HOT DISH: Kenny Chesney Books ‘Em With Latest Tour Keepsake

Palin Calls Hank Jr., Miley Meets Mickey, World Looks to Nashville During Debate

(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 hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at

All My Friends Are Pirates: Kenny Chesney Poets and Pirates 2008 is the title of a marvelous “yearbook” that contains 225 pages of color photographs that follow the star and his pals while on tour this year. Talk about a village, it takes an army to keep him on the road. The band, the crew, bus drivers, truck drivers, merchandisers, roadies, production crew, caterers, management, opening acts and assorted guests are in the book that Kenny compiles as a keepsake for those who are close to him and the tour.

There’s great snapshots of Kenny and friends working and playing. It is a classy coffee table book. Let me tell you when I got to page 149, I let out a great big hillbilly yell when I saw my face among a group that included staff members from Kenny’s record label and publishing company, along with executives from the Grand Ole Opry and CMT. I am humbly proud of the book and that photo. Thanks, Kenny, and double thanks for the music and for staying humble, good and kind. Kenny, I love you and am honored to be your friend.

Sarah Palin Calls Bocephus
It took a week for her to track him down, but vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin finally spoke with Hank Williams Jr. on a cell phone. Right off the bat, Sarah told Hank that she had all his albums. “Huge fan,” she said. She also told him that she’d appreciate any help he could give her and Sen. John McCain.

“I hunt moose,” said Sarah.

“I hunt moose, too,” he replied. “I have a house in Montana.”

The vice presidential candidate and the country star agreed to hang out and do some moose hunting together. In the meantime, Hank will be performing Monday (Oct. 13) in Virginia Beach, Va., to open a rally featuring McCain and Palin.

Give a Listen to “Muddy Water”
Do yourself a huge favor and give a listen to “Muddy Water” by Trace Adkins. It may do your heart good. It did mine. By the way that’s real-life preacher, actor Stephan Baldwin, who got baptized in the video with Trace. The two became close friends after meeting during their tenure on The Celebrity Apprentice.

Politically Correct?
Josh Turner attended the presidential debate that took place last week at Belmont University in Nashville, so that makes it a country music news item. But in watching the debate on TV, it makes me wonder what it means to be politically correct. If it’s John McCain and Barack Obama shooting off at the mouth and slamming each other instead of telling the American voters what they would do if elected to clean up this mess our country is in, then I am proud to say I am politically incorrect. I also watched as the candidates’ wives — Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama — shook hands with their husbands’ opponents. I thought to myself, if that was me, I would not be smiling like those women. Why, I might just have to haul off and sing, “You ain’t man enough to beat my man.”

Another thing: We’ve got the best poets in the universe right here in Music Town, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why someone hasn’t already written a song about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sleeping together! Maybe along the lines of “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed.” Now, Wall Street might make somebody rich with a song like that.

Or, hey, maybe have the Democrats and Republicans hold hands across the aisle in Congress while singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

Belmont University and Alumni Make International News
From the head of Music Row — or is it the foot? — sits Belmont University, the site of the Oct. 7 presidential debate between McCain and Obama. This fine school of learning was seen around the world as we sat like mummies while not a word was said about the Parthenon in Nashville or the Grand Ole Opry.

However, on Oct. 5, Belmont alums Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, Josh Turner and Julie Roberts did us proud when they performed at the Ryman Auditorium for an invitation-only crowd that included national media in town to cover the debate. The four country artists were joined by Darius Rucker, who had the No. 1 single and album in the nation, as well as Bob Schieffer the great CBS newsman and host of Face the Nation. Schieffer, a Texan and a genuine fan of country music since childhood, writes songs and performs with his band wherever he’s allowed. On this auspicious occasion, Schieffer wore a cowboy hat three sizes too small which allowed him to resemble Woody, the animated character in the movie, Toy Story.

The very next night, Trisha and hubby Garth Brooks surprised the audience when they joined Jerry Douglas for his final artist-in-residence concert at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Speaking of Trisha, you’ll want to watch her and her sweet mama, Gwen Yearwood, on CMT Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith on Nov. 9. I cooked from Trisha’s cookbook, Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen. We had loads of fun tasting and talking.

Alan Jackson to Be Honored on CMT Giants
CMT is set to honor one of the greatest traditional singer-songwriters in country music when CMT Giants: Alan Jackson is taped live at the Ryman Auditorium on Oct. 30. Among the superstars paying tribute are George Strait, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift, Lee Ann Womack and Miranda Lambert. Did you know Big Alan wrote 23 of his 33 No. 1 songs?

Miley Celebrates With Mickey
The tabloids try to tie Miley Cyrus with hot guys. However, when Disneyland took over her 16th birthday celebration and closed the park, more than 5,000 people paid $250 a ticket to attend. There was no boyfriend in sight, so we can assume that Miley and Mickey Mouse hung together. Her daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus, performed at the amusement park before Miley sang four songs. Fireworks were displayed above the Sleeping Beauty Castle during the super-sized soiree. With all that, Miley’s birthday isn’t until Nov. 23.

Ambassador Parton
Dolly Parton will serve as the ambassador for the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 62-year-old Parton grew up in the foothills of the Smokies in Sevier County in East Tennessee.

A Kiss All Over Nashville
Gene Simmons, from the rock band Kiss, has been seen all over Nashville while filming his reality TV show. He showed no interest in politicians parading up and down lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, but he did take the cameras into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and, like several politicos, laid plastic down at the Palm restaurant.

Daddy Dierks
Dierks Bentley and his lovely wife Cassidy named their 7-pound, 10-ounce daughter Evalyn “Evie” Day Bentley. Proud daddy Dierks was up all night with Cassidy giving birth, and his Music & Miles for Kids motorcycle ride and concert benefiting the Monroe Carrell Jr.’s Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt was the next day. Around 1,200 cyclists joined Dierks for the ride and concert that featured superstars Tim McGraw, John Rich, Jamey Johnson and a bevy of others. The event raised more than $250,000.

Short and to the Point
Congratulations to Kellie Pickler, whose self-titled BNA sophomore album debuted at No. 1 on the country album charts.

Taylor Swift will perform in Australia during the CMC Rocks Festival taking place the March 6-7.

Trent Willmon and Ray Scott joined Mark Wills on his fifth concert tour of Iraq.

Kenny Chesney’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” goes No. 1.

Blake Shelton’s fifth album, Startin’ Fires, hits stores Nov. 18.

Clay Walker presented a check for $25,000 to Vanderbilt Hospital following a bike ride sponsored by his nonprofit organization, Band Against MS.

Sarah Buxton has delivered her new single, “Space,” to radio.

The Jordanaires, who have harmonized with ElvisElvis, George Jones, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette, will be honored Oct. 25 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Toby Keith’s movie, Beer for My Horses, is set to premiere Nov. 2 on CMT and will be released on DVD on Nov. 11.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Sour Cream Potato Salad.