HOT DISH: The Rains Came to Tennessee

Loretta Lynn, Kenny Chesney Are Among the Flood Victims

(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

Two Days’ Solid Pouring Rain Is a Real Flood

Every time I’d look out the window, I’d think of Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives. Nashville needed 38 more days of pouring rain and a boat filled with male and female of all creatures alive to be in the game with this Biblical hero.

The rain kept coming and the stories started. Here’s a few.

Please know, there’s no time to confirm. What I am writing I’ve read or been told or maybe e-mailed, which is the case of the following. E-mail informed me that Loretta Lynn was stranded at her ranch “which was pretty much destroyed.” The bridge is gone, maybe the mill. She is on the bus, which has a generator. Her daughter Patsy said she might need a helicopter to get her mother out. Loretta had just started to feel good. I saw her at the Grand Ole Opry the week before, and she looked stunning. A couple more items: Loretta has built a house in Kingston Springs, and her museum is safe. And the Queen of Country Music had been feeling good.

Kenny Speaks

Kenny Chesney returned to his adopted home of Nashville, Tenn., and found the shock of his life when he saw that his city looked like New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

I am told he wrote his first check for $500,000 and then he went on CNN to ask the world for support. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean estimates a billion dollars in damages in Davidson County. A phone call came to Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen from President Barack Obama, who responded right away, claiming four counties, then six and then more as disaster areas. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw went on CNN to plead for help.

Any time there is a disaster in this great land, and when help is needed, radio stations always first call on Nashville performers. They always help. Now maybe it’s time for radio to return the favor, now that Nashville needs help.

’Twas a Flood

Up to 18 inches of rain and in some places more. The two major venues for next month’s CMA Music Festival, LP Field and Riverfront Park, were both submerged in water. The Cumberland River became an angry brown mess as it pushed up the riverbank to 1st Avenue, then to 2nd Avenue, leaving not a dry spot nearby. The Wildhorse Saloon had standing water, with no promise of when it can be useable. The Hard Rock CafĂ© was flooded. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum had five feet of water in a mechanical room, and there was flooding up to the third row in the Ford Theater. Fortunately, none of the museum collections were harmed. With water up to the second floor, Opryland Hotel lies in complete devastation. When the water began to rise, 1,500 guests were evacuated.

The Grand Ole Opry House was flooded. The show must go on, so Tuesday night’s (May 4) concert was held at the War Memorial Auditorium while remaining shows were held at the Ryman. Additional Opry shows will be held at the Ryman until the Opry House is cleaned up and in workable condition. Opry Mills Mall is waterlogged.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center had lots of water, with an organ worth $2.5 million destroyed, along with two Steinway pianos.

Bridgestone Arena had water in the basement.

The most rain ever in the State of Tennessee in two days. Jimmy Buffett filled Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night. Buffett compared the flood to the volcano’s effect in Iceland.

Mattie Jackson and pals suggested to her dad, Alan Jackson — how ’bout having Chris Young for opening act. Alan did. The girls went to the first show and saw Chris get a standing ovation. Alan also uses Josh Turner on his tour. Josh and his band played the Opry on Saturday night and left their vehicles in the parking lot. They performed on the road Sunday night and bused back to Nashville to find their vehicles covered in water.

Martina McBride and Blake Shelton performed in Georgia Saturday night and headed for home (they thought!). It was raining so hard by the time they reached Augusta. They found rooms and stayed the night.

Chuck Wicks’ bus and trailer was under water.

Michelle Branch’s car was under water.

Terri Clark lost her home theater.

Naomi Judd called a local TV station to say her fence was blown down and her buffalo were out. Never heard if there were any volunteers to fix fences or chase buffalo.

John Rich’s grandmother was rescued by boat.

It was truly a scary time. Over 600 people were rescued.

A 90-year-old lady was found up to her neck in water. She was rescued and hospitalized.

Brad Paisley’s road guitar gear, amps and effects were under three feet of river.

And Keith Urban lost all of his touring gear to the river.

Dierks Bentley’s basement flooded and he tried to empty it with a plastic bucket. Finally Dierks got a garden hose, which worked better.

A lady went into labor. Rescuers put her in a boat. A nurse lived nearby and joined the entourage. Neighbors gave clean towels and medical supplies that they had. The baby girl was born weighing around 8 pounds, according to the nurse who made the delivery.

I don’t have a basement. Neighbors on both sides of me have basements. Yes, both basements flooded. They’ve got a mess. Besides all that water, there were tornado-like winds and straight-line winds. We rode down Dickerson Road and saw uplifted roofs, houses split, uprooted trees, damaged schools, stores, cemeteries, all kinds of damage.

CMT Canada

Well, CMT Canada came to my kitchen recently and interviewed me. Nice folks. Just tell your Canadian pals to be on the look out for me flapping my mouth about country music — those that make it and those who write it.

Looky Here!

Ashtabula, Ohio WYBL-FM, 98.3 The Bull decided to start the “Need for Nashville Kids Toy Campaign.” Praise the Lord for the Bull.

2010 Humanitarian Award winners Montgomery Gentry will be on hand for a new KaBOOM! playground to be built in their honor by The Home Depot in Lexington, Ky.

Little Big Town sang the national anthem at Kentucky Oaks and attended the Derby race in Louisville. The foursome virtually blew the crowd of 116,000 plumb away with their incredible harmonies.

I’m proud to announce that Luke Bryan will make his debut appearance on the Tonight Show on Tuesday (May 11). Luke says he’s watched the show since he was a little bitty kid and never dreamed he’d be invited to appear on the iconic show. Luke’s hit “Rain Is a Good Thing” doesn’t seem as great as it once did! He co-wrote the song with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood.

I see where my friend Colt Ford’s Chicken and Biscuits debuted in the Top 10. Colt is hot. He’s done sold 219,274 units of his album. Keep them Hollywood glasses on, Colt. It might just help.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Lemonade Pie.