HOT DISH: Recapping CMT Music Awards, CMA Music Festival and Bonnaroo

More News About Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, 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

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney appeared in a video segment that opened the recent CMT Music Awards . It was easy for me to see who I would vote for. I hope the rest of America is as sure of themselves as I am.

Carrie Underwood took home two trophies at the awards show, including video of the year for “Good Girl.” She and Brad Paisley shared the collaborative video of the year award for “Remind Me.” Other winners included Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Scotty McCreery and Thompson Square.

But when the male video honor went to Luke Bryan for “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” it appeared that he’d done some rabbit hunting in his lifetime. So much so, in fact, he hopped all the way to the stage like a Georgia rabbit.

I laughed when Willie Nelson, Zac Brown, Toby Keith, Jamey Johnson and Darius Rucker sang “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” Five powerful men singing one powerful song. Good show, CMT. Real good show.

Darius can pass as Hootie & the Blowfish or Darius Rucker. He raised $121,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Raising that much money, I think we can simply call him Mr. Wonderful.

Jamey traveled to Austin for the Matthew McConaughey/Camila Alves wedding. The 25 expected guests turned out to be more than 100. They stayed in air conditioned tents. Show biz is grand.

Thanks to Jackie Krimmel for my CMT Music Awards tickets. My leg would not let me attend, so Jackie allowed my granddaughter, Tara, to sit in my place.

Let me tell you about the CMA Music Festival tickets. My friend, Clarence Spalding, manager of Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Sara Evans, Terri Clark and others, told his best friend — Country Music Association CEO Steve Moore — that I needed a couple of tickets. Early one morning, I answered the phone. It was Steve informing me when I needed anything from the CMA to call him.

God gives me the greatest friends — friends like Clarence and Steve. I’m truly blessed.

“Do you need tickets now?” asked Steve.

“Not now,” I replied. “My friend Brad Paisley and [Brad’s band member] Kendal Marcy found a couple of tickets for me.”

Scott Stem and Maria Eckhardt at the CMA originally got a couple of music fest tickets for me before they started distributing tickets. Thanks Clarence, Steve, Brad, Kendal, Scott, Maria — and God, from whom all blessings flow.

That isn’t all. My oldest grandson, Adam Smith, was awarded press packets for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival by Big Hassle Media. Adam attended the event in Manchester, Tenn., went to press conferences, watched the concerts, took notes and interviewed artists for me.

Young people such as Adam like Chris Thile, the former Nickel Creek singer-mandolinist who now plays with the Punch Brothers. Chris impressed Adam when he said, “Fans come to Bonnaroo to listen to the music, not just here to party.”

Sarah Jarosz said she was honored to be up there onstage with acts like Kenny Rogers and Ben Folds. Sarah said she grew up in and around festivals in Texas.

“The great part of Bonnaroo is that it’s multigenre,” she said.

Kenny Rogers joked, “I attribute my success at Bonnaroo to child abuse. Parents listen to me when children are young — especially the singalongs.”

He continued, “People clap to be nice, do not laugh to be nice. Even if they don’t like my music, it’s good to make them laugh. At festivals back in the ’60s, people were so stoned, they didn’t know what was happening. They didn’t listen to the music. I enjoy listening to the music. Who wouldn’t be happy having a music career for 50 years? I’ve had a 50-year career. I used to play golf with Alice Cooper twice a week. He’s here at Bonnaroo. It’s fun to play for an audience that doesn’t know you.”

The Infamous Stringdusters! Full house to see this band. Fans were dancing. Great reception. Fans loved the old-time songs.

The great Sam Bush! Adam saw Sam standing backstage and just had to speak to him. When he introduced himself as “Hazel’s grandson,” Sam said, “You’re Billy’s son, aren’t you? … How’s Hazel? I love me some Hazel.”

There was a small but enthusiastic crowd when Sam and his band began playing. By their third song, though, the place was packed. One of the songs was a tribute to Earl Scruggs. Sam’s music, like Earl’s, has unseen boundaries.

The Punch Brothers attracted a large, weather-beaten crowd during the hottest part of the day — with no shade. The crowd was mostly sitting with a small, dedicated group standing and dancing as the band played their intricate, jazz-like songs.

Jarosz’s appearance on Sunday was to a grizzled yet enthusiastic crowd. She played the claw-hammer banjo on “Do You Think of Me” and had sign language interpreters. Her mandolin instrumental, “Mansinneedof,” was a huge hit with the crowd. She was just great.

Kenny Rogers faced a multiage crowd when he walked onstage and opened with “Love or Something Like It.” He still has his voice to sing.

“Bonnaroo and Kenny Rogers,” he said to the crowd. “What’s wrong with that? I belong here!” Surprise guest Lionel RichieRichie came onstage and sang “Lady” with Kenny. It don’t get no better than that. That’s what so great about Bonnaroo. Guests join in with whoever is performing.

Adam says he will be back at the festival next year. It is truly a blessing in disguise when grandkids do chores for you when you cannot do it on your own.

Kenny Chesney Stars in ESPN Commercial
Kenny Chesney takes center stage in ESPN’s latest “This Is Sports Center” commercial. Special guests include two Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and several team mascots — Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State University, Smokey from the University of Tennessee, Miles from the Denver Broncos and Hook ’Em from the University of Texas.

Kenny and Tim McGraw played before a total of almost 100,000 fans recently in Dallas and Kansas City, Mo. Fans were dancing in Dallas, where guests included Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (who played football at the University of Tennessee) and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman. All three joined Kenny to sing “The Boys of Fall.”

Miley Cyrus Is Engaged
Nineteen years old, Miley Cyrus is wearing a 3½ carat diamond engagement ring. Billy Ray’s daughter is engaged to 22-year-old actor Liam Hemsworth. We wish Miley the best. It does not seem like 19 years have come and gone since former Mercury Nashville publicist Sandy Neese called to let me know Billy Ray had a baby daughter and was thrilled beyond words.

More News
Faith Hill, Eric Church and others performed at one of the CMA Music Festival’s nightly concerts at Nashville’s LP Field while Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry, Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann were at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where 38,000 fans turned out. “I love this town,” said Brad as he thanked Chicago.

Carrie Underwood told a U.K. newspaper she backs gay marriage. The country star, a devoted Christian and a married woman, allows everyone has the right to love.

Eric Church’s “Springsteen” single is platinum and his Sinners Like Me album is gold.

Rascal Flatts and songwriters Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher celebrated their No. 1 hit, “Banjo,” that was produced by the ever-wonderful Dann Huff.

Remembering Frances Preston
Frances Preston was the first female executive in Nashville. She put BMI on the map in Music City then she put BMI on the national map. She was always beautiful. She made women want to dress up — wear hose and heels and suits. I saw Frances last August at the SOURCE banquet. She was stunning. She died Wednesday (June 13) at 4 a.m. in her home in Nashville. Frances Preston was a great lady. She was the best Nashville ever had.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1687543″] Hash Brown Potato Casserole.[/news]