Arizona Artbeat: Arizona Territory Radio Play

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Arizona’s 104th birthday will be celebrated with “Arizona Territory,” a radio play on Statehood Day February 14 at 7 p.m. The Arizona Centennial Theatre Foundation along with KTAR radio will present the play, which will be performed live at Tempe Center for the Arts. The story is set in 1898 and focuses on the relationships between two sisters and their love interests, both military men. Ben Tyler, ACTF executive director and director of the radio play, and Richard Warren, the playwright, will tell us more.

Ted Simons: Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods served as the state's top law enforcement officer for eight years. But recently Woods found a different kind of service. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Scott Olsen explain.

Video: So, the things I would like to cover are --

Christine Estes: Attorney Grant Woods is holding court inside Three Leaf recording studio.

Grant Woods: The way I have this sketched out, they're going to be doing a lot.

Christine Estes: This group has already done a lot donating their time and talents to the project. What started as a way it highlight Arizona musicians quickly became something more.

Grant Woods: Everyone viewed it as a chance to kind of show Arizona in a different light than sometimes it's portrayed. It is not all divisive -- it is a very welcoming place, a very diverse place. It is not a -- it is not a Balkanized place in my view.

Christine Estes: To see that, Woods says, you just need to listen.

Grant Woods: The first song in the record "Ride Out the Storm." and when I wrote "Ride Out the Storm" I envisioned that it could be done in my mind either of two ways. You could either do it in your traditional singer/song writer/country version, Americana version. Maybe a Willie Nelson type something like that. Or it could be done as kind of the power rock ballad. So, maybe Meatloaf or Kid Rock.

Christine Estes: Or Michael Nitro

Grant Woods: At 2:00 in the morning he did his first vocal on it. And it was absolutely on the money.

Christine Estes: Each song for the project started like this. Woods penned all 10 songs.

Grant Woods: I viewed this as a collaborative effort. I wanted them to run with it and put their own stamp on it.

Christine Estes: And they did. Listen to Mindy Harris's take on Blue's Hotel. And here is how Lawrence Subia interpreted "Mexican Dreams."

Grant Woods: Lyric-writing was just jumping out all over the place for me.

Christine Estes: Richardson jumped at the chance to be part of the project; we caught up with them at the CD release party.

Walt Richardson: It paints a different picture of Arizona and it also tells a deeper story of Arizona, I think that it is time to get out.

Grant Woods: They travel the country or the world, and they say they're from Arizona. And oftentimes they get kind of a look or a reaction. Why -- maybe those people have only heard some of the craziness that has come out of Arizona.

Walt Richardson: Arizona has a great story behind the scenes. Music is a great place to start because the musicians that have started out on Mill Avenue have toured the world. And people wonder where does this come from? Say Tempe, Arizona, they go wow, where is that? If you focus and follow it back, you will see there is a lot of musicians right here that don't play the same way they play in L.A. Don't go to Nashville. And they haven't gone to Seattle. Because there is an organic feel right here that's natural to Arizona. And now the spotlight is shifting to them.

Christine Estes: They also hope to shine a light on the next generation.

Walt Richardson: The main thing especially related to this project is that we keep funding any part of the education system that is going to reach into the creative nature of children. Because we lose that and as adults, we have to regain it. And it is always a struggle to regain it in the midst of raising kids and having a profession, things of this nature. But if it is brought up as a natural part of our growth in the education system, supported there, then these kids don't have a problem going out and supporting their art, even if they want to be a neurosurgeon. They will still learn to play the saxophone and be in a jazz band.

Christine Estes: Or in the case of one former attorney general, set aside politics and pick up a guitar.

Grant Woods: I've been to 10 million political events, unfortunately, and, you know, even the successful people in the room, they're always looking over their shoulder. Always looking beyond the person they're talking to. And they're always -- there is jockeying for positions. There are only a certain number of positions. Well, you know, I don't want that guy to do well because he may run for this office and that blocks me. And all of this nonsense constantly. We had when the record was done, the singers had not heard the other -- most of the singers had not heard the other people's songs. So we had a party at my house where everybody came over. The musicians, the singers, and then we listened to the record. And I'm telling you, it was really an amazing experience for everybody. Everyone in there was pulling for everybody else. And they were genuinely excited. Playing Along is a good example. Some of the people in the room had not ever heard -- they heard him sing the song. Phenomenal, beautiful voice, great song writer. They were blown away. And all positive. All they wanted was to have everybody succeed. All they wanted was for at the end of it to have something to really be proud of, and to be moved by.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Video: From the friends of Arizona PBS, members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Ben Tyler: ACTF Executive Director, Richard Warren: Director of the Radio Play "Arizona Territory"

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