HOT DISH: A Girl Named Taylor Swift

More News About Jamey Johnson, Alan Jackson, Billy Currington 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

No two ways about it, Taylor Swift is a phenomenon. Not a week goes by that she doesn’t make headlines about something. She’s outsold everyone else’s CDs and headlined a sold-out concert tour. She writes songs, sings ’em, sells ’em and is awarded for ’em.

Between concerts, she stops to visit Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah Winfrey on their daytime TV shows or appears at night on shows hosted by the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien. Just Saturday (Nov. 7), she hosted Saturday Night Live. And she’s heading for Australia with her friends Kellie Pickler and Gloriana opening shows. The girl is everywhere, and she’s almost too busy with business.

Having said all of that, I cannot tell you how thrilled it made me to see a photo of 19-year-old Taylor in the car with actor Taylor Lautner driving around Hollywood. I mean, all her awards and sellouts and sales are wonderful, but 19 is the age for a girl to be dating. Of course, there’s been a Jonas and a “Hey Stephen,” but this Taylor and Taylor is not the same. Taylor and Taylor riding together in a car with him behind the wheel, she looks like she’s sort of struck on this boy. She told Ellen he was cute.

I’d hate to see Taylor go hog-wild over Hollywood. Something about the West Coast seems to misguide country music stars. They get starry-eyed and forget to write songs and make records. You can pretty much count the ones guilty of this who have been counted out. There’s no counting Taylor out.

Jamey Johnson Surprises Actor
Celebrating his 40th birthday, actor Matthew McConaughey called himself a late bloomer who has everything he needs. “A happy and healthy lady, a son and another baby on the way,” he boasted. On Tuesday (Nov. 3), he celebrated with a big party that featured someone he described as “one of my favorite artists.” That artist turned out to be none other than Jamey Johnson.

Alan Jackson Greets His Fans
There must have been 1,000 or more fans at the Cracker Barrel restaurant near the Mount Juliet exit of I-40 near Nashville, and a bevy of them had been there since 5 a.m. to see Alan Jackson. Since I’m not driving with my fractured foot, a Cadillac Escalade pulled up to my house with a young driver — my escort for the day. Off we went. Alan was set to arrive at 9 a.m., and he showed up wearing a red Western shirt and riding in a vintage white Cadillac convertible with those big skirted fenders. Lordy me, Hollywood ain’t seen the day!

Alan rolled out of that machine with his Resistol hat and snakeskin boots, looking around and looking good. Screams went up to high heavens. A lady from Virginia almost lost her breath, and those California gals just went plumb ga-ga. Me, I sat until he came my way and I stood. We embraced. Alan said he was surprised to see me. Like always, he thanked me for supporting him through the years, and I thanked him for the music and his wonderful 20-year friendship.

We talked about the variety of items in the Alan Jackson Collection that’s being sold at all of the chain’s restaurants. He made me aware that his collection is being made available through Nov. 12 at a gift shop the company is temporarily operating on Broadway in downtown Nashville. Alan will be there Tuesday (Nov. 10) to sign autographs from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.

Hillbilly Funnybone
Blake Shelton’s collaboration with Trace Adkins on “Hillbilly Bone” is one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. The preteens, teens and twentysomethings have laughed aloud just like I did. I was surprised the first five times I saw it, but then I bellowed, and so did the youngsters. Looks like a home run for Blake and Trace. I see it at No. 1 for weeks.

More News
Riding home from Sunday lunch in Nashville, I saw a billboard near Ellington Parkway featuring a way-bigger-than life-size picture of Brad Paisley and Nashville radio hotshot Gerry House. Maybe they were looking for CMA votes. I’ve already voted, boys. The CMA Awards show airs Wednesday (Nov. 11) on ABC with Brad and Carrie Underwood hosting.

Tracy Lawrence is getting ready to fry turkeys again this year as a Thanksgiving gift to the homeless. It makes me so proud of Tracy. He’s always been a great singer, and he’s turned out to be a great daddy and great husband.

Billy Currington will be riding a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Besides Billy, the only famous name I recognized in the parade was Kermit the Frog. Listen, Mercury Records, wouldn’t it be a grand idea to let David Letterman know that Billy will be back in the Big Apple? Maybe he’d want to hear another performance of “People Are Crazy” on the Late Show. What a performance Billy did the last time he sang the song on the show.

Since the Academy Awards have selected Alec Baldwin and a bluegrass banjo picker named Steve Martin to co-host the Academy Awards — “hoping to resurrect ratings,” show organizers said — it seems to me the CMA might do some leaning toward that thinking rather going to the popping pop world. And should the Oscars want the IBMA’s two-time banjo player of the year — Kristen Scott Benson of the Grascals — I do believe I can arrange that.

Starting in January, George Strait and feisty redhead Reba McEntire will tour together. The two superstars will perform 19 concerts through April. Listen, neither of these artists need Pro-Tools to stay on key. So, young folks, put your butts in the seats to see and hear some real God-given talent from two of the best.

From what I hear, Big & Rich are each going solo for a year and then will reform the duo. John Rich and his wife, Joan, are expecting while Big Kenny and his wife and baby are happy as bugs in a rug. I’m not one to advise those guys, but since Brooks & Dunn will be history in a year there’s more chance of being named duo of the year rather than the top male artist.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Quick and Easy Beef Stroganoff.