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HOT DISH: 30 Plus Years With Kinky, Tompall and Captain Midnight
Departed Ally Creates a Special Reunion of Friends
(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by former Country Music magazine columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel's Hot Dish: Cookin' With Country Stars, she also shares her recipes at CMT.com.)

Over three decades ago, the last time Tompall Glaser, CMT's Chet Flippo and his wife Martha Hume, Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, Roger "Captain Midnight" Schutt and yours truly went someplace together was to the Ryman Auditorium for the Grand Ole Gospel Show hosted by the Rev. Jimmie Rodgers Snow, son of the late legend, Hank Snow.

The show followed the Friday night Opry. We took ourselves down to the mother church of country music where Kinky and his band, the Texas Jewboys, appeared on the show. It was the same night the Reverend made the historic announcement, "Kinky Friedman is the first full-bloodied Jew to ever sing on the stage of the Opry."

This must have been 32 or 33 years ago. It was before Billy Swan married and before he wrote and recorded his big hit, "I Can Help," because I remember him playing guitar and singing harmony with Kinky. I also recall Kinky pointing out another bandmember, Willie Fong Young, as the picking-singing "Chinaman."

Kinky wore a royal blue satin shirt trimmed in gold with a menorah on the back, his Texas cowboy hat and dark glasses. Kinky was no doubt the first person who ever wore dark glasses on that stage after 11 p.m. unless it was Ray Charles, Ronnie Milsap or someone suffering from pink eye.

All the ladies in Rev. Snow's choir were greatly endowed with D-cups, and their hair was teased high up on their head -- as close to heaven as possible. After the performance, one of the sisters, obviously filled with the spirit, bolted across the stage, threw her double cupped chest against Kinky's special guest, Dobie Gray. She folded her arms around his neck as she exclaimed, "Honey, you're pure n-----, and I love you."

On March 19, 2005, we were together again. Tompall (in a wheelchair) joined Chet, Martha, Kinky and yours truly as we gathered at Spring Hill Cemetery on Gallatin Road in Madison, Tenn. Captain Midnight's cremated body was in an urn that was interred into the grave of his beloved wife, Betsy, who died in 1996.

Friends and relatives gathered to say goodbye to the good Captain. Preacher Will Campbell appropriately wore a Waylon Jennings cap, a gift from Jessi (Mrs. Waylon Jennings) Colter. It was the cap Waylon wore into the house the day he passed away. Preacher Will was blessed to say words of comfort, and I was humbly proud when my sons Billy and Terry and daughter-in-law Marilyn blended voices to sing "Angel Band" with an acoustic guitar.

I've watched Preacher Will marry Waylon's son Buddy Jennings, Waylon's drummer Richie Albright and others, and watched him baptize the now rising star, Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings, when he was a baby.

Talking about a man with a loving heart, let me tell you a little about Preacher Will Campbell. He marched with Martin Luther King and accompanied James Meredith when he entered the University of Mississippi. He was a friend to Johnny Cash, and Preacher Will rode on the black bus with Waylon Jennings.

I believe fans of country music need to know about this.

Hot Off the Wires

One of my favorite people on earth, Alan Jackson and his Music Town manager Nancy Russell are calling it splits in the near future. Alan has a co-manager, Howard Kaufman, in California.

Race Fans Angry With John Michael Montgomery

"Race drivers were shaking their heads because John Michael Montgomery messed up 'The Star-Spangled Banner' so badly," said a fan who attended NASCAR's Nextel Cup race in Atlanta on March 20. Fans came away angry. Margie e-mailed, "He was off-key. He had trouble singing the words." Others criticized Montgomery for failing to remove his hat when he sang the national anthem. Another fan asked, "Was that John Michael or Roseanne?" referring to the fiasco when the comedian tried to sing the national anthem some years ago.

On his Web site, John Michael told fans his problems stemmed from a disease known as acoustic neuroma which sometimes seriously affects his hearing and balance. He said, "Everyone has good days and bad days, and it's no different for singers. Unfortunately, my bad day was televised. Based on lack of information, many of you assumed that my less than perfect performance was alcohol related, and I understand how it may have appeared that way."

Said It Couldn't Be Done

Congratulations to Broken Bow Records and Craig Morgan for topping the chart for a second consecutive week with "That's What I Love About Sunday." This is the first record on a small indie label to remain at No. 1 for two weeks since "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" by the Kendalls on Ovation Records in 1977.

Just How Hip?

