HOT DISH: Gretchen Teams Up With Travis

Loretta Gets Some Christmas Presents and So Does the Hall of Fame

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by former Country Music magazine columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at

Travis Tritt and Gretchen Wilson a Duo
“Now we are talking music,” said I upon receiving the news that Travis Tritt and Gretchen Wilson were doing a live collaboration in Jacksonville, Fla. Wilson joined Tritt
on stage for a performance of “Too Far to Turn Around” from Wilson’s pen and from
Tritt’s CD, My Honky Tonk History. News worth knowing, kiddos.

Ask Louise (Mrs. Earl) Scruggs. Ask almost anybody who knows music and they will tell you, Travis Tritt is THE male singer. Does the chart show it? Not really. Do record sales reveal it? Not so you can tell it. But I have high hopes. Read on.

Head honcho at Sony Records, a dude named John Grady, has survived Minnesota’s snowy winters plus years on Music Row — which gave him his tough license. Billy Ray Cyrus, Shania Twain, Toby Keith and O Brother, Where Art Thou were blessed by John Grady. The man would not allow them to fail anymore than he will allow Tritt to spin wheels. Keep in mind; Grady is the man who built a proverbial fire under Gretchen Wilson.

Don’t tell nobody I said it, but I just wonder if Grady already has a duet song chosen for these two great artists. Talk about a home run!

Praise Be!
Approaching the eve of Christmas, best news I’ve heard all year — the CMA presented the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with a very generous donation. It is my humble prayer that today’s stars who generate an unbelievable amount of money will take pride in the Hall of Fame and see to it that our forefathers are respected in the manner they deserve to be. Country music’s history is preserved within those walls, and it’s up to us to see to its upkeep for eternity. Thanks to the CMA board for their generosity and kindness toward the preservation and longevity of the greatest music on planet Earth, country music.

Loretta Knows
Sunday’s Tennessean spotlights the famed and near famed with a regular half page section called Behind the Head Shot. The incredible Loretta Lynn was recently featured. When asked for her Five Sexiest People, she named four dead people — Elvis Presley, Gregory Peck, Dean Martin and Conway Twitty. Keeping up with the times, the always wise and smart and trendy Loretta added, “Keith Urban. He’s the cutest guy singer in country today.”

I must say; this is not the first time I’ve agreed with Loretta.

Bluegrass and Blue Collar
When Ralph Stanley was inducted as an Opry member, a Stanley associate thanked me for always keeping bluegrass mainstream in my columns through the years. Well, isn’t it mainstream? Reread CMT Hot Dish, and you will see I’ve consistently kept bluegrass and country comics on page one.

Finally the charts caught up with what I already knew could be and would be: The mighty fine CD Lonely Runs Both Ways by princess of bluegrass, Alison Krauss, & Union Station and Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again by Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron White both entered the Top 10 on the country charts.

Grammy Nominees
Thank goodness, Loretta Lynn’s critically acclaimed Van Lear Rose CD got five Grammy nominations in the seven country categories. Like Johnny Cash, this great artist could have been totally overlooked and until now was overlooked by awards for her latest self-penned album. It looks real good to see Gretchen Wilson’s name, especially on the all-genre new artist slate with those people I don’t know. Ditto, it’s good to see Tim McGraw’s hit “Live Like You Were Dying” in the song of the year all-genre songwriting category, honoring Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman in the same sentence with pop/hip-hop writers.

I’d liked to have seen Terri Clark in the female vocal performance lineup with Alison, Martina, Loretta, Shania and Gretchen. It would be nice had Kenny Chesney been included with Cash, Lyle, Tim, Willie and Keith Urban in the male vocalist performance category. Urban along with Lynn, McGraw, Wilson and Tift Merritt was also nominated for country album.

The Notorious Cherry Bombs’ notorious single “It’s Hard to Kiss the Lips at Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long,” penned by the legendary Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill, is nominated in two categories — best country performance by a duo or a group and best country song. I’d bet the song has a fighting chance.

