HEAR IT: “To the things I can count on to keep me going strong / Yeah, I hold on, I hold on.” So croons hometown country hunk Dierks Bentley in “I Hold On,” an ode to the grounding elements in his life – faith, love, family and freedom, as well as his beat-up truck and scratched-up guitar case – and the second single from his seventh studio album, Riser. The Tempe native will hold on to his Arizona roots with a stop at Ak-Chin Pavilion on Saturday, July 26, for his Riser Tour 2014, with openers Chris Young, Chase Rice and John Pardi. Sing along as Bentley belts the album’s other singles, the swingy torch song “Bourbon in Kentucky” and the party-starting “Drunk on a Plane,” and fan favorites from his twangy oeuvre, like “What Was I Thinkin’” and “Come a Little Closer.” Tickets cost $25-$240. ak-chinpavilion.com
How historical houses of the holy around the Valley became converts to a new purpose.
Built: 1893, as a Methodist church and school
Repurposed: 2014, as Taco Guild restaurant
If you’ve been praying for a place that serves a ton of tequilas (like, more than 152) and innovative locavore street tacos among stunning stained glass windows, elaborate chandeliers and a seamless hodgepodge of secondhand items and historical finds, may your prodigal wandering bring you here. When Z’Tejas CEO Steve Micheletti was looking for a location for his new taco concept, he was skeptical of the enthusiasm expressed by commercial real estate agents about the location, which was badly in need of restoration.
Thirty years ago, then-mayor of Scottsdale Herb Drinkwater would take Michael J. Fox – no, not that Michael J. Fox – out in his Jeep to look at property to the north of downtown Scottsdale, “which, to the north then, was like Shea Boulevard,” Fox remembers. As director of the Heard Museum, and a guy who’d launched art institutions in Berkeley and in Flagstaff, Fox was known as a development whiz. Meanwhile, Drinkwater was enamored with the idea of developing a museum dedicated to the art and history of the American West, and wanted to share his vision with Fox.
If you took a tour bus and filled it with all the musicians who helped make the history of Arizona country music remarkable, you’d see several familiar faces: Rex Allen. Marty Robbins. Tanya Tucker. Waylon Jennings. But you’d also discover a few forgotten folks, like Billie Maxwell, a cowgirl who cut the first commercial record by an Arizonan in 1929. And if you drove to just a few of the places around the state wrapped in Western lore and connected to country music, you’d be making a long C-shaped drive spanning almost 268 miles, from the Petrified National Forest to near the Mexico border.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Artist Daniel Edlen puts a new spin on vintage vinyl albums. The Gilbert resident painstakingly paints intricate images of music stars on records using a fine brush and white acrylic paint, resulting in amazing and affordable art (each record sells for $350). “I wanted to make them affordable for music lovers,” says Edlen, who has created hundreds of albums featuring everyone from Engelbert Humperdinck to Frank Zappa.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH: What would you do with half a million LEGO pieces? Well, if you’re local LEGO artist David Shaddix, you might make a detailed portrait of Barry Goldwater or an Arizona Cardinals football helmet. There’s little the artist can’t do with LEGOs, which is one reason Shaddix’s work is featured in the exhibition Build! Toy Brick Art at the Heard, a family-friendly show that opened May 24 and connects LEGO lovers to the work of four artists, including Shaddix.
READ IT: Arizona-born artist Ted DeGrazia’s paintings pulse with bold brush strokes and bright blocks of vibrant color. His faceless figures of Native American children and rough-textured landscapes immerse viewers in the Southwest and its culture. But the man behind these paintings remained a mystery to many well past 1982, when he died of cancer. In DeGrazia: The Man and the Myths ($29.95, University of Arizona Press), authors James W. Johnson and Marilyn D. Johnson attempt to construct a comprehensive picture of DeGrazia from mere puzzle pieces – stories in newspapers, magazines, books, a handful of personal papers, and a dozen interviews with peripheral people from DeGrazia’s past. The result is an entertaining profile of a mischievous man who built a wall of privacy around himself while struggling for approval and widespread recognition of his work.