HOT DISH: Andy Griffith Entertained and Taught Us All

More News About Lady Antebellum, Jake Owen, the Dixie Chicks 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 CMT.com.)

When the news of Andy Griffith‘s passing reached me, I felt like some relative or neighbor from back home had died. Thinking of Andy, his honesty, his take on life and his way of dealing with the troubled or less fortunate, The Andy Griffith Show was a “have to watch” when it first aired in the ’60s. And it still is.

I still cannot believe he’s gone. All I can think about are the beautiful outer banks of North Carolina and how much Andy enjoyed the sea and sand and wildflowers and wildlife and all that goes with it. Andy lived in California, but he retired in North Carolina, his East Coast heaven on earth where the scent of the sea breeze filled his nostrils. He kept a Martin guitar hanging on the wall of his living room when it wasn’t in his hands playing the bluegrass he so loved.

Brad Paisley told me he watches reruns of The Andy Griffith Show regularly because he raises his two sons, Huck and Jasper, the same way Andy raised his son, Opie, on the TV show. Andy advised kindly and firmly but he never spanked. I’ve watched that show from its beginnings. Andy and Barney (Don Knotts), Goober (George Lindsey) and Gomer (Jim Nabors), Aunt Bea (Frances Bavier), Opie (Ron Howard) and, of course, Otis (the town drunk) and Floyd (the barber). I will watch it forever.

Daddy was a deputy sheriff in Caswell County, N.C., and the county seat of Yanceyville. Andy was born and raised in Mount Airy, N.C., but on the show, he named his hometown Mayberry. Mayberry and Yanceyville were like one and the same. The hero on the show was Andy, hands down. Barney was the geek. Goober and Gomer pumped gas and changed oil at the filling station. Aunt Bea lived with Andy and Opie, made jelly and cooked supper. Andy was the star, and Otis was drunk every weekend. I can name you folks back home who fit those characters to a T. As for Andy himself, I see him in Carolina folks like Randy Travis, the late Earl Scruggs, my brother Henry Boone, a couple of preachers and a moonshiner. There are so many, I won’t try to name them all.

Traveling on I-40 near Winston-Salem, N.C., U.S. Highway 52 crosses the interstate and goes all the way to Mount Airy, located on the border near Galax, Va. Born and raised in this neck of the woods, it’s no wonder Andy played his guitar and sang country songs on his TV show. All the way to the mountains of Asheville and across the Tennessee state line, there’s bluegrass and homemade booze in every nook and holler.

I’ve known the name Andy Griffith my entire life. He was in the film A Face in the Crowd and earned a Tony Award for his role on Broadway in the lead of No Time for Sergeants and a second Tony for his role in Destry Rides Again. As a Capitol recording artist, Andy enjoyed success with his 1958 comedy album Just for Laughs that included two of his most famous routines, “What It Was, Was Football” and “Romeo and Juliet.” He followed up with Andy Griffith Shouts the Blues and Old Timey Songs.

In the ’90s, he recorded a series of gospel albums and won a Grammy in 1996 for I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns. Marty Stuart produced Griffith’s holiday album, The Christmas Guest, and also did something Andy never forgot by arranging for him to perform on the Grand Ole Opry. This was of such importance because it was the first time Andy ever performed music in front of a live audience. I watched it from the wings and was so proud to see this great man from North Carolina on that famous stage.

Andy’s appearance in Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ on a Woman” won them a CMA Award for music video of the year. It’s one of the best videos ever.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned a degree in music. Andy taught music in high school for three years before television and the stage took him to the entire world, and thank God, they did.

He’s one of the folks in my life that I wish could live forever, but he couldn’t and didn’t. He sure left us a lot of laughs. What a way to go.

Lady Antebellum’s International Travels
Lady A‘s Charles Kelley says his bandmates Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood stayed mad at him the last time they were overseas because he was so jetlagged, he wanted to sleep all day. While chatting with CMT Insider , Charles added that he and Dave play ping-pong backstage before their shows. It sounds like Hillary doesn’t like that too much, either.

