HOT DISH: Like Gene, Roy and Clint, George Has It

Fiji Beckons, Hank Jr. Is Ready for Some Football and Jo Dee Heads to the Olympics

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

After 25 years of singing, recording and touring, cowboy George Strait still has it — whatever it is. Just as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers rode their horses and sang their songs past mid-life, Clint Eastwood continues to act and, at age 54, George Strait continues to fill venues. The Cowboy’s recent performances in Omaha, Neb., Little Rock, Ark., and Oklahoma City all sold out. As a matter of fact, he broke all records at Little Rock’s ALLTEL Arena where 17,559 screaming fans turned out. George is set for 25 more shows spread out between now and June. In March, he and his brother, Buddy, will host the annual George Strait Team Roping Classic in San Antonio.

Now Who Is Heading to Fiji?
We’ve heard all the rumors of a wedding in Fiji for Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, but that hasn’t come to pass. And we’ve heard Nicole registered at a Bed, Bath & Beyond just south of Nashville. Some British paper even reported that the engagement is off. (Keith had not given up his old ways, according to the Daily Mail in London.) I found no truth in the latter. A source close to the couple did say the couple truly care for each other.

Now I hear Lee Ann Womack and hubby Frank Lidell are jetting off to the romantic island of Fiji — located about an inch from Australia on my map. There wasn’t time for a honeymoon when Lee Ann and Frank got married a few years ago. Since Lee Ann was female star of the CMA Awards and Frank is looking real good as a record producer, they’ve earned a vacation. You do know that Frank produces Miranda Lambert’s music, don’t you?

Hank Jr. and Super Bowl XL
Sunday (Feb. 5) will mark Hank Williams Jr.’s fifth Super Bowl appearance during his 16-year run with ABC Sports when he opens Super Bowl XL. Hank’s performance of “Are You Ready for Some Football?” was filmed last week in Los Angeles. The face-off between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks will be held in Detroit. Hank promises he and Kid Rock will be making huge noise at the big game.

Jo Dee Reporting
Jo Dee Messina will travel to Torino, Italy, to cover the 2006 Winter Olympics for Westwood One Radio Networks on Feb. 13-24. She’ll provide exclusive feature reports based on her day-to-day experience as a fan and spectator. Being of Italian descent and an avid sports fan, the assignment is a natural for Jo Dee, who has spent the last couple years focused on running and taking better care of her health. Oh, and she also sings.

Yet Another Charliepalooza
All-American Charlie Daniels was at it again Sunday (Jan. 28) in Tampa, Fla., helping the Angelus, a home for the severely handicapped. For the 14th year, Charlie hosted the event that has raised more than $2 million. Enjoying the celebrity golf, poker and concert: Montgomery Gentry, Jason Aldean, Cledus T. Judd, Chad Brock, Trick Pony and the Marshall Tucker Band. You cannot outgive God, and it’s hard to outgive hillbillies like Charlie Daniels.

James Denton: Now There’s a Host
I’ve always loved the Miss America Pageant. I remember it being a shock to me the year Miss America was actually younger than I was. I watched the show this year simply because it was Miss America, and was I pleasantly surprised. You see, of all the hosts through the years, including Bert Parks, nobody has done a better job than James Denton. His Southern manners and good looks make him a perfect candidate for major TV hosting. He’s bright and smart but not smarty. The Goodlettsville, Tenn., native made me proud.

Trace Draws a Full House
Trace Adkins kicked off his Honky Tonk Badonkadonk tour in Burlington, Iowa, with a sold-out crowd and continued with packed houses in Waterloo, Iowa, and La Crosse, Wis. Columbus, Ohio, was sold out before the tour rolled in. Trace has about 20 more shows on the books. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is his fastest-rising single ever and is staring No. 1 in the face.

Did You Hear?
The amazing Reba McEntire has just taped the 100th episode of her Reba sitcom.

The Carter Family, known as the first family of country music, consisted of A.P., Sara and Maybelle. The passing of 82-year old Janette Carter on Jan. 22 marks the last of the second generation of Carters. The daughter of A.P. and Sara, she was preceded in death by brother Joe and sister Gladys. Maybelle had three daughters — Helen, Anita and June.

I see where the Court of Appeals of Middle Tennessee ruled that Hank Williams Jr. and half-sister Jett Williams are the sole owners of their father’s valuable and historic performances on the radio show sponsored by Mother’s Best Flour. These unreleased performances have been in litigation for almost 10 years with Hank Sr.’s label, Polygram Records, which claimed ownership of all of his performances under his original contract with MGM.

Two of country music’s most beautiful people — Keith Urban and Faith Hill — are set to perform together on this year’s Grammy Awards on Feb. 8. Does the fact that Keith and Faith have the same manager and publicist have anything to do with the twosome performing? Or does Keith only hang out with pretty women? Just asking. If you ask me, Faith is prettier than Nicole Kidman.

Is there any truth to the wonderful rumor I hear about Jerry Lee Lewis recording an entire album of duets with top rock ’n’ rollers like the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen as well as country superstars like Merle Haggard and George Jones? Tell me more … and don’t you know the IRS will be on that like a duck on a June bug.

The upcoming Music of America tour will feature John Conlee, Janie Fricke and T.G. Sheppard. All music. No waiting in line for beer.

Rascal Flatts make their acting debut when they appear as themselves Wednesday (Feb. 1) on the CBS-TV hit comedy, Yes, Dear. The trio filmed the show just before they wrapped up their tour for the holidays and headed to Las Vegas for the Radio Music Awards. And Joe Don kept on his britches.

The now-defunct Rising Tide label released two albums on Jack Ingram that bit the dust. Sony’s Luck Dog label released a couple before dropping him. The Texan just kept on keeping on. Jack’s Live: Wherever You Are, his first for Big Machine Records, recently debuted at No. 33 on the country charts, and his latest single, “Wherever You Are,” has climbed to a respectable No. 27.

Tim McGraw, co-owner of the Nashville Kats indoor football team, and Montgomery Gentry were performing a concert for season ticket holders recently when Tanya Tucker showed up and volunteered to sing “Delta Dawn.” Accompanied by Tim’s band, the Dancehall Doctors, Tanya taped the performance for inclusion in her reality series on the TLC network.

Jessi Colter, widow of the late Waylon Jennings and mother of young whippersnapper Shooter Jennings, has recorded her first solo album in 20 years. Titled Out of the Ashes, it will be in stores on Feb. 21.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Tomato Gravy.