HOT DISH: Garth Comes To Town

More News on Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and the IBMA Awards

(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

Nobody had an inkling Garth Brooks was even in Tennessee, but the superstar made the annual SOURCE banquet quite an occasion in Nashville. SOURCE, the only professional organization of female executives in the Nashville music industry, was presenting its Jo Walker-Meador Lifetime Achievement award to Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee.

Hard working and deserving gals who made guys look much better than they deserved originated SOURCE to honor women who slaved in the shadows of men in the music biz. Not only did the females make much less money, they hardly ever even saw their names in print. The SOURCE banquet honors these deserving ladies who worked hard and made their way to the top.

Brenda Lee is one of the few people inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In being presented the lifetime achievement award from SOURCE, she was honored for her tireless work on behalf of numerous charities, including the National Kidney Foundation, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and many, many others.

But when Garth showed up at the Sept. 21 banquet, not only did he surprise the attendees, he even surprised the honoree. Jo Walker-Meador, the longtime director of the Country Music Association, was on the podium getting ready to present the award named in her honor when a loud knock came on the door at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Garth walked through the door and onto the stage.

“What are you doing here?” a startled Brenda blurted. Referring to Trisha Yearwood, Brenda exclaimed, “I love your wife.”

“I do, too,” laughed Garth.

“And I love you, too,” Brenda continued. “Thank you for what you bring to this industry, not only through your talent but through your philanthropic efforts.”

Garth left as quickly as he came. He had to return home to Oklahoma to drive his three girls to school the next day.

Kenny Chesney Celebrates 25 Million
When Kenny Chesney headed north on I-65 to Music Town for his big party Tuesday (Sept. 26) to celebrate his career sales of 25 million albums, his radio was playing Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” Kenny remembered singing the song at clubs in East Tennessee when he worked with a tip jar in front of the stage.

Selling 25 million CDs is a big deal and something to give many singers a big head. But not Kenny. He’s just Kenny, who always finds a reason to remember the hard times and all the fun he’s had getting where he is now. He always thanks the people who have helped along the way. Kenny also chose to have his party at the new Musicians Hall of Fame on Sixth Avenue in Music City.

Congratulations, Kenny. Remember, 12 years ago, I believed in your dream — and I still do — because you record great songs.

Here and There
Thanks to the generosity of Rascal Flatts, the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is $ 811,425 richer. The trio presented proceeds from their recent sold-out concert in Nashville to the medical facility.

The International Entertainment Buyers Association will honor Ronnie Milsap with its Lifetime Achievement award on Oct. 17 in Music City. Industry veteran Narvel Blackstock will also pick up the IEBA’s Industry Achievement award. Reba McEntire will come to Music Town with Narvel, who’s her hubby and manager.

The first person to interview me about my new duties as host of CMT’s new series, Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith, was Beverly Keel, the new columnist for Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean. Beverly is also a professor in the recording industry department at Middle Tennessee State University and has served as People magazine’s country music correspondent for 10 years. I’d like to personally thank Beverly, who made the folks at The Ellen DeGeneres Show aware of me and my cookbook. As a result, I have guested on Ellen’s show more than anyone else. Thanks, Beverly, and good luck with the paper.

Bradley Walker is wheelchair bound because of muscular dystrophy, but he sure sings great on his new Rounder album. He celebrated the release at the Ryman Auditorium during an all-star bluegrass show that featured IIIrd Tyme Out, Longview, Alecia Nugent, James King, Dudley Cornell, Don Rigsby, J.D. Crowe, Aubrey Hayney, Adam Steffey, Ronnie Bowman, the Grascals and the threesome of Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley.

Remember Barney and Carter Robertson, the couple who toured and recorded with the great Waylon Jennings? I do, and I knew they had three daughters at home. Well, guess what? Those three daughters are now women, and they cannot help singing like angels. Toby Keith has probably hit a homerun for his record label, Show Dog, by signing Becky, Emily and Joanna Robertson as Carter’s Chord. Carter, of course, is their mama.

I can’t quote or prove authenticity of the e-mail, I received but it sounds true to me. According to the message, Willie Nelson is quoted as saying, “Thank goodness it was marijuana on my bus and not spinach. Had it been spinach, I’d be dead!” If Willie didn’t say it, he should have.

Grascals Named IBMA Entertainer of the Year
When we drove to the Grand Ole Opry House for Thursday night’s (Sept. 28) International Bluegrass Music Association Awards show, I was looking forward to the evening. I was with my grandson, Adam Smith, who was wearing a retro Bill Monroe T-shirt from 1976 that once belonged to his dad, Billy Smith. Thanks to Pete and Kitsy Kuykendall of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, we marched into the Opry House’s Studio A for a reception with the stars.

As for the show, it was a night of wonderful performances by many terrific musicians, including female vocalist winner Rhonda Vincent, instrumental group winners Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and vocal group and gospel recorded performance winners Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

To me, Claire Lynch gave one of the evening’s notable performances. With just two guitars, mandolin and upright bass, the group was awesome vocally and musically. It just goes to show it doesn’t take a stage full of players if a song is done right. This was again proven by host extraordinaire, Marty Stuart (guitar) and Bobby Osborne (mandolin) when they gave a chilling performance of “What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul.”

The Hall of Honor inductions included the wonderful Lewis Family, who closed the show with a rollicking gospel number, and the late Syd Nathan, whose King Records label recorded and released the music of the Stanley Brothers, Reno & Smiley and many others.

Let me tell you, though, my prayers were answered when the Grascals were named entertainer of the year. You all know that my son, Terry Smith, is a proud Grascal, and — you know me — I was big time praying. The dad of another Grascal, Terry Eldredge, told me he prayed up until they announced them the big winner. “Thank God” is all I know to say. It’s difficult to write what I feel in my heart, but I do want to thank the wonderful Grascals fans and thank for allowing me the privilege of telling you about it.

See this week’s Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Taco Soup.