HOT DISH: Fans Invade Nashville for CMA Music Festival, CMT Music Awards

Country Stars and Entire Community Ready to Extend a Warm Welcome

(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.)

You wonderful lovers of country music who are visiting Nashville this week are in for some huge fun and great music at the 2010 CMT Music Awards and the CMA Music Festival . And I know the country stars are looking forward to seeing you all.

We’ve had a scary time in Music Town lately. Last month’s flood took its toll, going anywhere it wanted to go. It took Kenny Chesney‘s house like it had papers of ownership. Anybody and everybody who lived near the Cumberland and Harpeth rivers saw the water rise like never before. People are still trying to dry out their homes.

I’m sorry the results of the flood will prevent you from seeing the Grand Ole Opry in the Opry House, but the show goes on this month with performances at the Ryman Auditorium and Lipscomb University. If everything goes as planned, the Opry House will reopen in October.

The CMA Music Festival takes place Thursday through Sunday (June 10-13), and you can expect performances from some of the biggest stars at LP Field and Riverfront Park. Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, the Judds, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton and many, many others will be signing autographs in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Hall at the Nashville Convention Center.

And even before the festival officially begins, the stars will be out in force Wednesday night (June 9) for the 2010 CMT Music Awards. Hosted by Kid Rock, the show at the Bridgestone Arena will feature performances by Toby Keith, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood and the Zac Brown Band, along with Keith Urban‘s special collaboration with John Mayer.

If you can’t be in Nashville for the awards show, you can watch it from the comfort of your home. It airs live at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

To those of you who will be visiting our great city, thanks for coming. Whatever you do, enjoy yourselves. And let’s keep our music country — like our lives depend on it.

Alan Jackson Sells His House
Alan and Denise Jackson’s house, which had been on the market for about a year, sold last week for $28 million. The original asking price was $38 million for the 135-acre spread that includes a six-bedroom, 17,000-square-foot mansion and a cabin by the river.

Alan has said he and Denise would probably move to Florida if the place sold. Both of them love to fish — and they love Florida. Their oldest daughter, Mattie, is already straight A-ing it through college. Their two younger daughters are doing well in school, too, and will probably follow Mattie’s example.

Desert Rose Band Reunites
The Desert Rose Band, a country hit machine in the late ’80s, have reunited. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the group sounded better than ever during a recent showcase at Buck Owens‘ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, Calif.

Desert Rose leader Chris Hillman was joined by guitar greats Herb Pederson and John Jorgenson, steel guitarist Jay Dee Maness, bassist Bill Bryson and drummer Steve Duncan. Believe me, if a song can be played, these guys can play it.

Their Top 10 hits include “He’s Back and I’m Blue,” “I Still Believe in You,” “Summer Wind,” “One Step Forward” and “She Don’t Love Nobody.”

Best Wishes for My Buddy
Songwriter Buddy Cannon, my friend who also produces records for Kenny Chesney and others, had surgery last week, and from all reports, he’s come through with flying colors. Thanks be to the Good Lord for taking care of Buddy, one of Music Row’s great guys — the man who discovered both Billy Ray Cyrus and Shania Twain.

More News
Dolly Parton was joined by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean last week when she presented a $250,000 donation from her foundation to the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville’s Restore the Dream fund to benefit Nashville residents impacted by the big flood of early May.

Chris LeDoux Park will be dedicated on June 19 in Kaycee, Wyo. The ceremony will include the unveiling of a life-size statue of LeDoux, who died in 2005.

Miranda Lambert’s third annual Cause for the Paws fundraiser in Tyler, Texas, raised almost $100,000 for abandoned and abused animals. More than 800 fans turned out to enjoy the dinner and concert. Several guests performed, including her fiancé, Blake Shelton, who made a surprise appearance. Miranda agreed to donate $2,800 if Blake sang “Hillbilly Bone.” Of course, he sang it!

Laura Bell Bundy made her Grand Ole Opry debut during one of the show’s rare productions at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. It’s the stage where Ernest Tubb, Minnie Pearl and Bill Monroe all made their first Opry appearances. Since water from the Cumberland River flooded the Grand Ole Opry House, the Opry performances are taking place at other venues around town.

Toby Keith’s golf tournament, concert and auction raised almost $600,000 for Oklahoma kids battling cancer. Larry the Cable Guy was there to keep the crowd in stitches. David Allan Coe and Phil Vassar also performed during the event in Norman, Okla.

More than 42,000 fans flocked to the first stops on Brad Paisley’s H2O tour in Virginia Beach, Va., and Washington, D.C. Joining him on the tour are Darius Rucker, Justin Moore, Easton Corbin, Josh Thompson and Steel Magnolia. Brad even showed up on the smaller stage to play guitar during Steel Magnolia’s set.

Memorial Day Reflections
Some Gave All, Billy Ray Cyrus’ 1992 debut album, resulted in four hits, including “Achy, Breaky Heart.” The song not only made the Flatwoods, Ky., native a household word, it made him a megastar and multimillionaire. People still line dance to “Achy, Breaky Heart” at country music dance clubs, but it’s the album’s title track that stands on its own almost two decades later.

“All gave some and some gave all,” Billy Ray sang in the song he wrote. “And some stood through for the red, white and blue.”

On Memorial Day this year, Middle Tennessee honored its military dead like it has for 142 years. At the Nashville National Cemetery, Boy Scouts placed an American flag on every grave. When my two oldest grandsons were scouts I drove them to the cemetery in the rain and walked proudly with them as they placed the flags. There’s no greater pride for a young boy than this. And there’s no better way for a boy to learn to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Driving by row after row of white headstones, I was reminded that a large percentage of those who gave their lives were only 19 years old.

Toby Keith has traveled to the Middle East eight times in eight years to perform for our troops. He goes to the front lines and entertains those who dare to be in harm’s way so we can be free. Toby’s daddy was a former serviceman who proudly flew an American flag in his front yard. One of the most emotional situations Toby has ever faced was when he sat two feet from a coffin while traveling on a military plane. He knew the serviceman had given his life to our nation and that the body would be delivered to a family who loved him. So it’s no wonder that Toby must sing for the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform.

During his USO tours, Darryl Worley has traveled overseas to wherever the troops are able to rest their heads and eat prepackaged rations. He performs for as many troops as he can. He knows why they’re there, and he thinks a little music can give a lonely person a reason to smile. Darryl tells me there’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. He has to go visit the troops and perform for them.

Craig Morgan wore a U.S. Army uniform for 10 years, and he still goes to perform wherever he is needed and whenever he is called. There are others who go to the front lines. The great Charlie Daniels makes the trip every year. Kellie Pickler has been twice. Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser made their way there recently. Thanks to all of you for being unselfish.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Hello Dolly’s.