NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Summer Treats: A New Waylon Live DVD Plus Four CDs

Plus: Backyard Bulletin: Summer Garden Drinks

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

1. There are two new and rewarding Waylon Jennings sets coming from Legacy Recordings on July 24. The first is the two-CD package The Essential Waylon Jennings which covers recordings issued from 1964 to 1987. It includes the full range of his recorded songs, from “Big Mamou” cut at JD’s nightclub in Phoenix right through the RCA studio years and into the Hillbilly Central days that spawned the Outlaw era. And then into his last years of recording, concluding here with “Rose in Paradise” from 1987.

The second package is a treasure — a DVD/CD of his 2000 concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, including footage of some of the rehearsals and backstage interviews with Waylon and artists ranging from Chet Atkins to Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. The two CDs feature all of the songs from that concert. I went to that show, and it was a full-blown treat with Waylon and his big Waymore Blues Band, including the Jim Horn-led Wailin’/Waylon Horns, knocking down the walls with guest artists including John Anderson and Travis Tritt. The audience was probably the drunkest and loudest I’ve ever seen a Ryman crowd be. What a night. He went out in style in Nashville. Waylon R.I.P.

2. News from the back yard: I’m putting together an all-new recipe for smoked baby-back ribs, which should be ready soon. Last summer’s acclaimed rib recipe is still available in the Skyline archive.

Meanwhile, here it is practically midsummer already and nature’s bounty is ripening in your garden. Besides eating all that good stuff, you should also drink some of it. Here are a few tasty summer garden drinks made all the better with fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • The vodka watermelon. Take a medium sized fresh watermelon and cut two plugs in it on top, each about the circumference of a liquor bottle’s neck. One plughole is for pouring and one is for air. Take a 750 ml bottle of vodka from your freezer — where vodka should always live — and upend it into one of the plugholes. After all the vodka has drained into the melon, return the plugs to the holes. Let the melon rest for a while on a bed of ice. Slice it open, invite everyone to dig in, and have plenty of soft places for the eaters to later fall onto or recline upon. Soundtrack: “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine” by Tom T. Hall, “Watermelon Crawl” by Tracy Byrd.
  • Watermelon martini. A very simple recipe. Put slices of chilled fresh de-seeded and rindless watermelon into your juicer. Add vodka to taste, along with a little lime juice. Strain into a martini glass and enjoy. Add a small melon slice and maybe a cucumber slice for garnish. Soundtrack: “Watermelon Time in Georgia” by Lefty Frizzell, “Watermelon Man” by Mongo Santamaria or Herbie Hancock, “Watermelon on the Vine” by the Stanley Brothers.
  • A garden-fresh Bloody Mary. Tomatoes, as you undoubtedly know, are classified not as vegetables but as fruits by dictionaries. That’s because they have seeds, unlike such vegetables as radishes, celery, carrots, lettuce and the like. Then, that also classifies as fruits such foods as pepper, avocado, cucumber and zucchini. Many sources label all these as fruit-vegetables. So be it. It all makes for some damn good eating and drinking. Pick some of your ripe red tomatoes and wash and slice them up. Put them in your juicer with celery stalks, ice cubes, a little horseradish and Tabasco and maybe a dash of chili powder and lemon juice. Pour over vodka and ice. Enjoy. Soundtrack: “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark.
  • Cucumber-Tini. Take three or four slices of fresh cucumber and mash them up in a mortar and pestle. Throw them into a cocktail shaker. Add a couple of shots of vodka and some amount of vermouth to your taste, along with shaved ice. Shake and then pour into a cold martini glass, with a couple of slices of cuke for garnish. Soundtrack: There are few cucumber songs whose lyrics are suitable for citing on a family-friendly Web site.
  • Peach cocktails: Put peeled and de-seeded peaches into your juicer and blend with chilled Prosecco to taste. Soundtrack: “When It’s Peach Picking Time in Georgia” by Jimmie Rodgers, Eat a Peach by the Allman Brothers Band, “Peaches” by Captain Beefheart.