HOT DISH: Hank Williams Jr. Connects With One of Father’s Friends

More News About Miley Cyrus, Reba McEntire, Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw 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

When Hank Williams Jr. received a letter from a 93-year-old woman living in a nursing home in Florala, Ala., he read it very carefully. The lady wrote to tell him she’d like to talk with him. Such letters are probably not that uncommon for country music artists, but she said she knew his late father and that she might be able to tell him some things he didn’t know about his dad.

After talking to the administrators at the nursing home, he asked to speak with the lady. Following their initial conversation, he was convinced that she did, in fact, know his dad. He got his plane gassed up and headed for Florala. And he was not disappointed.

The lady had so much great information about the late country music legend, Hank Jr. called the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, advising them to send someone to Florala to interview the woman who, without a doubt, was acquainted with his dad.

Hank Jr. was very impressed with the lady and everything she shared with him. And since he happened to bring his guitar to the nursing home, he tuned it up, found a stool to sit on and performed for the 80-plus patients who reside there. After an hour or so, he ended his impromptu show on an appropriate note by singing “The Last Drifting Cowboy,” a song he’d written about his father.

America Catches Cyrus Virus
Hannah Montana: The Movie had the biggest opening day box office gross in history for a G-rated live action movie. It brought in $34 million during its opening weekend. Miley Cyrus’s latest single, “The Climb,” now boasts 900,000 downloads. Between her achievements and the success her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, is enjoying with his “Back to Tennessee” single, the whole country is getting exposed to the Cyrus virus, and it’s a very good thing. We need more dads like Billy Ray who raise their children to respect their elders.

After I wrote the above paragraph, I read in the newspaper where Jamie Foxx was talking on his satellite radio show and went into a rant about Miley, eventually saying, “Make a sex tape and grow up.” Hello? Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus are well known and greatly respected in country music — a genre that welcomes people from other entertainment genres. Heck, Foxx who appeared on the recent ACM Awards in Las Vegas. For him to be blabbing things like “Who is Miley Cyrus?” is ridiculous. He has since offered a public apology for his remarks, but those derogatory comments shouldn’t have been said in the first place.

Reba and Dierks See Serious Chart Action
Reba McEntire’s new single, “Strange,” was the most-added song to country radio stations’ playlists last week. With 63 stations already providing major airplay, the track entered the Billboard country singles chart at No. 39 — her highest solo debut ever. “Strange” is her first single for the Valory Music Co. label, and Reba says she’s thrilled with her new team there. Label chief Scott Borchetta has Reba on Valory and Taylor Swift on the sister label, Big Machine. Those are two hot women.

And leave it to Dierks Bentley to come through with “Sideways,” the fastest-rising song of his career. Out only five weeks, it’s already in the Top 20. Dierks invited fans to the video shoot, and they brought killer energy to the production. Wait until you see break dancing to a country song. Only Dierks would so dare — and he does it sideways.

Tim McGraw Co-Starring Alongside Sandra Bullock
Tim McGraw is set to co-star with Sandra Bullock in the upcoming film, The Blind Side. Shooting begins at the end of this month is Atlanta. The film is based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling novel, The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game, and tells the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American teen taken in by a wealthy white family. Tim will play patriarch Sean Touhy, husband of Bullock’s character.

Keith Urban, Faith Hill Help Big Kenny’s Charity Work
Nashville4Africa, a star-studded affair hosted by Big & Rich of Big & Rich, will take place Wednesday (April 22) at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. The concert will feature superstars such as Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley and Martina McBride along with the African Children’s Choir and many others.

Toby Keith Still Working for the Troops
Toby Keith is making another trip to the Middle East to visit with U.S. troops and perform a series of concerts during a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour. He’s scheduled to touch down on more than 11 small, remote operating bases where he will shake hands with newly-deployed troops and perform 17 shows in 11 days. On Tuesday (April 21) in Washington, D.C., Toby will be recognized by the Military Officers Association of America for his ongoing support of the troops and their families.

Guitarist Jody Payne Leaves Willie Nelson’s Touring Band
I read in Willie Nelson’s wonderful fan club newsletter that Jody Payne is no longer on the road with Willie and his band. Sounds like Jody must have some health issues. I cannot remember how many years Jody’s been out there with Willie, but he always seemed to be there. Whatever transpires, here’s sending prayers and good wishes to all the music makers out there on the road, especially Willie and his crew, who never stop.

That’s Dann — With Two N’s
If you’ve applauded Martina McBride’s Shine, Keith Urban’s Defying Gravity or Rascal FlattsUnstoppable, friend, you can give some of the credit to Dann Huff — with two n’s. He produced all three of these recent albums that are hanging around the top of the charts. Some folks are just finding out what I learned when this guitar god and perfecto producer was just 18 years old. Not many turned out as nice as Dann. His sweet daddy, Ronn Huff, produced gospel music and could have a lot to do with his son’s incredible talent.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Strawberry Cake