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'TIS THE SEASON ... FOR DIVERSIONS

After a month of being unable to escape holiday music, untangling strings of potentially twinkling lights, and elbowing blue-hairs at the mall to get that Mark Twain memoir for Grandpa, Christmas finally arrives this week, thank Jesus (literally!).

While the musical pickings are a bit slim this week, there are still some decent diversions to get you out of the house once that creepy uncle of yours starts in on his third brandy.


WORTHY CAUSES

This is, of course, the season of giving, and it's always pretty sweet when you give and get a little something in return. Benefit shows fit that bill quite nicely, wouldn't you say? Here's a bit of info about two worthwhile ones this week.

The Arizona Blues Hall of Fame's statement of purpose reads thusly: "ABHOF has been organized to educate the public about and promote the veteran blues musicians and individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the blues music culture in the state of Arizona." Short, simple and to the point—no frills, just like the blues itself.

This week, some local blues acts will get together to raise some cash for the organization.

Although they haven't yet been inducted into the ABHOF, the Bad News Blues Band has won plenty of other accolades over the last 13 years, including winning first place in the Arizona Blues Shootout in both 1997 and 2002, performing at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and taking home countless TAMMIES, including the readers' choice Band of the Year honor in 2005. Their brand of blues is a driving, rocking one, held down by a tight rhythm section, the smoking guitar-playing of Mike Blommer (who himself has taken home multiple TAMMIES for his instrument of choice) and a rollicking horn section featuring tenor sax player Alex Flores.

On the other end of the blues spectrum lies Stefan George, who has received dozens of awards over the years, and has indeed been inducted into the organization for which he'll be raising money this week. Beloved as much for his sometimes-heartbreaking, sometimes-comical songs as for his picking and slide-playing on his trademark resonator guitar, George was born to play the blues.

Those two acts will team up with others at the annual Arizona Blues Hall of Fame Benefit on Wednesday, Dec. 29, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The show begins at 7 p.m., and cover is a suggested donation of $5. For more information, head to hotelcongress.com, or call 622-8848.

About three months ago, Jim Gyuro, a veteran of several local acts (and, as his alter ego Mr. Mocos, a children's-music performer), was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma, which affects the ducts that drain bile from the liver into the small intestine. In October, he and his family traveled to Davis, Calif., so Jim could undergo a major surgery called the "Whipple procedure." Initial results were positive, and Gyuro seemed to be doing well. But then a pathology report came back with the news that cancer cells were found in his lymph nodes. The last news we've heard is that Jim was scheduled to begin chemo treatments.

Back in September, his friends in Tucson banded together with the goal of raising $10,000 to help him and his family with living costs, medical treatment and traveling to and from California. A YouTube video was created; a Facebook page was started (search for "People Interested in Helping Jim Gyuro and Amy Haskell"); benefits were held. From what I can tell from various sources, that $10,000 goal has nearly been met. But as anyone who's undergone any sort of medical procedure within the last several years can tell you, $10,000 is often a mere drop in the bucket.

And so, this week brings us Winter Jimboree: Benefit for Jim Gyuro and Amy Haskell, which will help raise additional funds to help with the family's expenses. (Jim and Amy have a daughter.) The fundraiser will take place at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Sunday, Dec. 26. In addition to performances by Jumper, RedScout, Will Johnson, Shrimp Chaperone and Hans Hutchison, there will be a silent auction, raffle prizes and, in honor of Jim's pompadour, a Big Hair Contest. The show starts at 6 p.m., and there is a suggested donation of $5 to $15 (though larger donations will surely be accepted). For more information, check out the aforementioned Facebook page or the YouTube video, or call Plush at 798-1298.

Best wishes for a full, speedy recovery, Jim.


A MULLARKEY MILESTONE

Last week, we told you about the band La Cerca celebrating its 10th anniversary, and this week brings another decade milestone.

Dec. 31 will mark 10 years since Mullarkey, frontman for Monster Pussy and the more recently formed Run-On Sunshine—and perhaps the most ardent live-music supporter in town—moved to Tucson. And what better way to celebrate than with some live music?!

Run-On Sunshine, Mullarkey's new not-quite-a cappella act (in his own words: "minimalist, stripped-down; no loud, plugged-in instruments") will headline the show, which will also feature Flagstaff's similarly K Records-influenced Feel Free and whispery Tucson co-ed duo Ex Cowboy. The show will be the fourth in four days for Run-On Sunshine and Feel Free, who will be returning from dates in San Diego, Los Angeles (at The Smell) and Phoenix.

Mullarkey's 10th Anniversary in Tucson! show begins at 7 p.m., next Thursday, Dec. 30, at Preen, 210 N. Fourth Ave. Cover for the all-ages show is $3.


YES, VIRGINIA, THERE REALLY IS JAZZ AT THE RED ROOM

While Tucson is home to an incredible array of talented musicians in just about every genre imaginable, it's not exactly known as a great jazz town. So it's always nice when a great local jazz show happens—and it's even better when it's free.

That's just what will happen sometime next week at the Red Room at Grill, 100 E. Congress St., when drummer extraordinaire (and the only person I know who's ever performed on the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon—twice!) Arthur Vint teams up with monster sax player Brice Winston for a freeform jazz set. (The show was originally scheduled for tonight, Thursday, Dec. 23, but was delayed just before our press deadline.)

Both native Tucsonans, Vint is currently on break from school in New York, while Winston relocated to town after 16 years in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He currently teaches at the Tucson Jazz Institute, but he's known nationally for his work as part of trumpeter Terence Blanchard's band; he's also performed over the years with Nicholas Payton, Herbie Hancock, and Ellis, Wynton and Branford Marsalis. Call 623-7621 for the show date and further details.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, Dec. 30; Mark Chesnutt at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Wednesday, Dec. 29; Michael Ronstadt CD-release show at the Glass Onion Café, tonight, Thursday, Dec. 23; Greyhound Soul, Silverbell, Creosote, Naked Prey, Ricky Gelb and Billy Sedlmayr (what a bill!) at Club Congress on Friday, Dec. 24; Disco Organica at Plush next Thursday, Dec. 30; Brothers Gow at The Hut on Sunday, Dec. 26; Patti Zlaket at Club Congress on Sunday, Dec. 26; Tom Walbank at the Surly Wench Pub on Friday, Dec. 24; Two Cent Revival at Club Congress on Monday, Dec. 27.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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