Of course, there's the Jacksons. Finally.

The Jacksons concerts -- or the Michael Jackson concerts, if we're going give them an honest billing -- will finally explode at RFK Stadium on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21 and 22. The feeling within the industry is that this tour, potentially the highest grossing in history, marks Michael's farewell: to his brothers for sure and possibly to the concert stage. Wisely, the brothers are letting Michael carry the bulk of the show, with Jermaine getting a mercifully brief chance to show just how far it is between number one son and number two.

And to keep teen hearts throbbing and pre-teens hopping that weekend, Latino sensation Menudo makes its first-ever Washington appearance at Constitution Hall on Sept. 23. The season's other spectacular will feature Prince, the Minneapolis rocker who surprised everyone by stealing both the thunder and the limelight from the Jacksons and Springsteen; he'll hold forth at the Capital Centre for three nights in November.

The fall season holds no major surprises, though it does bring back some superstars who haven't played here in several years including Rod Stewart (at Cap Centre on Sept. 20) and Elton John (at the Centre on Oct. 17). The Jacksons extravaganza continues a tradition begun with the Rolling Stones alleged "farewell tour" in 1981, the Who's actual farewell tour in 1982 and David Bowie's revival in 1983. This may be the passing of Michael, but who knows, it may also mark the blossoming of Marlon and Tito.

The actual number of fall concerts seems on a par with those of recent years, and the opening of the 10,000-seat Washington Convention Center for concerts has given the city an attractive new midsize venue; the complex's main concerns continue to be the conventions and exhibitions that severely limit availability. The only major concert scheduled there right now is a Black Music Association tribute to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, on Sept. 23; it will feature Brown, comedian Eddie Murphy and a number of other major acts who will be in town for the BMA convention.

Other promising concerts will feature Rickie Lee Jones, Ricky Skaggs, Lou Reed, Keith Jarrett, Cecil Taylor, R.E.M., Gordon Bok and Sun Ra. We can also expect concerts from Culture Club (probably in November at the Capital Centre), the Psychedelic Furs, new British sensations Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the old Youngbloods with Richie Havens, Ronnie James Dio, Quiet Riot, Sheena Easton, the O'Jays, Whispers, and potent double bills featuring the Dells with Jerry Butler; the Temptations with the Four Tops; Crosby, Stills and Nash with the Band; and Scandal with John Waite. Patti LaBelle, who recently sold out a week at the Warner three weeks in advance, may come back for another long stay as well. And Legend, a tribute to Bob Marley featuring the I-Threes (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths) and the original Wailers, is also scheduled to pass through.

On the club scene, there was bad news and good. First, the bad: Adam's, which had established itself as a much needed successor to the still lamented Cellar Door, closed suddenly at the end of August after providing a much needed small venue. On the bright side, Kilimanjaro's Heritage Hall has become a stopping point for the major African and Jamaican pop and reggae groups who often have bypassed Washington in the past.

The innovative Word/Song series, now in its third year, has moved from Wolf Trap's Barns to the Hirshhorn Auditorium. The Barns' schedule seems evenly divided between pop and chamber music, with much of the pop being recycled successes of the past (Trapezoid and Tom Chapin) and an awful lot of TBAs. The Smithsonian's Resident Associate programs is a poor substitute for the now-disbanded Performing Arts unit, at least in the popular music side. There's a token sprinkling of jazz, but precious little else. The most adventurous jazz programming continues to come from District Curators, with several shows at d.c. space (the String Trio of New York, Don Pullen Quartet), the Sun Ra Costume Ball at the Old Post Office Pavilion, the Art Ensemble at the Wax Museum and Cecil Taylor at Baird Auditorium. September

Traditionally, the summer season ends and the fall season begins today with two big local bashes: the Takoma Park Folk Festival (on the grounds of Takoma Park Jr. High School) and Adams-Morgan Day (spread out in the vicinity of 18th Street and Columbia Road). Both daylong events feature some of the best local musicians playing in their own communities, and they play for free. Also, today unites the Drifters and the Marvelettes at the Springfield Hilton; it's just one more example of a resurgence of interest in classical rock that seems to have swept Washington in the last year.

Concerts for the month include parting shots from the Merriweather Post Pavilion's summer season with the very hot Pointer Sisters and Lee Ritenour (Tuesday) and Billy Squier and Ratt (Wednesday); the Washington debut of Fela Kuti, who was the prince of African pop long before King Sunny Ade, at the Warner (Thursday); Los Huasos Quincheros at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Sept. 18); Rod Stewart, who hasn't been here since March 1982 and who has unfortunately parted ways with guitarist Jeff Beck, at the Capital Centre (Sept. 20); Michael Jackson et al. at RFK Stadium (Sept. 21 and 22); James Brown and Eddie Murphy at the Convention Center (Sept. 23); Menudo at Constitution Hall (Sept. 23); metallurgists Rush at the Capital Centre (Sept. 27), and Dixie Dreg-less guitarist Steve Morse at Maryland's Grand Ballroom (Sept. 28).

