HOT DISH: Tim McGraw Works Overtime to Promote Album and Tour

New Cash Arrives in Nashville, a Farewell to Barney and a Band Worth Watching

(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

Tim McGraw has been working overtime to promote his new greatest hits album and an upcoming tour with wife Faith Hill. Tim McGraw Reflected: Hits Vol. 2 will be released March 28, and the couple’s 70-city Soul 2 Soul II tour kicks off April 21.

What beats all, Tim took himself down to a Nashville radio station one morning this past week to talk about the tour. While he was there, he reached in his pocket and took out a CD that contained “When the Stars Go Blue” and “I’ve Got Friends That Do” — two new songs from the album — and had them played on the air. Said Tim, “We usually send out a single six to eight weeks ahead of a new album, so I just thought it would be different to send out two records and see what happens over the next month. This gives fans a chance to say which should be the single — or maybe both.”

His NBC-TV special, Tim McGraw: Reflected, is set to premiere April 5 and promises a concert from the Big Apple, performances from his farm and must-see duets with Faith. Down on his farm, he jams with Hank Williams Jr., and he also performs “My Little Girl,” a song from his upcoming movie, Flicka.

Johnny Cash’s Grandson Debuts
Born Feb. 27, the day after what would have been his legendary grandfather’s 74th birthday, he’s been named Jack Ezra Cash, the son of John Carter and Laura Weber Cash. Grandson of the late Johnny and June Carter Cash, the new arrival is obviously the namesake of Johnny’s older brother, Jack, whose accidental death when he was 12 years old haunted Johnny his entire life. The choice of names also honors Ezra Carter, Mother Maybelle Carter’s husband, who was the father of June, Helen and Anita Carter. Johnny credited Ezra Carter with teaching him to love the Word — the Bible. John Carter and Laura are also the parents of a daughter, Anna Maybelle. John Carter’s son, John, is from a former marriage.

Shedding a Big Tear for Barney
I felt something warm run down my cheek. A tear. A big one. My eyes runneth over, and if yours did, it’s OK. Mama is 92, and before Alzheimer’s played havoc with her, she watched Andy Griffith’s TV show. So do I, and so do my sons and their kids to make four generations digging Andy and Barney Fife. When Don Knotts passed away, my eyes and my heart cried. They don’t make TV like that anymore — family fun that’s safe for kids to watch without fear of filthy talk or violence. You know what? Andy and Barney dug bluegrass — and that’s all the more reason for us to love them.

The Buzz You Hear: The Lost Trailers
With so many superstars and just as many newbies, it was hard to pick out something special on the RCA Label boat trip down the Cumberland River during the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. But I did, and it’s those cute boys that call themselves the Lost Trailers.

For four years, the group has crisscrossed the country playing something like 200 dates a year. It’s no wonder they found work. They’re entertainers, after all. They also write their own songs and have a doggone good reason for their name. You see, their band trailer with all their equipment has been stolen three times.

During the boat trip, their first single, “Chicken Fried,” received an overwhelming response from country radio programmers, Alabama’s Randy Owen and me. Lead singer Ryder Lee plays three instruments and hails from Tarboro, N.C., which makes him almost perfect. My favorite, Stokes Nielson, the blue-eyed songwriter, and his brother, Andrew, are from Albany, Ga., and they play four instruments each. Drummer Jeff Potter, who also sings, is a Maryland boy. A token Floridian, Manny Medina plays rhythm guitar and harmonizes. Hey, they’re Southern boys. They say “yes, ma’am” and “no ma’am,” and they’re not ashamed to say grace. My kind of band.

Toby and Show Dog Move Out
Toby Keith’s radio promotion staff for his Show Dog Nashville label moved out of the building he shared with partner Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records. Nobody seems to know exactly what’s going on between the two indie labels. However, a publicist said they just couldn’t share the same staff. While we know that’s a likely story, could there be more to it than that? Toby says none of the major labels want him to make it as a label owner, but he’s confident he will. In reality, labels on Music Row are busy trying to cover their own rear ends. They don’t have time to wonder if Toby’s OK.

Where They Are
If you’re like me, you can’t keep up with which artists have recently signed with which record labels. So I compiled a list:

Emerson Drive and Steve Azar have signed with Midas Records.

Sammy Kershaw, like Travis Tritt, is now affiliated with Category 5 Records, giving that label two of country music’s finest vocalists.

Brian McComas signed with Katapult Records.

Pat Green, Rhett Akins and Ronnie Milsap have joined the RCA Label Group.

Darryl Worley signed with pal Neal McCoy’s label, 903 Music.

Kenny Rogers and Merle Haggard are both at Capitol Records.

Mark Wills is on the Equity label.

Toby Keith added Scotty Emerick, Glen Campbell, Tim Rushlow, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Sarah Johns to his Show Dog Nashville label.

Big Machine Records signed Jimmy Wayne and Dusty Drake.

Other News
Congratulations to Josh Turner for his No. 1 single, “Your Man.” After four weeks, his latest CD, Your Man, went heavy metal with a gold certification signifying shipments of 500,000 copies.

Montgomery Gentry will saddle up to host the Academy of Country Music’s third consecutive celebrity motorcycle ride on May 21 in Las Vegas. Keith Urban, Trent Willmon and members of Trick Pony and Van Zant will be along for the fun. But for now, Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry are packing their guitars and clothes to perform for the troops in the Persian Gulf and Germany in late March.

Speaking of Keith Urban, he told the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer he doesn’t practice guitar as much as he used to. Said Keith, “For me, it’s trying to get more honest with expression, trying to get to a point where you express what you want to express.”

Oh! An Aussie publicist reports the rumors that Keith will marry Nicole Kidman at a Catholic Church in Sydney, Australia, on March 11 is nonsense. When a publicist makes such a blatant statement, it more than likely means they will probably marry then and there.

Jeff Bates sophomore album, Leave the Light On, will be on the shelves April 11.

ABC-TV has renewed Good Morning America’s “Good to Go” campaign for another year with Julie Roberts singing. Julie, whose Lenscrafters ad campaign is featured in People, Vogue and other national magazines, is getting ready for the June release of her second album, Men & Mascara. Both can make a woman tear up and cry.

Bluegrass returns to the Executive Inn at Owensboro, Ky., on April 28-29. Best lineup ever, they claim, and I ain’t arguing: Coon Creek Girls, Pine Mountain Railroad, the Grascals, J.D. Crowe & the New South, David Peterson & 1946 and Ronnie Reno.

During this entire month, Trace Adkins will be heard at 75 Petro Truck Stops where his CDs and DVD will be played.

The CMT Dukesfest 2006 will be held June 3-4 right here in Nashville at the Music City Motorplex with all the living members of the Dukes of Hazzard family. Expect to see: Ben Jones (Cooter), John Schneider (Bo Duke), Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), James Best (Rosco), Sonny Shroyer (Enos) and Rick Hurst (Cletus). Also several of the stand-in drivers from the show will be on hand to show off their racing and daredevil driving skills.

The Ray Charles exhibit opens at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday (March 10) and will remain on display until Dec. 31, 2007. You won’t want to miss this historical and meaningful musical showcase.

As a final note, love and sympathy to my friend, Billy Ray Cyrus, on the death of his father. Ron Cyrus, who served 20 years as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly, died Tuesday (Feb. 28), following a battle with cancer.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Noodle Dish.