Celebrated country artist Toby Keith circles the wagons, accompanied by a posse of melodic outlaws and dazzling pyrotechnics during Toby Keith’s Locked & Loaded Tour Presented by Ford F-Series. Toby’s three-fisted lyricism, irresistible hooks, and physics-defying aerodynamics have made him a human cannonball in the canon of country music, and the tour celebrates his new album, Bullets in the Gun, with ballistic flamboyance. Audiences will goggle as 1,000 square feet of video screens, a giant T-shaped ramp party pit, and a dazzling display of explosives form a proscenium framing Toby’s arsenal of straight-shooting hits. Riding sidesaddle on the tour, rowdy troubadour Eric Church deputizes audiences with hits from his No. 1 album Chief, and songsmith JT Hodges belts out ditties about sustaining romance when forced to bake soufflés in zero gravity.
On the quiet, Monday-night streets of Puyallup, no one inside Ricky J’s Restaurant and Lounge seems to care that it’s a school night. The lights in the warm pub burn brightly, as local musicians jaunt onto the stage to enthusiastic applause. Servers raise their voices to be heard over the twang of guitar and the terrified screams of the drums, taking orders for pizzas and pitchers of beer. Between decimating plates of nachos or cheering at the end of the band’s set, guests engage in a little friendly competition at the pool tables. This is the scene of the pub’s open mic night—the first of many weekly events on a schedule flush with karaoke, bingo, and trivia.
As guests squabble over trivia answers or dance to DJ-spun tunes in the dining room, chefs are bustling through the kitchen. They top freshly made burgers with grill-blacked bacon and juicy pineapple slices, and dress pizzas with homemade sauce and creative toppings such as barbeque pulled pork and tortilla strips. The chefs are creative even with their side dishes, frying onion rings in homemade beer batter and painting portraits of tater tots dressed as Napoleon. In the mornings, the chefs turn their attention to breakfast items, including cheesy omelets, overstuffed burritos, and pancakes with banana, strawberry, and whipped cream.
A taste of Northwest Brewing Company's beers is akin to a trip around the world. The brewery, formerly Trade Route Brewing Company, finds inspiration in the trade routes of old, which is why its brewmasters incorporate exotic ingredients such as ginger and palm sugar when crafting each batch with time-honored brewing methods. These eclectic flavors beget distinctive beers, such as the Mango Weizen, which stirs taste buds with Saaz hops and mango puree, and the Midnight ale, which splashes chocolate, crystal, and pale malts with two types of hops to create a dark brew that pairs well with spicy food and glow-in-the-dark steaks. Not content to keep their flavors in liquid form, Northwest Brewing Company also slings a menu of gastropub cuisine—including gourmet pizzas and cheese-slathered pasta dishes— backed by live music every Saturday night.
Stan Phillips spent his childhood at his father’s side in their Kansas City backyard, his little hands barely strong enough to handle the wood for the family’s smoker. Now that he’s grown, Phillips brings his family’s recipes to his Issaquah restaurant, where he slathers meats such as beef brisket, ribs, hot links, and ham with a traditional dry rub, smokes them over hickory wood, and dishes them out with sauce on the side. When diners step inside the rustic barbecue joint, they can order their meats by the pound, or dig into sandwiches such as the Cowboy, whose pork is pulled apart with a spur. A full bar slings cocktails, wines, and craft beers to suit every entrée, and the dining room displays a full Sunday football lineup on its large televisions.
Corks and Canvas Events, like a work of fine art, came about by pairing a good idea with a passion to create. The founders both came from the marketing world, where they spent their days devising campaigns and events to inspire their audiences to take action. A shared love for art and wine inspired them to bend their action-creating talents toward a new goal—hosting painting and wine events in area wineries and wine bars, allowing guests to "uncork their creativity" and promote the burgeoning Washington wine industry.
Their idea took the form of Corks and Canvas Events, where experienced artists lead guests step-by-step through the painting creation process. Guests re-create various paintings, everything from lush vineyard scenes to preening roosters, while sipping on glasses of local wines.