The club scene, which stayed remarkably busy during the traditionally sluggish summer months, kicks into high gear this month (though most of the post-October bookings are not yet set). Blues Alley brings in Chuck Mangione, normally a concert act, for three nights of intimate duality with guitarist Don Potter (Sept. 10-12), followed by singer Jocelyn Brown (Sept. 13-18), saxophonist Stanley Turrentine (Sept. 18-23), and Jean Carne (Sept. 24-30). Charlie's also kicks off with a trumpeter, New Orleans legend Al Hirt (Sept. 11-16), followed by the theatrical comedy of Gotham (Sept. 18-23) and the theatrical balladry of Bobby Short (Sept. 25-30, Oct. 2-7). The King of France Tavern in Annapolis has guitarists Emily Remler and Martin Taylor (Sept. 12-16), and the Hoagy Carmichael Jubilee (Sept. 19-23). One Step Down's only solid September booking is the Tommy Harrell/Bob Mintzer Quartet (Sept. 14, 15).

The Wax Museum brings its own New Orleans flavor to season's opening with an evening of swirling syncopation from the Neville Brothers (Sept. 11), followed by the Mighty Diamonds and Unconquered People (Sept. 18), retro-blues renegade Leon Redbone and Suzanne Vega (Sept. 19), the Art Ensemble of Chicago (Sept. 24), Shannon (Sept. 25), Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah (Sept. 26) and Johnny Winter (Sept. 27). The Bayou has its rock animus working with White Animal (Sept. 11) and the Blasters (Sept. 30).

The 9:30 kicks off with a triple bill featuring the B. Surfers, Rites of Spring and Fright Wig (Sept. 13), the Cucumbers (Sept. 14), Comateens (Sept. 15), X Mal Deutchland (Sept. 20), Human Switchboard (Sept. 22), Tracie and the Soul Squad (Sept. 23), guitar virtuoso Allan Holdworth (Sept. 25), Tones on Tail (Sept. 27), and local favorites the Slickee Boys (Sept. 28, 29). Kilimanjaro's will feature the Yoruba Singers of Nigeria (Sept. 15), Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus (Sept. 21), Hugh Masakela (Sept. 22, 23) and Mutuburaka and the High Times Band (Sept. 28).

The Birchmere, the nation's top bluegrass club, continues to expand its eclectic folk-and-country menu, with Jerry Jeff Walker (Sept. 10), Schooner Fair (Sept. 11, 12), the Osborne Brothers (Sept. 14), the Nashville Network's David Holt (Sept. 15), Irish traditionalists De Danaan (Sept. 18, 19), country's best female vocalists, the Whites (Sept. 21), Quicksilver (Sept. 22), and Keith Whitley, a bluegrasser-turned-to-country who many are calling the next Ricky Skaggs (Sept. 29). Skaggs himself may be coming in for a Cole Fieldhouse concert in mid-October.

Other September concerts: Broadway's John Reardon at Montgomery College's Performing Arts Center (Sept. 12); the String Trio of New York at d.c. space (Sept. 15); the Potomac River Jazz Club's annual picnic at Blob's Park in Jessup, Md., featuring a dozen traditional jazz bands from the region (Sept. 15); crooner Buddy Greco at Lenny's II (Sept. 18-23); Danny Carnahan and Robin Petrie at the House of Musical Traditions (Sept. 24); and the Artie Shaw Orchestra at the Springfield Hilton (Sept. 30). October

Most concert activity this month is centered on Constitution Hall, with Gladys Knight and the Pips and Kashif (Oct. 5, 6), Lou Reed (Oct. 8), Stevie Ray Vaughan (Oct. 11), Jeffrey Osborne and Patrice Rushen (Oct. 13). Other concerts include Tom Chapin at the Barns (Oct. 5), Mikos Theorakis at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Oct. 5), Word/Song with Derek Walcott, Nathan Davis and Tomorrow at the Hirshhorn Auditorium (Oct. 7), The Kendalls at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center in Arlington (Oct. 7), Psychedelic Furs at the Warner (Oct. 9), R.E.M. and the db's at George Washington University's Smith Center (Oct. 10), Charles Aznavour at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Oct. 10), Elton John at the Capital Centre (Oct. 17), Ossian at Gaston Hall (Oct. 19), Alex deGrassi at the Barns (Oct. 20), Jean Redpath at Gaston Hall (Oct. 26), Trapezoid at the Barns (Oct. 26), Sun Ra and the Arkestra at the Post Office Pavilion (Oct. 28). The Ossian and Redpath concerts are part of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington's 20th anniversary celebration.

