HOT DISH: Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, ZBB and More

Looking Back at a Bountiful Musical Year in Country

(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.)

The new year is here, but what a year 2009 turned out to be. Two short years ago hardly anybody knew Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum. Do you realize Taylor is worldwide? She is everything except male vocalist and group. Lady Antebellum is THE happening group of the moment. Now Taylor’s everywhere.

Zac Brown Band is another group that’s totally unforgettable. They are so different and so good. Everybody said they were the best on the CMA Awards back in November including yours truly. Lots of outstanding groups. Love and Theft are hot to listen to and hot to look at. From Texas, we’ve got the cooking Eli Young Band filling venues, and how about the Randy Rogers Band? Those Austin boys played 200 shows this year.

Gloriana‘s a cute harmonizing foursome that got their start opening for Taylor. Carter’s Chord was signed to Toby Keith‘s Show Dog label.

Carrie Underwood got engaged, so she probably won’t be hitting it as hard as Taylor and Kellie Pickler. There’ll be dishes to wash and floors to clean.

Kenny Chesney‘s taking off from the total grind, but he will be performing maybe 10 big shows across the country. He’s worked so hard and he’s very well off, so let him be. Brad Paisley‘s still out there hitting it hard, and I see where Tim McGraw will tour in 2010 with Lady Antebellum opening. George Strait will be out there with Reba and Lee Ann Womack opening. Reba scored the No. 1 song, “Consider Me Gone,” as the old year ended, proving you don’t have to become a quitter at 50. Keith Urban is ending his year in Australia with Nic and Sunday and the grandparents. Keith will work in 2010. Alan Jackson will tour.

Jamey Johnson, singer-songwriter, is still topping my list of newbies and right behind him is Randy Houser and following close behind Randy is James Otto. I’m talking songs now, folks. Songs that you can hum today and when you’re old and gray. Songs are what made Music Town what it is. We are so blessed when great poets come along and share something as wonderful as “In Color.”

Look for huge news from Ronnie Gilley with concerts, recordings and the big Bama Jam in Dothan, Ala. I’m hearing lots of news — great big great news from south Alabama. I will see you there.

They call it a bad economy. I call it hard times. May the new year be another country music home run. Keep those Taylors coming and pray for the troops wherever they are. Even if you’re like me and dislike the war, it is our duty to honor those in uniform. God bless you all and to all a happy new year!

See the Hot Dish recipe of the week: Banana Nut Bread.