HOT TALK: Sara Steers Son, Dierks Has Dandy Duet

(HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime CMT.com contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)

Sara Evans Talks of Kids, Politics
Speaking to Sara Evans a few days ago about the impending release of her fourth album, Restless, the conversation strayed to her kids and her politics, both of which, she assures me, are big parts of her life. Olivia, her daughter, is almost 7 months old, and Avery, her son, is nearing his fourth birthday. Both travel with her. “Olivia is doing wonderful,” Evans beams. “She is so fat and cute, and, oh, my gosh, we’re all just falling more in love with her every day.” Avery, she declares, “is awesome. He’ll be four on Aug. 21. We’re planning his birthday party. He’s going to have a Davy Crockett birthday. He’s my first child and the love of my life. He’s been performing on stage, singing ‘[The Ballad of] Davy Crockett,’ and the band plays with him. I’m trying to force him into the music industry.”

Her husband, Craig Schelske, is active in Oregon politics. For the most part, she says, she welcomes being identified with his political aspirations: “I enjoy it. There are days when I just accept it, especially when it’s at all controversial. I don’t really like that. Craig and I are both conservatives. We’re Republicans. That tends to be a little more controversial in the entertainment industry. There are times when it’s kind of fun. I love him, and I’m so proud of him. I want to support him so much. I love politics myself. Craig and I have been together almost 12 years. There were times when he and I were so poor, when we were first married, that we actually went and rented a television set to watch the elections.” Marcus Hummon, her frequent and much beloved co-writer, I point out, is a devotee of liberal causes. So do they ever argue? “No, we don’t,” she says emphatically. “We only talk about [politics] so much. But if we ever do get into it, it’s usually he and Craig. And they’re not the type of people who would argue or offend. We just kind of stay away from that.”

Dierks Bentley Rejoices Over Louvin Slot
Sure, Dierks (“What Was I Thinkin’”) Bentley is excited about the release of his self-titled debut album on Capitol Records, but he’s just as bubbly when he speaks of the prize slot he landed on Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers. On it, he and Harley Allen sing “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” a cover of the Louvins’ 1956 hit and their first No. 1. Believe me, they tear it up. “I fought really hard to be on that project,” Bentley tells Hot Talk. “It wasn’t handed to me. I don’t know whether Universal South wanted me on there at first or not. But [album producer] Carl Jackson is a friend of mine. I used to sing a lot of [Louvin Brothers] stuff with my cousin, who’s a banjo player. He sang harmony with me. We did a lot of their stuff and the Delmore Brothers. I knew about the project and I really wanted to be on it. About eight months after it started, we got a chance to do the song. It was the last [one Jackson cut]. … Universal South heard it, and they loved it. It’s an honor to be on it. I was saying to someone the other day that I’m more excited about that project than my own record. Johnny Cash is on there, Merle Haggard, James Taylor, Alison Krauss and me!”

Bentley is pumped as well over the fact that he’ll be opening a show for Hank Williams Jr. Aug. 17 in Detroit. He credits Bocephus for turning him back to country music in high school after he spent three years trying to play guitar like Eddie Van Halen.

June Carter Cash’s Last Recordings Filmed for Documentary
The recording sessions that produced June Carter Cash’s last album, Wildwood Flower, were filmed last September at the Carter Family estate in Virginia. Portions of the film appear on the enhanced CD, but the entire footage is now being edited for a TV special. A spokeswoman for Dualtone Records, Carter Cash’s last label, says that the A&E channel has shown an early interest, but that other outlets are also being looked into.

De-Toured: Electric Barnyard, Breakin’ Ground Fizzle
The Electric Barnyard tour, which stars Marty Stuart and Merle Haggard, lost power after some of the dates failed to sell enough tickets and were cancelled. But Shore Fire Media, the agency that publicizes the tour, tells Hot Talk three dates remain uncancelled: Huntington, W.Va. (Aug. 22), Brooksville, Ky. (Aug. 23) and Atlanta (Aug. 31). The Breakin’ Ground Tour, an ambitious agri-music venture that opened June 21 in Lakeland, Fla., has also succumbed to disinterest and has been put on hold.

Universal South May Hold Dean Miller Album
After trying and failing on two singles for Dean Miller, Universal South is trying to decide whether to release his album, a source there confirms. These days, early singles that stiff generally doom the album they’re pulled from.

Phil Vassar Set for Hannity & Colmes Gig
Phil Vassar is scheduled to appear on Fox Network’s Hannity & Colmes show, where he will perform and be interviewed, and on Sean Hannity’s syndicated radio show. Both programs are scheduled to air Aug. 21.

Scotty and Ronny Revisited
Smoke begets smoke. When I wondered aloud last week why Scott Emerick emerged as Scotty Emerick for his first DreamWorks Records album, several of you were kind enough to suggest that I “get a life.” “I can’t believe I care enough to write you about this,” wrote Sara, with palpable disdain. “Anyway, I’ve known Scotty for awhile now, and I’ve never heard any of his friends refer to him as Scott. … I asked him in early June if he was going to be Scott or Scotty when this whole solo artist thing takes off, and at that time, he said ‘Scott.’ A few days later, I see ‘Scotty Emerick’ on the DreamWorks site. But you know him. He just shrugs his shoulders, quietly says ‘whatever’ and strums his guitar.” Well, I thought I knew him. Roy Snyder asserted, “‘Scotty Emerick’ rolls off the tongue easier than ‘Scott Emerick.’” It almost forces a smile. The roll I got; the smile ain’t here yet. Richard Holland weighed in with this explanation, “We attended the DreamWorks Records party at Fan Fair (R.I.P.) this year, and we had no idea who Scott Emerick was at the time. A lot of the girls at the party were referring to Mr. Emerick as ‘Scotty the Hotty,’ which may explain the name change. ‘Scott the Hot’ just doesn’t sound the same.” “He is cute, likable and super friendly, like a teddy bear,” Carolyn Sigsbey proclaimed. “You don’t call your bear ‘Ted,’ do you?” I promise never to raise this subject again. Ever.

Correction: It’s Ron Sexsmith
Holly Williams has been performing with Ron Sexsmith, not Rex Sexsmith, as I oafishly stated in my most recent screed. Thanks to reader Kendall D. Webb for alerting me to this bumble.

Could I Have a Legal Opinion Over Here, Please?
If radio-station chains, which operate on government licenses, systematically refuse to play the music of older artists, might they not be sued successfully for age discrimination? Just asking.

The key’s in the mailbox, come on in. But keep your hands off my beer. Write me at Hottalk@cmt.com.