(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.)
First off, let's send congratulations to Cheryl White and Billy Paul Jones for their marriage that took place on Labor Day (Sept. 4) at the home of Cheryl's sister and brother-in-law, Ricky and Sharon White Skaggs, in Hendersonville, Tenn. The Whites were my first friends when I moved from Caswell County, N.C., to Music Town in the early '70s, and we remain best friends.
Cheryl, a beautiful bride, was given in marriage by her dad Buck White, leader of the popular family band. I was honored to be a guest for the event, as was John Dorris, the Whites' manager, but it was mostly a family affair. Family friend Alison Krauss sang at the ceremony, as did Reba McEntire's former duet partner, Linda Davis and her family. (You may recall Cheryl singing the harmonies when Alison performed a song from the Cold Mountain movie soundtrack on the Academy Awards show in 2004.) Sharon and Ricky also provided some very special music for the special day, and their daughter, Molly, played piano. We send love and best wishes to two very deserving people, Mr. and Mrs. Billy Paul Jones.
My Friend, Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley is one of the sweetest, kindest, nicest and most talented guys you'd ever want to meet. He called me Sept. 3 from Los Angeles, where he and actress wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley have West Coast digs. Kim has begun taping the sitcom, According to Jim, hubby told me. Brad said he'll hang out in L.A. and maybe visit the set of the sitcom. On previous trips, Brad used to drive to Bakersfield to visit Buck Owens, but he doesn't do that anymore since Buck is gone. He misses Buck.
Brad admitted he's tickled to death over his six CMA nominations and thrilled with the way his career is going. He loves walking out onstage and seeing a filled house at every show. With all his success and fame, Brad had to know all about my upcoming CMT series, Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith, and he wants to be a guest on the show. Isn't that sweet? To tell you the truth, it would be OK with me if Brad moved in! I've followed him from his days of wearing droopy jeans to the skin-tight ones he wears today. Through all the years, I've yet to see him get big-headed or uppity. You can't say that about many people.
The Other Hank
Vince Gill's mama has a favorite singer -- Hank Locklin. His mama loved Hank's 1958 hit, "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On." The 88-year-old Locklin still gives chills when he performs that song. On Sept. 26, he's set to release By the Grace of God: The Gospel Album on the Yell label. Guests on the grooves include the Oak Ridge Boys, the Jordanaires, Jeff & Sherri Easter, Gold City and the ever wonderful Hank Adam Locklin, the elder Locklin's son who hangs his hat at his place of employment, the Country Music Association.
Big Machine's Birthday
Big Machine Records celebrated its first birthday last week with an open house and barbecue at its offices on Music Row. More than 150 guests stopped by for the event. Big Machine and Jack Ingram had their first No. 1 single with "Wherever You Are." Ingram is on the road as the opening act for powerhouse duo Brooks & Dunn.
Brooks & Dunn Feel the Pressure
Speaking of Brooks & Dunn, they're hosting the CMA Awards again this year, but they say it's not an easy position to be in when it's time for someone to announce a category they're nominated in. Here's what happens: Somebody will hand them a piece of paper saying what they should say if they don't win. Isn't that downright cold?
Keith Urban's Monkeyville Concerts
Last year, Keith Urban established Monkeyville, a worldwide online community exclusively for fans as a way to thank them for their support. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, Keith is set to debut new music from his upcoming CD -- plus some past hits -- at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. The two shows are exclusively for Monkeyville members only. I'm told new members are invited to join and can purchase tickets Monday (Sept. 11).
A True American Patriot
Charlie Daniels was on hand for the 107th national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Reno, Nev., where he was presented with the organization's Hall of Fame award. Upon receiving the honor, Charlie said, "America has an unpayable debt of gratitude to those who have fought our wars and guarded our way of life." He told the veterans, "I cannot be your brother in arms because I've never worn that uniform of valor, but I am your brother." For the past 35 years, Daniels has entertained the troops.
Comings and Goings
Did you see where Blake Shelton recently drew the second-largest crowd ever at the Kentucky State Fair? Some 20,000 fans turned out to see the pretty boy from Oklahoma. I do believe that qualifies Blake to get into the superstar parade. The boy is good.
According to Pollstar, the Soul2Soul II tour with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill ranks as the top-grossing tour in the nation so far this year with ticket sales right at $90 million.
Alabama's retired bass player, Teddy Gentry, produced the new Emerson Drive album, Countrified on the Midas label.
For the first time in 40 years, the Browns recently reunited in Russellville, Ark., to help raise funds for a proposed $6 million hospice center. Maxine, Bonnie and Jim Ed Brown got their start in the early '50s and topped the country charts for 10 weeks and the pop charts for four weeks with "The Three Bells" in 1959.
Kenny Chesney knows his road crew contains a bevy of great musicians, so for the last show of his 2006 tour, he invited the band billed as Mostly Crew to open the show in Noblesville, Ind., near Indianapolis. There wasn't an empty seat in the place, and the crowd dug Kenny's opening act. It was a happy night for Kenny, Dierks Bentley and Carrie Underwood. Many of the fans who heard me predict 12 years ago that Kenny would become a superstar were at the concert, and a slew of them have contacted me to compare Kenny's stage prowess to that of Garth Brooks. Lordy, Kenny, do not retire! And that's an order.
Expected to perform Sept. 19 in Nashville for a star-studded tribute to Emmylou Harris are Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews, Patty Griffin and Rodney Crowell. The gala event at the brand new Schermerhorn Symphony Center will feature Buddy Miller as the bandleader. During the evening, Harris will be presented the Leadership Music Dale Franklin Award.
Aaron Tippin recently launched his own label, Nippit Records, and partnered with Rust Records to market and promote his new album, Now and Then. His current single is titled "Ready to Rock (In a Country Kind of Way)."
Jeff Bates has been suffering from a stiff neck! During his first-ever visit to New York City, he stared up at the famed Empire State Building for a long time.
The cutest guy in showbiz, Dierks Bentley, kicks off his Locked and Loaded tour on Oct. 4 in Auburn, Ala. Opening acts are Miranda Lambert and the Randy Rogers Band.
I was happy to get a call from Jackie Peters, the widow of the late songwriter, Ben Peters, whose credits include "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" and "Daytime Friends." She informed me their daughter, Angela Peters Lauer, co-wrote "Broken" for the Toby Keith's Broken Bridges film soundtrack with Angelo and Hillary Lindsey. "Ben would be so proud," whispered Jackie.
I hear actress Academy Award-nominated actress Mare Winningham is talking about recording an acoustic album in Music Town.
See this week's Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Six Cup Salad.