Blues Alley has the Woody Herman Big Band (Oct. 1), Ramsey Lewis (Oct. 2-7), a pair of intriguing piano-guitar duets with McCoy Tyner and John Abercrombie (Oct. 9-14) and Claude Bolling and Larry Coryell (Oct. 15-17), Kenny Rankin (Oct. 25-28), and Herbie Mann (Oct. 30-Nov. 4). Charlie's has singer Margaret Whiting (Oct. 9-14), Billy Taylor (Oct. 16-21), the Modern Jazz Quartet (Oct. 23-28) and Mort Sahl, making his quadrennial pre-election appearance (Oct. 30-Nov. 4). At the King of France, it's the Stef Scaggiari Trio (Oct. 3-7), Kenny Davern and Dick Wellstood (Oct. 10-14) and the Charlie Byrd Trio (Oct. 17-21). Other jazz bookings include the Don Pullen Quartet at d.c. space (Oct. 19) and the Sir Roland Hanna/Frank Wess Quartet (Oct. 5, 6), the Steve Wiliams Quartet (Oct. 19, 20), and the Andrew Hill Quartet (Oct. 26, 27), all at the One Step Down.

The Wax Museum kicks the month off with Latin American heartthrobs Pimpinela (Oct. 3), followed by NRBQ (Oct. 4), Renaissance (Oct. 8), David Allan Coe (Oct. 11), the reconstituted Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin, Bill Evans, Mitch Forman and Dan Gottlieb (Oct. 14), John Prine (Oct. 16, 17), Swiss classical harp virtuoso and fusioneer Andreas Vollonweider (Oct. 18), Bruce Cockburn (Oct. 21), the Mary Wilson-led Supremes (Oct. 24) and the comedy troupe, Second City (Oct. 25).

The 9:30 has the Washington Squares and Betty (Oct. 4), the Fleshtones (Oct. 5, 6), Iron Butterfly (Oct. 7), with much more to come. The Birchmere's schedule features the Dry Branch Fire Squad (Oct. 5, 6), Skyline (Oct. 12), Norman Blake (Oct. 19, 20), Mike Cross (Oct. 24) and Mary Travers (Oct. 26). November

Information starts to get extremely thin now, since most pop-oriented events work on a two-month lead time. But the concert schedule (some of it tentative) is heavy with Capital Centre shows: hard-rocker Sammy Hagar and Krokus (Nov. 4), Prince and Sheila E (Nov. 18-20). Other concerts: Gordon Bok at Gaston Hall (Nov. 10), Keith Jarrett at the Kennedy Center (Nov. 11), Anita O'Day at Baird Auditorium (Nov. 11), the Gary Burton Quartet at the Barns (Nov. 17), Bryan Bowers (Nov. 23) and the Widespread Jazz Orchestra (Nov. 24, both at the Barns), Rickie Lee Jones at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (Nov. 26), Cecil Taylor and Reuben Brown at Baird Auditorium (Nov. 30).

On the club side, the Birchmere has Commander Cody (Nov. 2, 3) and the New Grass Revival (Nov. 9, 10). Blues Alley brings in Stan Getz (Nov. 6-11), Dizzy Gillespie (Nov. 13-18), the Milt Jackson/Ray Brown Quartet (Nov. 20-25), and Les McCann (Nov. 27-Dec. 2). Charlie's has the New York/Kennedy Center cast of "Some Enchanted Evening," a revue based on the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Nov. 6-11 and 13-18), Jimmy Symington (Nov. 20), Mose Allison (Nov. 21-25) and local siren Karen Akers (Nov. 27-Dec. 2). d.c. space will present Amira Baraka, Steve McCall and Fred Wei-Han Haun (Nov. 10), while the One Step Down has Johnny Griffin (Nov. 16, 17) and the O'Donnell Levy Trio (Nov. 30, Dec. 1). December

Concerts (again, some tentative) include U2 at GW's Smith Center (Dec. 2); the Paul Winter Ensemble and poet Samuel Hazo doing "Sun Singer" as part of Word/Song at the Hirshhorn Auditorium (Dec. 2), Pat Metheny at Constitution Hall (Dec. 5) and the Monty Alexander Trio at the Barns (Dec. 15).

Club-side bookings include the Buddy Rich Big Band (Dec. 3), the Maynard Ferguson Sextet (Dec. 4-9), the Wynton Marsalis Quintet (Dec. 12-17), Jocelyn Brown (Dec. 19-23) and Ahmad Jamal (Dec. 26-30), all at Blues Alley; Steve Allen (Dec. 4-9), Woody Herman sitting in with the Charlie Byrd Trio (Dec. 11-16), the Kingston Trio (Dec. 18-23) and Jimmy Witherspoon (Dec. 26-30), all at Charlie's. The only Wax Museum date set at this time is Shadowfax (Dec. 5).