"Just how hip are you?" I ask. "Are you hip enough to know the great Merle Haggard has been opening shows for the great Bob Dylan? Are you hip enough to know those two ol' road dogs did a five-night stand last week in Los Angeles?" Pretty good, if you did.

"But are you hip enough to know who is playing fiddle, steel, mandolin and any and all utility instruments for Dylan?" I know 'cause I'm hip! It's one of Nashville's best, BR549's Donnie Herron.

Keith Urban: Superstar

Nashville is still abuzz over Keith Urban's three-night sellout at the Ryman Auditorium. Fans went to see Urban and failed to pay a lot of attention to surprise guests who happened to show up like Kenny Chesney who was there the first night to join Keith in singing Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried." The next night, Mindy Smith and Keith did a duet of Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors." LeAnn Rimes and Marty Stuart attended the final show, but all eyes were still on Keith. I predict he's country's next superstar -- and maybe international superstar.

Capitol Records chief Mike Dungan presented Urban some heavy metal -- a double-platinum award for his Golden Road album and a platinum plaque for his current CD, Be Here.

Trace Salutes Waffle House

"It's been like an oasis in a desert many times late at night after a concert," said Trace Adkins. What a great recommendation for Waffle House. Trace has cooked up a summer partnership with the best little all-night eatery on the open road. Trace will meet with radio winners at a Waffle House in Somewhere, USA. Shoot, he is so cool, ol' Trace may even flip an egg or two. Perfect pairing: a hillbilly and Waffle House -- the place that never closes and a place that keeps country stars alive.

Rascal Flatts Celebrate

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is the perfect venue to hold a celebration, so Randy Goodman, Doug Howard and the powers that be at Lyric Street Records honored their team of cash horses, Rascal Flatts, with an invitation-only sit-down dinner Wednesday night (March 23). Around 300 invited guests attended the event that was billed as "6 Million Reasons to Have a Party." With three CDs to their credit, the trio of Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney have sold in excess of 6 million records.

The trio rightfully called their career "amazing." Beginning in 1999, they have repeatedly climbed to No. 1 on the charts and pulled in a host of awards from CMA, ACM and ASCAP. They also serve as spokesmen for the American Red Cross.

What impressed me about the party: Each Lyric Street employee was recognized by name, as were management, record producers, publishers, distributors and executives including CMA's Ed Benson. Making it really special, the group had the musicians who play on their recordings and each and every songwriter who contributed their songs to stand and be recognized, as well. Recognized persons were presented a 6 million plaque. It was a great evening spent where the history of country music has a home.

Guess What?

She hasn't been out and about a whole lot lately. But Trisha Yearwood, one of the finest female singers in any genre, has committed to perform in Indianapolis at WFMS radio's annual Country Expo taking place April 9-10. Also set for the event that hosts around 40 acts are Travis Tritt, Joe Nichols, Mark Chesnutt and David Ball, just to name a few. Lord willing, I will see you there.

That cute Dierks Bentley's self-titled album is now certified platinum. His follow-up, set for release May 10, is titled Modern Day Drifter.

How did I miss the fact that Tracy Lawrence has signed with the DreamWorks label where his old pal, James Stroud, rules? Guess what? The Tracy Lawrence Fund Inc. has raised over $1 million for cystic fibrosis and has funded a lot of projects in his hometown of Foreman, Ark., including a new computer science lab at the high school.

Buddies Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney joined Tracy in the studio when he recorded his next single, "You Find Out Who Your Friends Are."

Better late than never, Kenny Chesney -- aka Crip following his recent ankle injury -- started his Somewhere in the Sun Tour two weeks late with a two-night stand in Green Bay, Wis., this past Wednesday and Thursday (March 23-24). Kenny carries a touring staff of 89, with 15 trucks and even a bus that hauls a culinary staff of nine who feed 160 lunches and 140 dinners each and every day. That is big time. So big, in fact, Kenny and company will hit three 70,000-plus capacity stadiums this summer. I believe that can be termed as rich getting richer.

Terri Clark delivered hospital survival kits to patients and their families at Vanderbilt Medical Center's leukemia and lymphoma wing. Terri is friend of the family of Janet Ross who started the foundation bearing her late sister Lisa Ross Parker's name. Lisa died of leukemia at age 33.

Guess what, fans? I counted 98 acts -- 98! -- already committed for the CMA Music Festival. I will see you in Music City come June. And I'll still call it Fan Fair.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Apple Crunch.
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