It’s absolutely wonderful that the Country Music Hall of Fame compilation Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm and Blues 1945-1970 is up for a Grammy. By the way, mementos of that era are prominently displayed at the Hall of Fame until March 2005 along with the music.

Kenny Going International
Lutrell, Tenn., is a small town with a big star, Kenny Chesney. CMA’s entertainer of the year was the subject of a three-page spread in The London Times. Kenny admits being a little nervous during the interview, not knowing what a writer from England is gonna think about him and his music. The 5-foot-6-inch Kenny sounded like a giant when he admitted he wasn’t truly happy in his career until he quit trying to be George Strait and started being himself. Kenny baby, before long, the sun ain’t gonna set on your music ’cause you are going international. You would be a tall boy in Asia.

The Rest of the Story
For a backstage look at Rascal Flatts (no kin to Lester Flatt), tune in to CMT Total Access on Dec. 30.

No. 1 celebration for Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” single at BMI.

Keith Urban’s fan club has produced a 2005 Keith Calendar to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Info available at

Country music on the strip during the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas. Brad Paisley and Pat Green spent three nights performing at Elvis’ favorite haunt, the Las Vegas Hilton. Randy Travis and Dolly Parton also saw their names in lights.

Country Radio Seminar will feature LeAnn Rimes performing at the Curb/Asylum luncheon on March 2.

Keith Urban, Montgomery Gentry, Big & Rich, Phil Vassar, Julie Roberts, Billy Currington, George Canyon, Sugarland and Cross Canadian Ragweed set to take Manhattan by storm — Manhattan, Kan., 10th annual Country Stampede June 23-26, silly, not Manhattan, N.Y.

However, Big & Rich are set to join a bevy of non-country music greats on Dick Clark’s New Year Rockin’ Eve 2005 from Times Square in New York City. Clark suffered a mild stroke and after 33 annual hostings, he may not be able to close 2004.

Three-times daddy, honky-tonking Mark Chesnutt slows down for Thanksgiving and for son Cameron’s birthday, followed by son Waylon’s birthday on Dec. 8 and son Casey’s birthday on Dec.18. Since he and wife Tracie have all boys, Mark says it’s great to take time off and enjoy a family holiday. “Being all boys, Santa delivers some pretty fun stuff. That’s why everybody needs to believe in Santa Claus — we’re all kids at heart,” declares Mark. Amen, brother. I love kids and Christmas.

I see where CBS may give Fan Fair another TV show. Last year’s event drew over 9 million viewers which is nothing to be sneezed at. Course since it was a first-time outing, CMA paid for most of the production. Hopefully, the 2005 festival will be self-paying.

Prayers for 83-year-old Little Jimmy Dickens who is hospitalized with pneumonia.

Wonders never cease. Jackie Daly, daughter of Tammy Wynette, has her late mother’s bathroom sink for sale on eBay. According to provided info, the sink was originally in the Hank Williams home on Franklin Road which Tammy purchased.

Congratulations to hard-working Terri Clark. Her current CD Terri Clark Greatest Hits 1994-2004 is certified gold.

Julie Roberts on The Tonight Show Dec. 30.

No. 1 party at BMI for Sara Evans’ “Suds in the Bucket.”

Montgomery Gentry and Trace Adkins set to tour in 2005. The hot duo and the country hit maker kicks off their Turn It Up, Bring It On tour on Feb. 3 at Madison, Wis. Rowdy Montgomery Gentry and sexy Trace Adkins should draw ladies like honey draws flies.

The Darryl Worley Foundation is funding an outpatient chemotherapy clinic in his hometown, Savannah, Tenn. Both of Darryl’s grandpas died with cancer, so he knew firsthand the need for a local facility. The foundation raised funds from the annual Tennessee River Run, an event Darryl started in 2001. Previously, cancer patients had to travel the two-hour trip to either Memphis or Jackson, Tenn., sometimes daily for treatment.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Potato Soup.