HOT DISH: Dierks Bentley Keeps Family in Mind During His Hot Career

More News About Tim McGraw, John Rich, Randy Houser and Others

(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 CMT.com.)

Have you heard Dierks Bentley‘s latest, fastest rising single, “Feel That Fire”? If you don’t feel the heat when you hear that song or view that video, baby, you are dead and ready to be gone forever. Dierks is hot!

Dierks is looking fine these days and, as usual, his plate is full and running over. Just last week, he flew to Oslo, Norway, to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert. From there, he’s flying directly to Phoenix, where wife Cassidy, daughter Evie, his parents and his in-laws await to celebrate Christmas.

Seven-week-old Evie has had some sniffles, so Dierks and Cassidy decided it would be best that the baby stay off of airplanes for the time being. So his mom-in-law will fly to Music Town to meet up with Cassidy and the baby. Dierks’ on-staff bus driver will then drive the girls from Nashville to Phoenix. Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

I so admire the way Dierks includes his family in the holidays. Remember a couple of Decembers ago when Dierks and Cassidy eloped to Mexico — and invited their parents? Then they honeymooned during the rest of the holidays in Colorado with both families. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than this.

January will be here before we know it, and Dierks will be opening shows for Brad Paisley for a couple of months. Also in January, you can see Dierks in my kitchen during CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks. Feb. 4 is the date his new album will be released. Later in the year, Dierks will open shows for Keith Urban and will be headlining his own dates, as well. Busy Dierks remains the hardest working man in country music.

If you sense I have a special affinity for Dierks, I do. He is one of the most talented guys on the country roster. And he’s one of the nicest and, by far, the cutest one out there. I was so honored to have him in my kitchen.

Randy Houser’s Not Talking About 2009
What’s coming up in 2009 for Randy Houser? He ain’t saying yet. It’s set, but it ain’t signed. And when a boy is from Mississippi, the deal must be inked to be legally linked.

Speaking of the Mississippi lad, his first success in Music Town was co-writing “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” with Alabama-born Jamey Johnson and Georgia-born Dallas Davidson. Country music has never been the same, and neither has singer Trace Adkins‘ career since hitting with that song.

Deep in Jack Daniel’s, the threesome were in downtown Nashville at the Wildhorse Saloon, heavily imbibing and watching a few heavy female butts go by when Johnson pointed to one of the dancers and allowed, “Her hiney looks like she’s got a 21-inch TV set in her britches.” At that point, Houser added, “It’s a honky-tonk badonkadonk.” So there was the title. Drunk but still awake, they knew they had a winning idea. So they wrote it.

Houser’s current single and new album are both titled “Anything Goes.” It was the song that landed Houser an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman. Like a whole passel of movie stars, actors and other famous folks, Letterman has property in Montana. That’s where he was when he heard “Anything Goes” on the radio and got in touch with his people in New York to find Houser and book him on the show. Houser told me he was driving when he got a text message that read: “Get ready to perform ‘Anything Goes’ on Letterman.”

“Man, I thought it was a joke,” said Houser between bites of beef hash on biscuits while taping an upcoming episode of CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks. He’s looking forward to the upcoming tour and to all the other wonderful things that happen with a career. After eating my cooking, he wants to meet my nieces. One bite of stewed tomatoes, why, he even put his feet up!

Tim McGraw in Film and Political Spotlight
Why do you think Four Christmases was the top money-making movie for two consecutive weeks? I’m telling you, it’s one week for Tim McGraw and one week for Dwight Yoakam. Of course, Nashvillian Reese Witherspoon being thrown into the movie for good measure didn’t hurt one thing. Maybe, just maybe, Hollywood will learn a thing or two from this outing.

Speaking of Tim, the New Republic allows the singer is serious about running for Tennessee governor on the Democratic ticket in the next election. Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist looks like a possible Republican candidate, but there’s not a strong Democrat contender, so Tim may just be the man. His wife, Faith Hill, sure would make a good-looking first lady, but Tim has grown accustomed to making a lot more money than the governor’s salary in Tennessee.

The First Lady and the Two Georges
First lady Laura Bush sat between the two Georges — her husband, President George Bush, and country music’s all-time king, George Jones — during the recent Kennedy Center Honors concert in Washington, D.C. She wasted no words when she described her love of Jones’ country songs, admitting that both she and the president have been longtime fans.

The cream of country music’s crop — Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson — performed some of Jones’ hits, followed by Garth Brooks‘ medley that included “White Lightning.” Brooks allowed, “Simply the greatest voice to ever sing country music — George Jones.” Travis said Jones was the biggest influence he’d ever known, and Jones has always been Alan’s favorite singer. Shelby Lynne closed the segment with Jones’ favorite song, “Amazing Grace,” and was joined onstage by Travis, Paisley, Brooks, Jackson and Laura Bush.

John Rich Weds
I wonder how many people in the music business knew John Rich had been dating former model Joan Bush, owner of First Class Models in Houston, for five years? I must say, it’s good to see John’s name in positive headlines for a change. Hopefully, the marriage will keep him out of the bars and in the arms of his wife. Lord knows, this is a much healthier lifestyle. By the way, John says he and Big Kenny Alphin will begin touring again as Big & Rich in June 2009.

Classic Songs Being Added to Grammy Hall of Fame
The Grammy Hall of Fame will induct 28 recordings in February. Included are Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys’ “Mule Skinner Blues” (1940), Roy Acuff and the Crazy Tennesseans’ “Great Speckled Bird” (1936) and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans‘ signature song, “Happy Trails” (1952).

For all of you know-it-alls, please look at the date of Monroe’s inducted song. It’s 1940, six years before he hired Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to play in his Blue Grass Boys band. This is historic proof the bluegrass man truly is Bill Monroe.

More News and Notes
Congratulations to Montgomery Gentry on their No. 1 single, “Roll With Me.”

The hottest CRS New Faces Show in my memory will occur in Nashville on March 6 with Lady Antebellum, James Otto, Kellie Pickler, Chuck Wicks and the Zac Brown Band. All these acts are killer good!

Don’t ask me how Taylor Swift can perform on New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square, where the Jonas Brothers are playing, too. Before I’d hang with Joe Jonas, I’d go out into the crowd with Kellie Pickler, who will be filing live reports during the television show. Taylor can trust her pal, Kellie, but not the Jonas named Joe.

Jake Owen is set to release Easy Does It, his second album, on Feb. 24.

When Toby Keith filmed the movie Beer for My Horses in New Mexico, he became friends with Gov. Bill Richardson, who has just been nominated for secretary of commerce in the Obama administration. That makes two pals Toby has in the new White House — Richardson and retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones Jr., who is the president elect’s nominee for national security adviser.

Tune into CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks on Sunday (Dec. 21) when Emerson Drive visits my home during the featured film, Something to Talk About. It’s airing at 8:20 p.m. ET/PT, so make note of the special time.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Black-Eyed Peas.