The threesome start the European leg of their tour in Dublin on Tuesday (July 10). They’ll finish up the European shows on July 27 and then head to Australia on Sept. 25.

Another Baby Chick Is on Its Way
One of the lucky people who enjoyed seeing and hearing Lee Ann Womack, Eric Church, Willie Nelson and the Dixie Chicks during the recent benefit concert for the China Cares Foundation asked me if Emily Robison was in the family way. Of course, I did not know at the time of the concert in Connecticut.

“She had that banjo sitting up on her little belly, and it sure looks like a pregnant belly to me,” said my friend.

Now the word has reached me that Emily is expecting her fourth child — her first child with boyfriend Martin Strayer. Emily has three children — 7-year-old twins Juliana Tex and Henry Benjamin and 9-year-old Charles Augustus — with ex-husband Charlie Robison.

Civil Wars Expand, Too
Joy Williamson of the marvelous award-winning duo the Civil Wars says she learned the meaning of love at first sight on June 30 when she saw her baby boy for the first time. Joy’s husband, Nate Yetton, is the Civil Wars’ manager.

The duo officially went on maternity leave following their performance last month at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Joy and musical partner John Paul White plan to begin recording the follow-up to their hit album, Barton Hollow.

And Jake Owen and Wife Have a Baby on the Way
He’s on the road opening concerts for Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw during their Brothers of the Sun tour, but Jake Owen‘s mind is on the pretty barefoot woman he married on a Florida beach in May.

Jake and wife Lacey Buchanan Owen have announced they’re going to have a baby — a little girl.

“The first man a girl falls in love with is her daddy, and I am excited to assume that role,” Jake says.

Well, it’s time for Jake to settle down. He’s 30, and his pretty wife is 22.

Amy Grant Invites Fans to Her Farm for Charity Event
Precious Amy Grant, Vince Gill‘s wife, invited hundreds of her biggest fans to their farm in Franklin, Tenn., for a three-day event that included a barbecue picnic, hot air balloon rides and skeet shooting. More than 600 turned out, but the photos looked like even more were there. Amy and her band performed a concert at the Factory in Franklin and closed the weekend with a Sunday morning worship service.

Net proceeds totaled over $50,000 and went to Grant’s Helping Hand Foundation which supports several charities, including the Nashville Rescue Mission, the Bridge Ministry, Thistle Farms, the Hope Clinic for Women, With This Ring (for clean water wells in Africa) and Blood: Water Mission.

More News
Kip Moore‘s “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” spent two weeks atop the Billboard country songs chart, so he hauled butt to New York City to perform his next single, a ditty titled “Money,” on NBC’s Today. We need more Moore, don’t you think? Kip hooks up with Eric Church’s Blood, Sweat & Beers tour this fall.

I see where Kellie Pickler and Sony Nashville have gone separate ways. Sending love and prayers, Kellie.

A star-studded cast including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and Edward Norton star in Moonrise Kingdom, a new movie that has already opened here in Nashville. Six Hank Williams songs are featured in the film.

Remembering Susanna Clark
The beautiful Susanna Clark passed away in her sleep recently at her Nashville home. An artist and songwriter, she was married to singer-songwriter Guy Clark for four decades. Like Guy, Susanna was a dear friend to the late Townes Van Zandt. She was a friend to Emmylou Harris, Carlene Carter and many other creative folks in and around Nashville.

Her songwriting credits include “Come From the Heart,” a No. 1 country hit for Kathy Mattea in 1989. In addition, “Easy From Now On” has been recorded by her co-writer Carlene Carter as well as Terri Clark, Emmylou Harris and Miranda Lambert. Her paintings were used as artwork for several albums, including the cover of Willie Nelson‘s Stardust.

Sending sympathy and love to Guy.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id="1689162"]Old-Timey Rice Pudding.[/news]