Marty Kool has been spinning blues on KXCI FM 91.3's Saturday-night Blues Review for more than 25 years. As charter members of the original Tucson Blues Society, and more recently the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation, he and his wife, Mary, are significant and beloved icons within the local blues community. It was no surprise, then, to see almost 300 strong pack the Boondocks on a cold and rainy night to raise funds for family medical bills.
Kudos to Gary Mackender for putting together an all-star lineup that included Tall Paul, Grams and Krieger, and Stefan George holding things together for the early portion of a show that began at 6 p.m. However, it was Mitzi Cowell and the Valiants—unheralded in that they have not been invited to any of the annual blues fests—who ignited the show with a blistering set of originals and covers. With Sidney George on tenor sax, Mackender on drums and Nick Augustine on bass, they were joined by surprise guest vocalist and Tucson expatriate Cantrell Maryott on "Black Cat Bone" and Cowell's original "Painting Mailboxes."
The Valiants were followed by the Bryan Dean Trio. Dean peppered his all-originals set with a host of tunes from his soon-to-be-released CD. His set was followed by Heather Hardy and Sabra Faulk fronting a makeshift band that also included Mackender and Cowell. A combination of 12-bar shuffles, slow blues and Hardy originals, their set also featured great harmonies between Hardy and Faulk. (Great sound was showcased throughout, courtesy of soundman Mark LaVeer.)
The night concluded with a set from Tony and the Torpedoes, who donated this, their monthly Boondocks gig, to the cause. Frontman and guitarist Tony Uribe was generous in sharing his stage and his solos with Hardy on electric violin, Chris Leonard on guitar, and guest Clark Engelbert, from the AmoSphere, also on guitar. Uribe mentioned his 30-year friendship with the Kools and was clearly moved when he dedicated "In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)" to them.
"I'm in radio, so I really don't get to see anybody," Marty Kool remarked, somewhat overwhelmed toward the end of a night that he and Mary will long cherish.