HOT DISH: Darius Rucker’s Label Team Rubbed the Right Way

More News About Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood 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

Working in the music business is a 24/7 job, so there are times when we all forget an important event. Employees at a record label really have to hustle because there are others just as qualified who are standing in line to get their job. The ala mode is when those employees noticed by a star — a big star like Darius Rucker.

The last day before the recent holiday break, laborers at Capitol Records Nashville were shocked beyond belief when Rucker showed up with some goodies for the staff.

But that’s not all. The South Carolina hitmaker brought along several masseuses to the break room and ceased all other work-related activities while all the hired hands got a massage. Never in my decades of music biz have I ever heard of anybody giving a gift this nice.

Thanks to Darius for making sure the hired hands are rubbed the right way.

Jay DeMarcus Likes His Job
Jay DeMarcus, bass playing member of Rascal Flatts and a new dad, explains, “There will always be routine aspects to this my chosen profession — music. But music is what I do, what I love, and I play music every day. I’d much rather do this than to be in Columbus, Ohio, putting windows in and freezing my butt off!”

They tell me that even the marbled bathroom floors are heated on each member of Rascal Flatts’ tour bus. Not a bad life, huh?

By the way, Jay’s beautiful wife, CMT Insider correspondent Allison DeMarcus, is a former Miss Tennessee who’s blond and of fair complexion. When the couple introduced their month-old daughter to the world via CMT recently, I had to laugh out loud. Jay had been bragging about how his beautiful daughter looks like him, which I seriously doubted. But there she was — jet black hair naturally standing up on her head. The truth of the matter is that the baby does look like Jay!

Carrie Underwood Adopts … a Terrier
Carrie Underwood and hockey-playing hubby Mike Fisher have an addition to their family — a dog that’s one-half Jack Russell terrier (they think). There’s no pedigree for this lovable mutt.

With Carrie on the road and Mike on the ice, she says they still manage to spend lots of time together. Carrie says she loves living in her new home in Canada, including the housekeeping and grocery shopping. And anytime either has a day off, they fly in to join the other.

Kenny Changes Hats
Kenny Chesney has again changed to a movie producer’s hat. Continuing his relationship with ESPN, the network that debuted Kenny’s Boys of Fall documentary, a new one-hour hour documentary, The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story, will premiere Feb. 20.

Kenny idolized the University of Tennessee quarterback and is excited to tell his story as the first African-American to start at quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.

The little guy from Luttrell, Tenn., is set to fill 10 stadium shows this year during his Goin’ Coastal tour. That’s when he’ll be wearing an entertainer of the year hat.

Country Strong Overshadowed by True Grit
I see where Country Strong, the country music movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw, got edged out by True Grit at the box office. It opened at sixth place with $7.3 million. True Grit, with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, came out on top with $15 million.

Back to Country Strong, I’m thinking the DVD version will sell a pickup truck load. I also see where actor Garrett Hedlund found it tough to leave Music City after briefly leading the life of a country star in the movie. He loved it and then had to leave it. Sorta like a country song, I’d say.

Jennette McCurdy Makes Friends in Cincinnati
Jennette McCurdy, Capitol Records recording artist and a star of Nickelodeon’s iCarly, recently left California and headed to Cincinnati for an autograph signing and to meet and say howdy to the fans. A winter storm had left several inches of snow in Ohio, and when she arrived, she realized her transportation from the airport was nowhere to be found. As it turned out, actor-author Henry Winkler was having the same problem.

Not to worry. Winkler, who was promoting his latest children’s book, and Jennette shared a vehicle to the hotel. Pretty soon, it was time for Jennette’s autograph session, and even with all that snow outside, it was the longest line of fans the town had seen since the late Dale Earnhardt visited there many years ago. She autographed everything she could and sold all her merchandise.

Be on the lookout for Jennette’s new music produced by Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts.

Steel Magnolia’s Career Is Blooming
Steel Magnolia have been added to the New Faces of Country Music Show at the upcoming Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. They join The Band Perry, Lee Brice, Jerrod Niemann and Josh Thompson. They were added to the lineup after Easton Corbin moved to a performance slot during the Universal Music Group luncheon at the seminar. The New Faces show, open to those CRS registrants, takes place March 4 at Nashville Convention Center.

Hey, I should mention that Steel Magnolia’s debut album was released this past Tuesday — 1-11-11. They’d love for you to buy yourself 11 copies.

Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley on Grascals’ New Album
Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and Dolly Parton are just three of the artists putting a bluegrass spin on country classics on The Grascals & Friends, a new CD available at Cracker Barrel stores. It includes Brad performing “Tiger by the Tail,” one of the big hits for his hero, the late Buck Owens, along with Dierks’ version of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” The Grascals also join Tom T. Hall for a remake of “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” and Charlie Daniels for new arrangements of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Dolly’s featured in the new video for “I Am Strong.” The album also includes guest appearances from Joe Nichols, Darryl Worley, Terri Clark, the Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Owen, Steven Seagal and Ansley McLaurin.

James Otto Visits
James Otto wrote and sang one of the all-time great country songs, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You.” The all-American 6-foot-5 native of Washington is a family man who loves music and is proud his grandfather was in the Armed Forces. His dad also served in the military, and so did James. His current album, Shake What God Gave Ya, contains the single “Soldiers and Jesus” and pretty much explains what James is about — a pride of country and love of God.

Pretty soon, the snow will melt and birds will sing. And so will James when he hits the highways with his country soul songs. When he visited my kitchen recently, his mom was down from Indianapolis to help him take care of his pride and joy, 5-month old daughter Ava Catherine, while his wife Amy was in Las Vegas working with the Miss America pageant.

One of the nicest guys, Otto’s track record includes co-writing the smash “In Color” with Jamey Johnson, and he co-wrote songs with Jamey on each of his albums.

I feel so richly blessed to have artists like James in my kitchen. Hearing men like him talk about music, his family and our country makes me know the music I’ve loved all my life will live forever. Our children’s children will play guitars and fiddles and mandolins and sing the songs of Harlan Howard and all the Hanks.

See James on CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks on Feb. 13.

More News
Warner Music Nashville’s new duo, the JaneDear Girls, will head out with hot Jason Aldean on his upcoming My Kinda Party tour. Those girls sure lucked up on that gig.

Faith Hill and the Teleflora flower delivery service have partnered to develop a bouquet line they’re calling “The Collection by Faith Hill.” She’ll promote it during a TV spot to run during the Super Bowl — just in time for all you guys to order for your favorite lady on Valentine’s Day.

Blake Shelton will co-host the ACM Awards with Reba on April 13 in Las Vegas.

Actor-singer Christian Kane, who visited me in my kitchen a couple of months ago, returned to his home state to perform at Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s inaugural ball. She’s the state’s first female governor.

No longer smelling like an ashtray, I’m happy to report that Gretchen Wilson quit smoking.

Jewel and her cowboy hubby, Ty Murray, are expecting!

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week:

[news id=”1656000″]Buffet Potatoes.[/news]