HOT DISH: Is Country the Grammy’s Stepchild?

Louise Scruggs Remembered, Emmylou Harris Honored, Alan Jackson Reverent

(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 CMT.com.)

Doing interviews from the green carpet Wednesday (Feb. 8) at the Grammys in Los Angeles, Ryan Seacrest was not as obnoxious as Joan Rivers and her daughter, Melissa, but he snubbed the stars of country music. He ignored Tim McGraw and Faith Hill while yakking with Mary J. Blige. When Lee Ann Womack walked by, he did not acknowledge her. Somebody is allowing the music I love to be the stepchild of the Grammy Awards.

On the other hand, Keith Urban did us proud — picking and singing “You’ll Think of Me” — as did Faith Hill with “The Lucky One.” Keith played guitar and sang harmony with Faith. Judging by Sugarland’s performance on the awards show, Kristen Hall’s absence sticks out like a sore thumb.

The three-time winner of the night, Alison Krauss & Union Station turned out to be the only country act allowed to pick up a trophy on television — their award for best country album. She also won country instrumental and country duo or group. Maybe after her latest wins, radio will wise up and program Alison’s records, but don’t hold your breath.

Congratulations to Music City’s other non-televised winners: Emmylou Harris (female country vocal), Urban (male country vocal), Hill and husband Tim McGraw (country collaboration with vocals), “Bless the Broken Road” (best country song winner written by my friend Jeff Hanna along with Marcus Hummon and Bobby Boyd), the Del McCoury Band (the bluegrass album nod is their first Grammy), Amy Grant (southern, country or bluegrass gospel album), Delbert McClinton (contemporary blues album), Tim O’Brien (traditional folk album) and John Prine (contemporary folk album).

Louise Scruggs: Now There Was a Woman
Since I last sent words your way, I have been to QVC in West Chester, Pa., preparing for the mid-March relaunch of my cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars. Also, I had cataract surgery. The cataract surgery went fine. I’m glad it’s over. It’s tedious to have to stop and go to a doctor and aggravating as all get out to have to be driven everywhere.

Sadly, I’ve also been to the wake and funeral of one of my dearest friends, Louise Scruggs. Most of you readers know Louise was Mrs. Earl Scruggs for 58 years and know she was 18 when she first saw the 21-year-old banjo man onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, playing with Bill Monroe. Louise once told me, “The audience was awestruck with Earl’s banjo picking, but I thought he was cute.”

Louise’s memorial was held at the Ryman, where she first saw Earl 60 years before. Billy Bob Thornton and Dwight Yoakam came from Los Angeles. Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and the Whites performed Louise’s favorite songs. Brother Will Campbell and Eddie Stubbs eulogized the woman who kept Earl Scruggs on page one throughout his career. Brother Will, quite the humorist, quipped, “Even the angel Gabriel knows the place is under new management.” All I could think was, “I believe Louise’s beloved son, Stevie, met her at heaven’s gate.”

Thornton, Yoakam, Tritt and Stuart served as pallbearers alongside John Carter Cash and Jon Randall. Also in attendance were Jeff Hanna (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and wife Matraca Berg, Amy Grant, Béla Fleck, Bill Anderson, Steve Wariner, Larry Cordle, Hanna-McEuen, members of the Grascals, the late Jimmy Martin’s family members, Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, Kyle Young and Liz Thiels of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Grand Ole Opry executives Pete Fisher and Steve Buchanan and a bevy of others.

Sending much love and sympathy to Earl and to their sons, Randy and Gary, and all the grandchildren. God bless you all.

Leadership Music Honors Emmylou Harris
Leadership Music will honor Emmylou Harris at a gala event on Sept. 19 at the brand new Schermerhorn Symphony Center that’s being built in downtown Nashville. Emmylou will be honored with the Dale Franklin Leadership Award, an honor named for the organization’s first executive director. I can think of no other artist who has crossed so many musical genres during her illustrious career yet remained true to herself and her craft.

Her love for music was enriched by her early collaborations with Gram Parsons. Her initial recordings and performances had a lot to do with the surge of traditional music in the mid-’70s to mid-’80s and paved the way for artists like George Strait, John Anderson and Randy Travis. Her legendary Hot Band included the finest players on both coasts, including Rodney Crowell, Albert Lee, Emory Gordy Jr., Tony Brown, Hank DeVito and Ricky Skaggs. Emmylou, a social activist, continues to lend her time and voice to worthwhile causes.

Alan’s Precious Memories
If you paid close attention to my column last week like you should have, then you’re frothing at the mouth for superstar Alan Jackson’s gospel album. I have an advance copy and have already listened and listened. Alan is singing the hymns he learned as a child in church … and it doesn’t get any better than hearing him sing “Blessed Assurance” and “Softly and Tenderly.” If you love the Word and the old-time ways, run — don’t walk — to get your copy on Feb. 28.

Information From Me to You
Why is Dierks Bentley calling his latest roadwork his Platinum and Porcelain tour? Well, both his CDs are platinum — which obliges him to perform in arenas with first-class indoor plumbing. No Porta-Johns.

George Strait has quietly sold 6 million copies of his 50 Number Ones CD. This ties the Cowboy’s sales of the soundtrack to his film, Pure Country.

Performing James Taylor’s classics, Alison Krauss, the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban were among the musicians to honor the singer-songwriter last week in Los Angeles at a sit-down dinner benefiting MusiCares. Nicole Kidman watched her boyfriend Urban singing Taylor’s “Country Road.” Urban will be performing soon in Chapel Hill, N.C., where the Taylor family once resided and where James’ dad was on staff at the college. My nieces in Caswell County, N.C., won’t allow their boyfriends to accompany them to Urban’s concert.

The Hank Williams Museum in Oak Hill, W.Va., will become a reality. Hank’s last stop before he died was a Pure Oil station in this small mountain town. The aim is to open the museum on Sept. 16, 2006, the day before Hank’s 83rd birthday.

Toby Keith has added several more cities to his Big Throwdown II tour. Opening act Joe Nichols will be joined by Scotty Emerick, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Sarah Johns — three artists recently added to Toby’s Show Dog record label. Is Danielle Peck no longer on this tour?

Franklin, Ky., will be the site of a new bluegrass music hall, according to owner James Monroe. He’ll host the grand opening weekend on April 19-22 with Larry Sparks, Leroy Troy, Roni Stoneman, Mac Wiseman, the Grascals, Bobby Osborne and many others.

I love southern gospel music, so I watch the Gaither Vocal Band and know Guy Penrod by sight. Guy, lead singer of the group, and wife Angie recently welcomed their eighth child — their first daughter.

Just think what one little hillbilly boy has done for sick children. Randy Owen, lead singer of the legendary group Alabama, instigated country radio telethons benefiting the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Recent fundraisers at WKHX/Atlanta, WGKX/Memphis, KILT Houston, WMZQ/Washington and WKML Fayetteville, N.C., rang up almost $5 million. Thanks, Randy.

I am happy to report BlackHawk recently signed with a new label called Rust Records, and Emerson Drive signed with Midas. Both acts are deserving, and I hope radio jumps on their music.

I was sorry to learn that the home of songwriter John D. Loudermilk and wife Susie Loudermilk was destroyed by fire. The couple lived in the country near Christiana, Tenn. John wrote hit songs like “A Rose and a Baby Ruth,” “Abilene,” “Talk Back Trembling Lips,” “Waterloo,” “Sad Movies Make Me Cry,” “Tobacco Road” and many more.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Broccoli Salad.