HOT DISH: I Found New Friends in the Lost Trailers

Country Music Stakes Its Claim on American Idol and Dancing With the Stars

(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

Bands are happening again in a big way in country music. One of the best, the Lost Trailers, has been making music since their high school days. Ryder Lee and Stokes Nielson actually met in a church band. They’ve blazed their way through honky-tonks, joints, roadhouses, night clubs and, finally, concert halls while gaining momentum and picking up fans with every song they’ve sung.

The five-piece band dropped by my kitchen for CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks to talk about their Top 10 hit, “Holler Back,” their album of the same title and their chart- climbing single, “How ’Bout You Don’t.” No nicer band ever said howdy to me and mine. This is the first act to call later in the day to thank me for the food I fed them and for having them on the TV show. I won’t be forgetting that.

Sony Music A&R maven Renee Bell took the group to label chairman Joe Galante who signed them after seeing the same road-tested talent and passionate drive that Alabama had brought to the company 25 years earlier. The first songs Ryder and Stokes performed in front of an audience had been made famous by their role model, Alabama.

Because of the economy, these days the band flies to their concerts. And when they finish performing, they leave money to thank the fans and promoters for having them in their town. Please know that Ryder had to explain this to me twice. Then it hit me: all-American guys doing their part to help home folks.

In the beginning, the band called themselves Ryder Stokes, but after they had three trailers loaded with band equipment stolen from them, they became The Lost Trailers. It makes all the sense in the world. The group will open for Rodney Atkins in the months ahead.

Country Counts on Dancing With the Stars
Did real-life honeys Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough have any effect on the debut ratings of the new season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars? Maybe so. The show scored its highest ratings ever with viewership topping 23 million. Once again, country stars draw the fans.

During one of the rehearsals, Julianne’s strapless gown slid down revealing that she did not have on her pasties. You can hear her explanation in the video blog she made for

Chuck was asked about how he could dance so well with Ms. Hough. His reply, “Pelvis to pelvis.”

American Idol Goes Country for a Week
American Idol goes country this week when they bring Grand Ole Opry stars Brad Paisley, Randy Travis and Idol’s biggest winner, Carrie Underwood, back to their stage Tuesday and Wednesday (March 17-18). For the first time on television, Brad will debut his latest single, “Then.” Carrie and Randy will perform “I Told You So,” her current single that’s a cover of the classic he wrote and recorded. Randy will serve as mentor for the contestants. Idol must’ve been listening when I’d tell them, “More country!”

ASCAP helped the wonderful Dierks Bentley celebrate during a big party for his latest No. 1 single, “Feel That Fire.” Dierks co-wrote, co-produced, published and performed the hit.

BMI hosted a celebration for Blake Shelton for his No. 1, “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” written by Jennifer Adan and Cory Batten. It’s the songwriters’ first No. 1 single.

ASCAP celebrated the No. 1 success of “Down the Road” by Kenny Chesney and Mac McAnally. As many hit songs as Mac has written, this was his first time to sing on a No. 1 single.

Kenny Chesney Rolls Out the Keg
Kenny Chesney first rolled his latest Keg in the Closet tour of clubs in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Jupiter Bar and Grill. Then he rolled ’em out right here in Music Town filling up the Exit/In wall to wall with college girls. Kenny and his guests Brad Paisley and Mark Collie played and partied four hours. By the middle of the week, Kenny was performing another club gig in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Free Shows at CMA Music Festival
Did you see where the 2009 CMA Music Festival will present more than 30 hours of free music in June? Now, the nightly shows will cost you. For four days at the festival, you’ll have to fork out at least $110, but some stars charge that much for just one show. The first performers announced for the nightly concerts at LP Field are Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Julianne Hough. Trace is for sure the tallest one there! The festival takes place June 11-14 in downtown Nashville.

Randy Houser’s Safe but Shaken
Randy Houser and a bunch of execs from the William Morris Agency and Pat Green’s management company were on a private jet heading from Nashville to Birmingham, Ala., when they heard a loud thump. As the plane leaned left, the pilot announced, “Going back to Nashville.” They landed safely, removed a bird from an engine and headed back to Birmingham. Houser and Green played a sold-out show that night.

Sara Evans Becomes Novelist
Having signed a four-book deal with Thomas Nelson, the Nashville-based book publisher, platinum-selling Sara Evans will publish her debut novel later this year. She is currently in the studio and will perform some tour dates later this year. Sara’s fans will find much to enjoy from the inspirational fiction series.

Rascal Flatts in Reader’s Digest
Rascal Flatts’ fans will be interested to know that an interview with lead vocalist Gary LeVox is featured in the April issue of Reader’s Digest The article tells about Gary’s grandmother who would not allow him and cousin Jay DeMarcus to listen to the music of the Kinks, but Merle Haggard’s country music met her approval. Funny to me, Gary’s grandmother and my six grandkids’ grandmother both feel the same way.

Dolly Sweepstakes
Now’s your chance to win a trip to for two to New York City to see 9 to 5: The Musical on Broadway. Cracker Barrel and are presenting a sweepstakes to celebrate the release of a special collectors edition of Dolly’s latest CD, Backwoods Barbie. The winner receives airfare for two to New York, two nights accommodations, spending money and two tickets to see the show.

Major Losses in Country Music
When I opened my newspaper recently, it took my breath away. Three country music obituaries in one day.

Cecil Scaife worked with Sun Records and Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tenn., and he also managed an all-girl radio station in Palm Beach, Fla. He served on President Nixon’s council to combat drug abuse in the entertainment industry. He had a hand in the beginning of the Gospel Music Association and the Country Music Association. Sending love and condolences to Cecil’s son — my friend, record producer and recording engineer Joe Scaife.

Irby Mandrell, father and manager of the Mandrell sisters, passed away with family and close friends around his bed. A few weeks earlier, Irby had attended the event announcing daughter Barbara’s impending induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Irby is survived by his wife of 61 years, the kind and beautiful Mary, who was always by his side. Sending love and sympathy to Mary and the girls.

The 66-year-old John Sturdivant, son-in-law of Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright was another obituary of note. Married to the Wright’s daughter, Sue, the well-known Sturdivant was an executive in the music business. Deepest sympathy to his wife and children.

They say bad news comes in threes, but a day later, country music experienced another significant loss when the legendary Hank Locklin died at his home in Brewton, Ala. The 91-year-old star of the Grand Ole Opry was best known for his hits, “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On” and “Please Help Me, I’m Falling.” Love and condolences to his son — my friend Hank Adam Locklin.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chess Pie.