This weekend's "House Rockin' Blues Review" at El Casino Ballroom has all of the makings of a trip back in time for Tucsonans.
The concert series was once a local live music staple.
Blues and roots acts, Buddy Guy, Queen Ida and Albert Collins among them, appeared in town throughout the 1980s as part of the KXCI-sponsored festivities.
The Paladins, a rockabilly trio from San Diego, became a familiar face to many local music fans through House Rockin' events.
The group, led by guitarist Dave Gonzalez and double bassist Thomas Yearsley, opened for Los Lobos and the Nighthawks at House Rockin' shows and even headlined one of the gigs.
"That place was killer," Gonzalez recalled in a phone interview Monday from the road. "Tucson has always been one of our favorite places to play."
The Paladins will return to the ballroom to perform at the House Rockin' Blues Review revival this Friday, the group's first stop in town since 2003.
The band is the main attraction on a bill that features Phoenix blues harp player Bob Corritore, Mike Eldred, Bad News Blues Band, Tom Walbank, Mike Herbert, Johnny Strasser and the Rockabilly Strangers.
The Paladins are visiting as part of an extended reunion tour, brought on after a six year hiatus.
The outfit started as a side gig in the late 1970s, a joint effort between high school students Gonzalez and Yearsley, that soon evolved into a full-time project with a global following.
Over the course of more than two decades, The Paladins grinded it out, playing hundreds of gigs a year and releasing nine studio albums, including its most popular recording, 1990's "Let's Buzz" on Alligator Records.
The road eventually took its toll.
By 2004, the band was ready for a break.
"We were going at it for more than two decades," Gonzalez said. "You miss every birthday, every Mother's Day. You don't get to see your kids graduate."
Gonzalez also felt like it was time to pursue other projects.
His visits to Tucson since the hiatus have included shows with the Stone River Boys and the Hacienda Brothers, which paired him with the late Chris Gaffney.
Both projects leaned more country.
"I wanted to go toward country, play more soulful stuff," Gonzalez said. "It was a fantastic opportunity to work with Chris. It is just a tragedy that he got sick and didn't make it."
After years of receiving requests to return to the stage as the Paladins, Gonzalez said the band, complete with drummer Brian Fahey, finally gave in.
One of their first tours in 2010 took them through parts of Europe and reinvigorated the enthusiasm among its members.
"The Paladins have always had a different, unique sound than any other band I have played in," Gonzalez said. "There is a certain chemistry between us."
Gonzalez said the group isn't hitting it as hard as it once did.
They all have side projects. Yearsley owns a recording studio and runs the Lux Records label. Gonzalez has the Stone River Boys and his own studio in Austin, Texas.
Gonzalez said the group is going to see where this all leads.
In the meantime, the Paladins have produced a 45 RPM single with new material, that will be available at Friday's concert.
Gonzalez said the band is pumped to play Tucson again.
"KXCI has always played our music," he said. "Tucson still has that cool vibe. It does its own thing."
If you go
•What: KXCI's "House Rockin' Blues Review" with the Paladins, Bob Corritore, Mike Eldred, Bad News Blues Band, Tom Walbank, Mike Herbert, Johnny Strasser and the Rockabilly Strangers.
• When: 7 p.m. Friday.
• Where: El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St.
• Cost: $12 in advance through KXCI, Antigone Books, the Folk Shop and The Parish. $15 at the door.
• Details: 795-1420.
Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430.