(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.)
When Jo Dee Messina dropped by my kitchen to tape CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks last month, she brought one song for me to hear. I have to tell you, when she played “That’s God,” I had to hold back the tears. At the time, the folks at her label, Curb Records, had not heard the song. I told her they needed to hear it.
“I’m going by there when we leave here,” she assured me. She told me she’d co-written the song with band member Brent Rader.
Jo Dee apparently played “That’s God” at Curb because I’m now told it will be sent to radio in January. Her new album, Unmistakable, which contains the single, is scheduled for a spring release. Jo Dee thinks this album will show fans a different side of her.
“I’ve never recorded straightforward love songs before,” she said with a big smile. “I’m not known for that.”
Jo Dee, honey, like I told you, before now you’ve never loved another man enough to marry him, and you’ve never had a child before.
“There’s new love in your heart and in your home,” I said. And I do believe I spoke the truth.
You can see Jo Dee on CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks this Sunday (Nov. 8) at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET/PT. The movie is Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.
Joe Nichols’ Good News
Word that Joe Nichols has partnered with TheHopeLine.com to help people struggling with addictions is the best news I’ve heard all year. If you’ve heard Joe’s current single, “An Old Friend of Mine,” from his just-released CD, Old Things New, you will understand that the single was the inspiration for the partnership.
The fact that Joe can — and will — stand up and sing that song without shame or fear and with a deep heartfelt conviction could be what it takes to help someone on their journey to overcome addiction. Maybe they, too, can reach the point of utter concern for their life and manage to live without their old friend — booze, drugs or whatever they’re struggling with.
If you have difficulty in your life, listen to Joe’s song and try to understand there is hope. TheHopeLine wants to help reach, rescue and restore those individuals as they find their way to recovery.
By the way, on a different topic, I do love Joe’s haircut.
Meet Luke McBain
Luke McBain #1, the first issue in a four-part comic book series, arrives on Nov. 11. The main character is inspired by Trace Adkins‘ likeness and personality. Comic book writer David Tischman and 12 Gauge Comics publisher Keven Gardner spent time with Trace to make the role more authentic — full of Southern charm and hard-hitting action that’s been compared to films such as Walking Tall and Billy Jack. The storyline has to do with Luke spending 14 years in prison for a crime he did not commit and then uncovering his brother’s misdeeds at the family’s business in Louisiana.
Jimmy Wayne’s “Smile”
Jimmy Wayne has his dream lined up. His new single, “Sara Smile,” originally written and recorded by Hall & Oates, will land on the store shelves about the same time the turkey hits the oven. Jimmy says he’s been singing the song for 13 years — including when he worked as a prison guard in North Carolina. When he sang it for record company executive Scott Borchetta, he got a recording contract. Producer Dann Huff captured the feel Jimmy wanted for the recording sessions. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Hall & Oates are singing background vocals on Jimmy’s track.
Jimmy was down in Columbia, Tenn., last week to shoot a video for “Sara Smile” in the same warehouse where the photos were taken for his latest CD.
Tim McGraw on the Charts and the Road
It looks like Tim McGraw is leaving his girls at home when he sets out on a tour with Lady Antebellum that will run Feb. 11-Aug. 15. With dates being planned in 57 cities, the Lost Trailers will open the shows until April 19, and then Love and Theft will open the remaining appearances.
By the way, I got all bent out of shape at Entertainment Weekly‘s review of Tim’s new album, Southern Voice. They had the good sense to quote several killer lines that can be composed only by the songwriters in Nashville. But part of the lengthy piece was like ice water thrown in your face on a sub-zero morning. The reviewer wrote, “Alas, what often feels missing here is something unique to McGraw himself. Consistency and supreme competence aside, Voice seems to tell every story but his own.”
Listen, I was on these streets before Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift were born, and I can tell you right now, Tim recorded what he knew was needed on his album — songs that fit Southern Voice. The first week out, the album topped the country chart. It don’t get no better than that.
Garth Sells Out First Las Vegas Dates
All you doubting Thomases and Thomasinas, just read the Las Vegas news. Tickets to Garth‘s first series of concerts at the Wynn Las Vegas are gone. Sold out. All of you who said the man could not sell tickets are wrong as you can be — again. Ticket scalpers are trying to capitalize on the situation, but all that can be done to prevent scalping is being done. Those first tickets went like hotcakes, and he could have easily sold twice that number during the same day. FOG — Fans of Garth — are a loyal bunch. You know what? Garth still is the all-time megastar of country music.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Larry
I can almost smell pine and cedar and hear the fireplace crackling with burning wood. Of course, we’ll have a big Halloween and a bigger Thanksgiving at our house before the home fires start burning for Christmas. One thing that’s got me all cranked up for the holidays is Larry the Cable Guy‘s Hula-Palooza Christmas Luau holiday special that premieres Nov. 20 on CMT. The 90-minute show features Kenan Thompson from Saturday Night Live, funny gal Caroline Rhea, Goober Lindsey from The Andy Griffith Show, Jon Reep (one of the funniest guys to ever call Hickory, N.C., home), Two Foot Fred and Tony Orlando. Both Billy Currington and the Zac Brown Band will perform. The special will be available on DVD beginning Nov. 24.
I really like Justin Moore. His single, “Small Town USA,” hit No. 1, so Justin and co-writers Brian Maher and Jeremy Stover celebrated during a party at BMI’s offices in Nashville. Give us Moore Justin. To know him is to want Moore.
Jake Owen is doing his part to promote this year’s CMA Awards show telecast by hosting ABC.com’s daily Webisode series, The Countdown to Music City’s Biggest Night. The series kicks off Wednesday (Nov. 4) and runs through Nov. 12.
Craig Morgan and Chris Young recently embarked on a tour to entertain our armed forces in the Middle East and Europe. Let me mention that Young’s new single, “The Man I Want to Be,” is one of the finest songs I’ve heard in a long time. This could very well be the song that puts Chris in the mainstream, which is where he deserves to be.
Alan Jackson Collection
Alan Jackson is scheduled to make a Monday morning (Nov. 2) visit to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., to launch his very own Alan Jackson Collection that’s being sold throughout the restaurant chain. The collection includes 41 items in all, including T-shirts, Resistol hats, clothing for women and men and a new cookbook. Alan, a country boy from down in Newnan, Ga., was raised by a mom who baked cornbread, made biscuits and seasoned vegetables the country way. He preferred cobblers, cakes and pies baked at home. His first cookbook 15 years ago was his way of hoping that people on the road would learn how to make gravy over cube steak and pineapple slices over Miracle Whip on white bread.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Fruit Salad.