HOT DISH: Kenny Chesney Rocks the Rafters in Dallas

More News on CMT Music Awards, Kellie Pickler, Darius Rucker and George Strait

(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

More than 45,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium near Dallas reached for the rafters as Kenny Chesney gave the fans two solid hours on a tour that started two months ago in Tampa, Fla. Bighearted Kenny shared the night with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware and tight end Jason Witten, University of Florida football coach Will Muschamp, University of Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema and Kenny’s close friend, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.

And as the band played “The Boys of Fall,” Kenny singled out a young boy down front and gave him a Cowboys helmet. Later, he gave a young girl a guitar.

The opening acts were well received — Texas acts Kacey Musgraves and the wonderful Eli Young Band, as well as North Carolina-born singer-songwriter Eric Church.

Kenny will play 19 stadiums before he wraps up the tour Aug. 23-24 in Foxboro, Mass., at Gillette Stadium, a place Kenny loves so well.

If you pay attention, you’ll see Kenny is all over the place. His current album Life on a Rock topped Billboard’s country and all genres charts.

Dancing With the Country Star
Kellie Pickler has made it all the way to the finals on Dancing With the Stars. She’s a real dancer, and I’d love to see her bring that huge trophy home. Kellie and her dance partner Derek Hough (Julianne Hough’s brother) are still looking great. The final episodes of the season air Monday and Tuesday (May 20-21) on ABC.

Also, Kellie is set to release a single titled “Someone Somewhere Tonight” to country radio on Black River Entertainment. The title sounds like it could be real country — and that’s what Kellie wants to be. She wants to be country like Loretta Lynn was in the beginning.

Performers Announced for CMT Music Awards
Hunter Hayes, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, the Pistol Annies and Taylor Swift are on the initial list of artists scheduled to perform at the 2013 CMT Music Awards . Hosted by Jason Aldean and actress Kristen Bell, country music’s first fan-voted awards show will broadcast from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on June 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT and Presenters and additional performers will be announced in coming weeks.

Superstars Head to Opry During CMA Music Festival
Speaking of Kellie Pickler, she will join Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and the young duo of Lennon and Maisy Stella from Nashville on June 4 when the Grand Ole Opry kicks off its CMA Music Festival week with two star-packed shows. Carrie Underwood will celebrate her fifth year as an Opry member with a performance during the June 7 show. Country Music Hall of Famers Mel Tillis and Charley Pride are also scheduled to appear June 7.

Nashville Will Return, Malibu Country Won’t
Yes, Nashville will return for a second season on ABC. The nation has not seen the last of Rayna Jaymes (played by Connie Britton), Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) and the rest of the Nashville gang.

However, it makes me feel very sad to report that Reba McEntire’s Malibu Country sitcom has been canceled by the same folks responsible for giving Nashville another season. Reba is a hardworking woman who has appeared in every entertainment medium. If I am thinking correctly, this is the first show starring Reba that has been canceled. You’re in my prayers, Reba.

Darius Rucker Performs Up on the Hill
Up on the hill high above Nashville, tasty treats were served from Husk Restaurant to support the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy. Darius Rucker, seated with his guitar on the pool deck, entertained the guests with a view of downtown Nashville.

Food from the Husk on Rutledge Hill, a restaurant opening later this month, was served at the incredible abode of Fletcher Foster and Dennis Johnson. Among those attending the event were Rhonda Adkins (Trace’s wife), Grand Ole Opry manager Pete Fisher and wife Hope and the always wonderful Dierks Bentley.

The Cowboy Releases More Great Music
The great George Strait has released Love Is Everything, his 40th album. It features 13 new songs, including three he co-wrote with his son Bubba and his all-time favorite songwriter, Dean Dillon. Strait penned one song solo, “I Just Can’t Go On Dying Like This.”

So far, the Strait Man has sold 68.5 albums. I do love that cowboy!

Toby Keith Golf Classic Raises $1 Million
The recent Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic in Norman, Okla., raised more than $1 million for the OK Kids Korral, an extended-stay facility for families with children being treated for cancer. Almost $500,000 of the total was raised during an auction featuring Toby and comedian pal Rodney Carrington as auctioneers. The OK Kids Korral is scheduled to open this year in Oklahoma City.

Toby will also receive the National Music Publishers Association’s 2013 Songwriter’s Icon Award during ceremonies in New York City on June 12.

Amy Grant Dedicates New Album to Her Late Mother
“I feel like I’ve cooked a big meal with all of my best recipes and said, ’Come eat,'” Amy Grant says. Her new album, How Mercy Looks From Here, was 10 years in the making. It’s dedicated to her mother who told her to “sing something that matters” shortly before she died in 2011. Amy took her mother’s words to heart and called in several famous friends to perform on the album, including James Taylor, Carole King and Sheryl Crow, plus Eric Paslay, Will Hoge and her favorite songwriter — husband Vince Gill. I feel another Grammy coming for Amy.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: [news id=”1707597″]Beef Curry.[/news]