Hotel Congress’ annual end-of-summer, multiday street party Hoco Fest takes on a bigger-than-life feel this weekend.
Hoco Fest is taking over downtown on Friday, Aug. 30, through Sunday, Sept. 1, to celebrate Hotel Congress’ 100th birthday.
Such a milestone anniversary deserves a milestone celebration — say 105 bands performing on 15 stages over three days.
That’s a big party.
“Toward the end of 2018, we joked that we’re going to book 100 Hoco acts for Hotel Congress’ 100-year anniversary in 2019, thinking there was no way we would actually do it,” said Hoco Fest Director Matt Baquet. “I just counted our most up-to-date poster and it looks like we hit the mark and some with over 100 acts in downtown Tucson this Labor Day weekend, spread over mostly three days.”
The festival opens with a bonus kickoff party Thursday, Aug. 29, featuring the 22-year-old rising Mexican-American pop/R&B singer Omar Apollo with Ojalá Systems, a collective of young Tucson musicians, poets and visual artists. The ensemble’s goal is to “bring hip-hop and Latinx art and culture to the wider creative world” through performances, lectures and other efforts, according to Hotel Congress officials.
Thursday’s kickoff event begins at 8 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $20 in advance through hotelcongress.com or $25 day of show.
In addition to concerts being held at Hotel Congress, 191 Toole, Hotel McCoy, the Rialto Theatre and other downtown venues, Hoco Fest includes panel discussions on DJ’ing, border issues, the health benefits of CBD and efforts in Arizona to legalize marijuana.
Hoco Fest itself is marking something of a milestone. This year’s event is its 15th.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at email@example.com or 573-4642. On Twitter @Starburch.
Events will be held at the following Tucson venues:
• Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
• Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.
• 191 Toole, 191 N. Toole Ave.
• Che’s Lounge, 350 N. Fourth Ave.
• Owl’s Club, 236 S. Scott Ave.
• Wooden Tooth Records, 415 N. Fourth Ave.
• Hotel McCoy, 720 W. Silverlake Road
• The Boxyard, 238 N. Fourth Ave.
• R Bar, 350 E. Congress St.
• Cobra Arcade Bar, 63 E. Congress St.
• EXO, 403 N. Sixth Ave.
• Maynard’s Market and Kitchen, 400 N. Toole Ave.
• Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.
• Let’s Sweat YOGAnnex, 439 N. Sixth Ave.
• The Grocery by Object Limited, 220 N. Meyer Ave.
If you go
What: Hoco Fest 2019
When: Thursday, Aug. 29 (kickoff) through Sunday, Sept. 1; times vary by day.
Where: Several venues downtown including Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
Tickets: $40 per day for adults, $30 for teens 16 and older through hocofest.com
Events are Saturday, Aug. 31 and admission is free and open to all ages unless noted.
• Hoco Flea Market: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Maynard's Market and Kitchen, 400 N. Toole Ave.
• DJ workshop: Presented by Hoco and radio station KXCI, featuring KXCI DJ Shelby Athouguia (Electric Feel), 1 to 2 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
• Southwest Shogun BBoy Jam: All-ages event that includes three-on-three breaking battles, freestyle battles and live music, from 2 to 9 p.m. at Thunder Canyon, 220 E. Broadway.
• "Legalization 2020 Panel": Explore the move to legalize marijuana in Arizona.1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. 21-and-older only.
• "CBD 101": A panel discussion exploring the health benefits of CBD. 3 to 4 p.m. at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. 21 and older.
• "A New Border Vision": A look at the political realities in the borderlands. 4 to 6 p.m. at Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave. Reservations recommended through hocofest.com/events
By the numbers
Here's what you can expect this weekend by the numbers:
• 105 musical acts: 55 from throughout the state including 35 from Tucson and 50 coming from outside the state.
• 10 countries — Australia, Berlin, Mexico City, Portugal, Montreal, Vancouver, Sweden, Brazil, Chile and Spain — represented
• 30 concerts and parties
• 13 cultural and wellness events
• 15 years of Hoco Fest
Participating restaurants will offer special Hoco Fest promotions with your Hoco Fest wristband or ticket:
• The Cup Cafe / Plaza Eats at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.: Free tasting of Mezcal Unión to first 100 guests through the door Friday through Sunday courtesy Agave Heritage Festival and Breakthru Beverage.
• Maynard's Market, 400 N. Toole Ave.: Happy hour drinks all day, everyday in the Market only.
• El Charro Cafe (311 N. Court Ave.), Charro Del Rey (178 E. Broadway) and Charro Steak (188 E. Broadway): 15 percent off with a minimum $20 purchase.
• Tumerico, 2526 E. Sixth St.: Free beverage with entree purchase.
• Welcome Diner, 902 E. Broadway: 10 percent off purchase.
• Tallboys, 600 N. Fourth Ave.: 10 percent off purchase.
• EXO Coffee, 403 N. Sixth Ave.: 10 percent off.
• Shifty's Pizza, 220 E. Broadway: $1 off.
• Ricuras de Venezuela, 890 W. Grant Road: 10 percent off.
The folks at Hoco Fest have outdone themselves with this year's day-long flea market on Saturday, Aug. 31.
Forty vendors from Tucson and around the state selling everything from vintage clothing, plants, art, herbal products, jewelry and food and beverages will set up on the patio of Maynard's Market and Kitchen, 400 N. Toole Ave., from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Admission is free and it's obviously open to all ages and Xavier "DJ Buttafly" Lopez will spin the hits throughout the day.
