(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.)
Blake Shelton remains at the top of the hayloft these days. He's getting lots of media attention with his new album, Red River Blue, and the project's first single, "Honey Bee," spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's country songs chart. His killer performance of the song on the hit TV show, The Voice, where he served as a coach, only added bales to the stack.
The New York Times writer Jon Caramanica's feature story on Blake, headlined "Country Boy for the Whole Country," was so glowing, it could have been written by his mama, his wife, his manager or me -- folks who love him and his music. Blake was actually called the "spiritual conscience of The Voice" in the article.
Blake, the CMA's male vocalist of the year, was all over TV to promote Red River Blue, his eighth album. I saw him on The Late Show With David Letterman, Regis and Kelly and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon -- and, buddy, he was hot.
Meanwhile, Blake's wife, the wonderful Miranda Lambert, announced last week on Good Morning America that her new album, Four the Record, will be released on Nov. 1. (That's 11-1-11.). Also, the Pistol Annies, Miranda's side project with singer-songwriters Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, are going strong. They'll release their album, Hell on Heels, on Aug. 23 at all digital retailers. The CD will be available at the trio's official website.
Kid Rock Visits With Jimmy Fallon
While staying up to watch the late night talk shows, I caught Kid Rock on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and enjoyed the show. Kid talked about his hometown of Detroit and about his other home, Nashville. He shared a photo of the convertible Audrey Williams (Hank Sr.'s widow) gave her son (Hank Jr.) on his 15th birthday. With the interior all done up with hand-tooled leather and silver dollars imbedded in the dashboard, Kid eventually bought the vehicle after learning the late Webb Pierce had also owned a similar car -- a Pontiac, if I remember correctly. Webb was known to park his car in downtown Nashville while he'd down a few beverages at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. That car really got the fans' attention.
Kid also talked about his son Junior going to college in Nashville this year. After saying Junior was a nice kid with good manners, he joked that, being his son, he didn't understand how he could be such a good boy.
"But he got a speeding ticket," Kid added. "That's my boy. My DNA!"
Speaking of Kid Rock, I see where Ty Stone is getting radio airplay with his single, "American Style." Kid serves as Ty's executive producer, and Ty opened the show at Kid's recent concert in Nashville. Ty was flipping burgers in Los Angeles when somebody handed one of his tapes to Kid. He usually tosses tapes in the trash, but he slipped this one in a slot and allowed, "Who is this guy?!" Kid sent him $500 with a note to come to Detroit to make some music. So they did.
When Kid played the music for a record label executive, Mr. A&R asked, "What does he look like?"
"What does it matter what he looks like?" Kid shot back. "He can sing."
Stork Arrives Twice in Texas
Kase Townes Murray weighed in at 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Born somewhere in Texas on July 11, he's the first child of Jewel and rodeo champ Ty Murray. It doesn't matter what awards Jewel and Ty have won in the past, this has got to be their proudest moment.
Grinning like a mule eating briars, Neal McCoy announced the birth of his first grandchild, Titan McCoy Strong. McCoy's daughter Miki and her husband Trevor are also in Texas with a happy and healthy baby.
Jimmy Dickens Invites Oak Ridge Boys to Join Opry
When 90-year-old Little Jimmy Dickens came onstage at the Grand Ole Opry wearing a hat and fake beard that resembled the look of Oak Ridge Boys member William Lee Golden, the vocal quartet thought he was just playing a prank. But when he invited them to officially join the Opry cast, their smiles turned into watery eyes. The Oaks will be inducted on Aug. 6. Congratulations, my friends.
Awards Show Hosts
For the fourth consecutive time, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the CMA Awards. The 45th annual event will air live Nov. 9 from the Bridgestone Arena in Music Town. Hopefully, Brad will arrive in a timely fashion for rehearsals and hosting. According to Carrie, he lives on Brad Standard Time -- always late.
And great musician and all-around good guy Sam Bush is set to host the 44th annual International Bluegrass Awards (IBMA) set for Sept. 29 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Chris Young says his ultimate goal is that when his career is over and he's six feet under, someone will remember one of his hits and say, "That was my favorite song." Well, "Tomorrow" may be just that. The Top 5 hit is certified gold for selling more than 500,000 copies. His new album, Neon, was released last week.
Rascal Flatts single "I Won't Let Go" has earned digital gold certification for 500,000 downloads.
The very-pregnant Ashton Shepherd made appearances in six cities in five days to promote her wonderful new album, Where Country Grows. If you're a true blue country fan, you will love this record. There's nothing pop about it! Buddy Cannon, who's spent plenty of time in the studio with Kenny Chesney, did the excellent production on Ashton's album.
CMT Crossroads: Train and Martina McBride has been released on DVD. The only other CMT Crossroads episode released on DVD is Taylor Swift's collaboration with Def Leppard in 2009.
Cheyenne Kimball has exited Gloriana. She's been engaged a year to musician Casey Twist.
Black River Entertainment's Sarah Darling has teamed with record producer Dann Huff, who also works with Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts. Smart move.
Chesney, Flatts, Underwood at Las Vegas Festival
The first-ever I Heart Radio Music Festival is set for Sept. 23-24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with performances by Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood. It's a hot country lineup so far, but festival organizers also promise to feature the Black Eyed Peas (who are planning to go on an "indefinite hiatus"), Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson and others to be announced later.
Wouldn't our own Dolly Parton fit the format better than Lady Gaga, who had to have learned some of the tricks of the trade from our very own Dolly? Surely festival host Ryan Seacrest will bring along his girlfriend, singer, dancer and actress Julianne Hough.
For the fans of the wonderful Alison Krauss, Saturday is a red letter day. That's the premiere date for the episode of CMT's Southern Fried Flicks featuring Alison and Union Station bandmate Dan Tyminski. We had such a great time in my kitchen. Dan had never eaten green beans with new potatoes. Imagine that! I must get that boy back out here.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Swedish Meatballs.