HOT DISH: Taylor Wows the Alligators and Crocs in L.A.

More News About Brad Paisley, Jamey Johnson, Montgomery Gentry 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.)

By now, most of the folks in the good old U.S.A. have heard about the sold-out Taylor Swift tour with special guests Kellie Pickler and Gloriana. A well-Taylored lineup, I must say. The show at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where gators and crocs from the media lie in wait to eat Nashville stars alive, brought shocking reviews — all positive!

One critic wrote that Taylor’s fans trust her like a peer. (We knew that.) Another gave her a thumbs up, saying she writes smart lyrics. (We knew that, too.) And the fact that Taylor invited John Mayer onstage was a smart move on the teenager’s part. The two performed his “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and her “White Horse.” The pairing came off so great, nobody could write a bad word about that performance.

I’ve heard that some people on the West Coast are referring to her as Tay-Tay. What is this Tay-Tay crap? Is this another cutesy nickname Hollywood has made up to try and make our girl look like something she’s not? California, don’t try to change Taylor Swift. Yes, she was born in Pennsylvania, but she’s lived in Tennessee, north of Nashville in Hendersonville, since she was 10 years old. She is one of us.

I’m hearing great stuff from the tour about Kellie and Gloriana, too, which is even more good news. After all, they are country music’s tomorrow.

Brad Paisley Shares Story Behind New Son’s Name
Have you been wondering why Brad Paisley named his son Jasper Warren Paisley? I know because Brad called me and told me. Before the baby’s birth, Brad and his wife, Kim, knew they were going to have a son. They never found out in advance if their first child, Huck, was a boy or girl, but they wanted to know about baby No. 2. After learning they were going to have another boy, Kim dreamed of a son named Jasper. When she told Brad about her dream, he said, “Jasper. That’s his name.” Since she had dreamed Jasper, that’s what Brad thought the name should be.

The middle name, Warren, is Brad’s late granddad’s name. He’s the one who bought Brad his first guitar. The young boy and the old man would sit on the back porch of his mountain home and play guitars. As a matter of fact, Brad thought about naming Huck for his granddad. At the time, Kim wasn’t really crazy over the name, Warren, so they went with William Huckleberry and planned to call him Will. Upon seeing the beautiful baby boy for the first time, it was Kim’s Hollywood pals who began calling him Huck. And he’s remained Huck ever since.

Brad has just completed his next album, American Saturday Night, set for June 30 release.

“I’m really, really happy with the record,” Brad said. “I want you to hear it.”

We talked about driving around Nashville in his truck listening to his new music, just like we’ve done in the past. When he’s ready, I’m ready.

His American Saturday Night tour with Dierks Bentley and Jimmy Wayne kicks off Friday (June 5) in Charlotte, N.C., and Brad will appear on the CMT Music Awards on June 16 live from Nashville. Fans can vote online at CMT.com through June 14 to determine the winners.

When I asked if he expected to win any of the CMT trophies, Brad said, “You never can tell about something like that. Fan voting is hard to tell.”

I told him his video of “Waitin’ on a Woman” with Andy Griffith is one of my all-time favorites.

“Andy Griffith,” Brad whispered. “What a guy.”

Brad just scored his 10th No. 1 in a row with “Then,” the first single from his upcoming album. In all, Brad has amassed 14 No 1 singles.

As I anxiously await the arrival of Brad’s new CD, word was leaked to me about one of the original tracks, “The Future,” and a reprise titled “Back to the Future.” This song is close to Brad’s heart, so I was told by someone who knows.

Look for Brad to perform during the Good Morning America‘s summer concert series on July 3. He’ll also appear on Regis and Kelly the same day.

Jamey Johnson’s Songs Are a Gift
I got a lot of comments from readers regarding last week’s Hot Dish column. Thanks to each and everyone who took time to write.

To the person who asked if I’m wild over Jamey Johnson‘s singing and songwriting, I can only tell you that the first time I heard “In Color,” I had to pull off of the road and stop. That song was dropped down from above to Jamey as a gift for all of us to hear. I wept.

Just recently, 300 people attended his gold album party in Nashville. About a month ago, two of my friends, Gina and Eugene, saw Jamey perform on a songwriters stage in Key West, Fla., and he blew them away. They called me to rave about him. Gina was still teary. “He’s the best that ever was,” she assured me.

Montgomery Gentry Becoming Opry Members
Montgomery Gentry were surprised onstage at the Grand Ole Opry last week when their friend, Charlie Daniels, approached them from the audience and walked down the aisle and onto the stage. “I have been chosen to do something very special,” said Charlie. “I’ve known you guys for a long time, and I’m proud of you. If you agree to it, on June 23, you’re gonna be made members of the Grand Ole Opry.” Troy Gentry was speechless. As for Eddie Montgomery … well … he had to borrow Charlie’s red bandana to wipe away his tears.

Steve Wariner Plans Concert Honoring His Mentor
Steve Wariner will perform a benefit concert for the Chet Atkins Music Education Fund on July 7 at the Loveless Barn in Nashville. The concert will feature songs from Steve’s upcoming CD, Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins. Chet, who died in 2001, started the fund in 1997 to ensure that there would always be money available for promising students to pursue musical training.

Keith Urban Provides a “Kiss”
Keith Urban‘s “Kiss a Girl” music video made its world exclusive debut last week on iTunes and will be available on CMT on Tuesday (June 2). Keith explained that he and songwriter Monty Powell collaborate a lot and that Monty had come up with the song title. “We don’t usually write from titles, but I loved this one the first time I heard it,” Keith explained. “Even if you’ve been in a relationship for a lot of years, it’s imperative to remember that spark.”

Screaming for Kenny Chesney
My niece, Lisa, called from Greenville, S.C., screaming like she’d won the lottery. She was so excited because she had attended a backstage meet-and-greet at Kenny Chesney‘s concert. “Best show in the world,” she yelled. “Kenny is the greatest. He’s the only artist who truly loves his fans like we love him. He’s the best. He cares.”

George Strait Tribute Hits the Mark
George Strait: ACM Artist of the Decade All Star Concert, which ran last week on CBS, was one of the finest television specials ever. George is the king of finding hits and singing them. “Living for the Night,” the debut single from his upcoming album, was released to radio stations last week. The album, Twang, will be released this fall.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Cheesy Cheese Ball.