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HOT DISH: Thank You, Fans, for Visiting Nashville
Recapping CMA Music Festival and Other Events in Nashville and Beyond
(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 shares her recipes at CMT.com.)

For every gallon of gas you burned, for every dollar you spent for lodging or nourishment and for every one of you wonderful fans of country music, thank you -- you loyal ones -- for coming to the recent CMA Music Festival. (In my heart, it's still Fan Fair.) I am so sorry it rained and rained and equally sorry Hurricane Arlene showed up to bring yet even more rain. But you, the true blue fans, are the ones who don't seem to mind standing, sitting or walking in the rain because you love the music and the music makers with your heart.

I agree with music maker Trace Adkins who said from the stage, "Bless your heart for staying out here in the rain. I'm not surprised. These are the best of the best, the most dedicated fans in the world."

I must say thanks to great music maker, Alan Jackson, the only major superstar who performed at this year's festival.

One of the new events was the CMA Music Festival parade down Broadway in downtown Nashville. Hopefully next year, the big stars who did not attend this year's event -- and they know who they are -- will ride in the parade and throw out $100 bills to fans who traveled from every state in the U.S.A. and 22 foreign countries just hoping to see them.

Big Bucks for Charity

Too pregnant to attend, Martina McBride stayed home, but her annual auction raised $116,000 for the YWCA programs to assist battered women. Jo Dee Messina, Keith Anderson, Miranda Lambert and Jimmy Wayne filled in for the little mama.

Chely Wright's sold-out party at the Wildhorse Saloon brought in more than $100,000 for her charity, the Reading, Writing and Rhythm Foundation that furnishes musical equipment to schools. I say buy a boy a guitar, and he ain't apt to tote a gun! Two members of Chely's old road band -- Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney -- showed up to perform with their current group, Rascal Flatts. Ricky Skaggs and several other acts also appeared.

DukeFest Recap

DukeFest 2005, featuring original members of the The Dukes of Hazzard TV show, was recently held in Bristol, Tenn., and was a rip-roaring success for a second year. For starters, over 100 General Lee replica cars showed up and spun around the racetrack. Good food, good fun and good entertainment by John Schneider (aka Bo Duke), Cooter's Garage Band (Ben Jones played Cooter in the series), Shooter Jennings (his father, Waylon, wrote and recorded the show's theme song) and Ralph Stanley II (son of the bluegrass legend). Other Dukes stars appearing at the festival included Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), James Best (Rosco P. Coltrane) and Rick Hurst (Cletus Hogg). Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) was too busy to attend because he's performing on Broadway in New York.

News From D.C.

Diamond Rio, national spokespersons for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, were in Washington to join Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann in co-hosting the organization's 2005 conference. First lady Laura Bush gave welcoming remarks.

Both President and Mrs. Bush attended the 31st annual American Celebration at Ford's Theatre. Julie Roberts, Josh Gracin and Hillary Duff were invited to perform. The event, a tribute to American troops, will air on ABC over the Fourth of July weekend. Proceeds will benefit the preservation of the historic theatre.

Darryl Worley performed an acoustic set in the East Room of the White House for first lady Laura Bush and other dignitaries during the Senate Spouses Luncheon. Darryl gave them a helping of "Awful Beautiful Life," "I Miss My Friend," "Good Day to Run" and some songs about Texas.

Brad and "Alcohol"

Brad Paisley's current single, "Alcohol," has been called a one-man temperance league, but I don't see it that way. Brad does take the exact opposite approach of songs like Gretchen Wilson's "Here for the Party" and Toby Keith's "Whiskey Girl."

As if alcohol is doing the singing, Brad offers, "I can make anybody pretty/I can make you believe any lie/I've been known to cause a few births/You had some of your best times you'll never remember with me."

One of my favorite lines in "Alcohol" is the one about "helping white people dance." I've seen so many people who will not get on the dance floor until they are boozed up, and then they become a dancing fool.

Brad, who says he is trying to give perspective, not judgment, is a board member of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

Other Messages

Trisha Yearwood has been in Guadalajara, Mexico, with a bevy of doctors and audiologists from the Starkey Hearing Foundation to deliver hearing aids to more than 1,000 underprivileged children.

The legendary George Jones and his daughter by Tammy Wynette, Georgette Jones, appeared together on the Grand Ole Opry.

Brooks & Dunn will host the CMA Awards show for a second year.

Tom T. Hall will preside as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's artist in residence for 2005. He's set to appear at the museum's Ford Theater on three Wednesday evenings in August.

A theater review by hard-nosed New York Times drama critic Ben Brantley read, "A concert version of Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific starring Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell was performed in a state of nearly unconditional rapture." That's no surprise. Let it be known, Mr. Brantley: The lady is a pro.

Fiddler extraordinaire Vassar Clements continues fighting a battle with small cell lung cancer that has spread to his liver. Let's send prayers.

Keith Anderson is the token country music artist included in People magazine's World's Hottest Bachelor issue. The announcement was made on the Today Show where hottie Keith performed his debut hit single, "Pickin' Wildflowers."

John Michael Montgomery has opened John Michael's Hometown Bar & Grill, a 200-seat restaurant in his hometown of Nicholasville, Ky. John Michael performed at the June 17 grand opening. Open seven days a week, the menu consists of steak, burgers, fish, chicken and JMM's personal fave, frog legs.

The great George Strait's 33rd album for MCA, Somewhere Down in Texas, will be released June 28.

Kid Rock came to Nashville to sing "I Saw the Light" at Merle Kilgore's funeral and later visited Christie's Cabaret -- a local strip club -- where he punched out a DJ named Jerry Campos. This past week, the Kid was tried and given a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days, ordered to complete eight hours of anger management class and pay $180 to replace Campos' glasses. Now the DJ is suing Kid Rock (aka Bob Ritchie) for $500,000 in punitive damages and $75,000 in compensatory damages.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Vidalia Onion Pie.
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