The vendors: Bloom Maven, Bookman's Entertainment Exchange, Casa Verde Plant Shop, CREAM Design and Print, vintage clothes from Dani Blew, Earth's Healing, Galeria Mitotera, Gina Beca Desert Fauna Art, Heart Worn Vintage, Heliotrope, visual art from Josh Flood, Mortal Skateshop, Mystic Lamb from Phoenix, vintage and games from Parker Arriaga, PuebloNouveau, Segunda Mano Vintage, Silk Floss Vintage, Sky Island Spice Co., Smoking Room from Oakland, California, Sonoran Rosie Herbal Products, South Sixth Bodega, Subspace, SW Energie Studio, Trevor Mock the Sonoran Witch Boy, Two Tigers Jewel Design, Wild Tonic out of Sedona and Wooden Tooth Records.
• Kickoff 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 with Omar Apollo and Ojalá Systems. Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.; $20 in advance, $25 day of show.
• Tomasa del Real, Ms Nina and San Cha at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at Hotel Congress. Also on the lineup: Yanga, Pelada, Nefftys, Los Esplifs, Mexican Jihad, Sonido Tambo, kidbusiness, Native Creed and Top Naxl. $15; 21 and older.
• Old-school death metal band Gatecreeper with Candy and Show Me The Body at 7 p.m. Friday at 191 Toole. $25 in advance, $30 day of show; open to anyone 16 and older.
• Holy Fawn and Super Unison with Lychee at 4 p.m. Friday at Wooden Tooth Records. $10, all-ages.
• Illinois singer-songwriter Ryley Walker with Wild Pink, Chris Hall and Pearl Charles at 8 p.m. Friday at Che's Lounge. Admission is free, 21-and-older.
• Montreal trio Big Brave with Tucson band Trees Speak at 11 p.m. Friday at Owl's Club. $10, 21-and-older show.
• Billy Sedlmayr and the Mother Higgins Children Band with Melaena Cadiz at 6 p.m. Friday at Exo Bar. $8 in advance, $10 at the door, 21 and older.
• Street Blues Family and Seanloui at R Bar, 10 p.m. Friday. Free, 21 and older..
• Pushing Buttons at 10 p.m. Friday at Thunder Canyon. 21 and older, admission is free.
• Humphouse 10 p.m. Friday at Cobra Arcade Bar. Free, 21 and older.
• XIXA with Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, 7 p.m. Saturday at Hotel Congress. $10, 21 and older.
• Emo rapper Wicca Phase Springs Eternal with Dana Dentata, Creeks, Rituals of Mine, 7 p.m. Saturday at 191 Toole. $20 in advance, $25 day of show, 16 and older.
• Dîa de las Luchas wrestling with music by Taco Sauce, 7 p.m. Saturday at the Rialto Theatre. $10, all ages.
• Dogbreth with Foxx Bodies, Pro Teens and Rough Draft, 4 p.m. Saturday at Wooden Tooth Records. $10, all ages.
• Minimal Violence and Deafkids with Scale, 10 p.m. Saturday at Owl's Club. $10, 21 and older.
• Vox Urbana, 10 p.m. Saturday at Boxyard. Free, 21 and older.
• Chick Cashman with Kid Congo Powers, The Exbats and Anchor Baby, 10 p.m. Saturday at Che's Lounge. Free, 21 and older.
• Nedarb, FoxWedding and Positive Satan, 10 p.m. Saturday, Cobra Arcade Bar. Free, 21 and older.
• Zackey Force Funk, 10 p.m. Saturday at Thunder Canyon. Free, 21 and older.
• Black Renaissance: Immersion, 10 p .m. Saturday at R Bar. Free, 21 and older.
• Amy Rude and Mamma Coal, 7 p.m. Saturday at Exo. Free, 21 and older.
• Emo Nite featuring Aaron Gillespie, Lil Aaron and Tucson's own The Green Shirt Guy, 8 p.m. Sunday at the Rialto Theatre. $20, 16 and older.
• Bill Callahan with June West, Casey Golden, Jake Xerxes Fussell and Howe Gelb, 6 p.m. Sunday at Hotel Congress. $20 in advance, $25 day of show; 21 and older.
• Injury Reserve with Fat Tony, Yung Davon, Psypiritual, Sadgalnina and BbyMutha, 7 p.m. Sunday at 191 Toole. $20 in advance, $25 day of show; 16 and older.
• The Courtneys with Hotline TNT, Toner and Stripes. 4 p.m. Sunday at Wooden Tooth Records. $10, all ages.
• Closing party with Death Bells, Cold Showers, Marbled Eye, Lie and Droll, 9 p.m. Sunday at Club Congress. Free, 21 and older.
• Loveland, 5 p.m. Sunday at Che's Lounge. Free, 21 and older.
Did you know?
Hotel Congress opened in 1919 as part of a downtown expansion project that included the Rialto Theatre across the street.
The location was ideal if not for the fact it was within a short walk of the Amtrak Southern Pacific train station that had a dozen year headstart on the hotel. The hotel landed federal historic landmark status some years back and the folks who run it now want to remind us of that history. That's why none of their 40 rooms has a TV, but you'll sleep in an iron bed and when you pick up the 1930s-style rotary phone in your room, it connects to a big working switchboard downstairs.
Some modern updates, of course, include air conditioning and private bathrooms. There's a nifty tap room downstairs, the hopping Club Congress and a pretty terrific restaurant in the Cup Cafe. When the train blows through downtown, you can hear the whistle scream almost above whatever act is performing on the patio, where you're going to see a host of bands perform at this weekend's Hoco Fest.
Some folks will swear Hotel Congress is haunted. Maybe it's the ghost of John Dillinger who with his gang of outlaws was famously captured at the hotel in 1934. Or maybe it's just the rattle of those trains.
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Cathalena has covered music for the Star for the past 20 years. She's a graduate of Arizona State University has worked at Sedona Red Rock News, Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, New York; and USA Today.