HOT DISH: Jason Aldean Slows Briefly, Prepares for Bigger Things in 2013

More News About Kenny Chesney, Lauren Alaina, Thompson Square 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

The pace of Nashville’s Music Row always slows down after Thanksgiving, providing artists and others in the entertainment industry an opportunity to catch their breath and get ready for another year. Jason Aldean is one of the people who deserve some downtime during the holiday season.

Busy Jason has completed his My Kinda Party tour, but he’s been all over television lately to promote his new album, Night Train. He was singing his new single, “The Only Way I Know,” on The Voice, then he helped announce several categories for the People’s Choice Awards and performed during the outdoor concert series on Jimmy Kimmel and also performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Since you know where he’s been, you may be aware that Jason will kick off the first leg of his 2013 Night Train tour on Feb. 21 in Bossier City, La., and choo-choo to 23 cities through May with Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett. Later in the year, they’ll play sold-out concerts in Athens, Ga., at the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, Boston’s Fenway Park (two shows) and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

Lauren Alaina Celebrates 18th Birthday
Since she was on tour and missed her high school’s junior prom, Lauren Alaina was surprised on her 18th birthday with a prom-themed bash. Thinking she was going out to dinner with family and friends, she was taken to her hometown of Rossville, Ga., where members of her high school waited to meet her. An ambassador for Special Olympics Project Unify, Lauren spent significant time during high school helping those with special needs, many whom were crowned honorary kings and queens during the party.

Be proud of Lauren.

Thompson Square Working on a Novel
Keifer and Shawna Thompson of Thompson Square are writing their first novel, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? The CMA’s reigning vocal duo of the year will release the book next summer. The title comes from their breakthrough single which is on the brink of double-platinum status.

Thompson Square will join Luke Bryan on his first headlining tour that begins Jan. 17 in Evansville, Ind.

Kenny Chesney Wins Billboard Touring Awards
Kenny Chesney was one of the big winners recently at the Billboard Touring Awards in New York City. Kenny was honored with the top package award for the top-grossing tour with three or more artists on the bill. Ticket sales of his Brothers of the Sun tour with Tim McGraw, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Jake Owen hit $100 million. Kenny was also presented the road warrior award celebrating his work ethic, professionalism and artist integrity on the road.

Lady Antebellum won Billboard’s breakthrough award, and Tim McGraw and Pennzoil received the concert marketing and promotion award.

John Fogerty Preparing Memoir, New Album
John Fogerty, who wrote and sang Creedence Clearwater Revival classics such as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Down on the Corner” and “Born on the Bayou,” is set to publish his memoir in 2014. In the meantime, his Wrote a Song for Everyone album will be out next year with collaborations featuring Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket and others.

Dwight Yoakam Finishing Up Australian Tour
Dwight Yoakam is scheduled to wrap up his Australian tour Monday (Nov. 26), and he’s no doubt been thrilling all the ladies with music from his recently-released 26th album, 3 Pears. With a bevy of awards to his credit, his latest was when he was honored by the Academy of Country Music with the prestigious Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award.

Dwight’s one of a kind.

A Girl Called Sam
CMT Radio’s Samantha Stephens has personality, plus the good looks, smarts and everything else it takes to be a TV star. The Eastman, Ga., native was born in the area of the state where Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean were raised. Like the dudes, Samantha came to Music Town to be a singer-songwriter. But like so many, she had to go to work to buy the groceries and pay the rent. She isn’t complaining.

When Sam — well, that’s what we call her at CMT — walked into my kitchen, I was so impressed. She was right at home and ready to talk and eat. Right away, I wondered just how long it would be before somebody said, “Let’s find this girl a television spot.”

At the moment, she’s a radio girl. Sam arises daily for a 4:30 a.m. call time. She bolts to CMT and proceeds to call up radio friends and neighbors across the country with the news of the morning and the insider details about what’s going on with the stars of country music.

Whether she’s talking about Georgia boys like Jason or Luke or someone from Oklahoma like Blake Shelton or Garth Brooks, she feels country pride. She’s proud to be Samantha Stephens, on-air personality for CMT Radio.

She’s already scored some TV work. Her favorite assignment so far is covering the red carpet before an awards show.

While we were taping CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks , she kept checking her teeth. Finally, she told me she was on the red carpet and about to begin an interview with Casey James when he said, “Hold on!” Casey then took his finger and wiped lip gloss off her teeth.

“Takes a real man to wipe lip gloss off a woman’s teeth,” I said.

Keep your eyes peeled for Sam. There’s no telling, just no telling, where she will wind up. She’s sharp as a tack — and so cute.

See the Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1506690″]Chess Cake Bars.[/news]