with tracks from their debut, self-titled album, released in April on Dualtone.
Sept. 30 - KFMA Fall Ball, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Offspring headlines KFMA's annual fall rock festival, with a list of openers that includes Everlast, Kottonmouth Kings, Hollywood Undead and Corey Taylor from Slipknot.