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HOT DISH: Jack Ingram Lives Up to "That's a Man"
More News About Keith Urban, George Strait and Carrie Underwood
Hot Dish
Hot Dish
(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.)

Have you really listened to Jack Ingram's current single, "That's a Man"? The lyrics of the song gave me chills the first half dozen times I heard it. In this day and time, it's not easy to find a real stand-up man, one who knows right from wrong and lives the right way every day simply because it's the thing to do. He not only loves his wife and his kids, they come first. That's pretty much what the song is about.

Jack is proud to be on tour with Toby Keith through March. They're selling out shows, and Jack says Toby's fans seem to like him. "They sing along and applaud my songs," he smiled.

Jack explained that he was in Buffalo, N.Y., for a guitar pull with Randy Houser on Feb. 13, the night a Continental plane crashed near the airport, killing all 50 passengers on board. Jack caught a United flight out of Buffalo about the same time of the crash. He took a deep breath when he told me he made it safely to Chicago where he heard the news of the crash. Then boarded another flight home to wife Amy and the kids in Austin, Texas.

Of course, Jack has plenty of lighthearted stories about his travels as a country musician, too. He told me about the time he rushed to the Austin airport and forgot his stuff. As it turns out, Jack's "wallet" is an American Express card with his driver's license -- both wrapped in money with a wide rubber band. Arriving at the airport ticket counter and realizing he'd left his card and license at home, he was in the process of explaining his dilemma when a baggage clerk recognized him and said, "Aw, I know him. That's Jack Ingram. He's a singer. He lives here in Austin."

They let him on the flight after a thorough frisk, which Jack jokes that he enjoyed. On the return flight, he rode the trolley to his car when he realized, "Oh, God. No money, no credit card, no ID." He sat in his car, trying to explain his predicament to the parking lot cashier, when a guardian angel came up with the $25 to pay for his parking. The good Samaritan got his $25 back, along with every Jack Ingram CD ever recorded and an assortment of T-shirts, caps and other merchandise.

Tune in to CMT's Southern Fried Flicks on March 22 to see just how funny Jack can be. You will hear some Jack and Hazel stories you haven't heard before. For instance, Jack was at my house on Valentine's Eve. He told me he had wired a dozen tulips to his wife. "Tulips," Jack deadpanned. "That's like 'two lips.' I had the card signed 'Lover.'"

Keith Urban Performs for Reporters at Daytona 500
I see where the always-wonderful Keith Urban surprised reporters in the Daytona 500 pressroom with a two-song set to help start the day of racing. "First time kicking off a pressroom," quipped Keith before launching into America's '70s pop hit, "Sister Golden Hair." He also sang his "Sweet Thing" single for the hacks and flaks.

Someone asked him to name his favorite racing movie. "Uhhhhhhh ... Cars?" he stammered. He did not mention Days of Thunder, the 1990 film that featured his wife Nicole Kidman with ex-hubby Tom Cruise. When asked his top speed ever while driving a car, Keith replied, "Never more than 65." After groans and moans from the audience, Keith admitted, "Maybe 130. It was pretty insane. And only for a glimpse."

Since 100 zillion fans watched as Keith sang and played his guitar at the Daytona 500, I get the feeling that by this time next year, he will be a leading contender for having the most-played song in country music. And I wouldn't be surprised to see him win an entertainer of the year award.

By the way, did you hear that Keith and Nic donated $500,000 to help the victims and survivors of those terrible fires in Australia?

The Cowboy Rides Again
It was announced last week that George Strait will headline the June 6 opening concert at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium. He'll be joined by Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton and Julianne Hough. A fan of the Cowboys, George says, "I'm excited to be opening the magnificent new stadium and to share the momentous occasion with all the incredible country music fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area." Cowboys owner Jerry Jones allowed, "We wanted one of the greatest entertainers in the world to open one of the greatest sports and entertainment venues in the world."

Well, now, Mr. Jones, there ain't nobody greater than the Cowboy. You got the very best.

Did You Hear?
Carrie Underwood was at the Ottawa Senators/Nashville Predators hockey game last week to cheer on her boyfriend, NHL cutie Mike Fisher. When she saw a herself on the Jumbotron, Carrie quickly dropped out of sight.

Darius Rucker's country album, Learn To Live, has been certified gold.

Rodney Atkins' follow-up to his chart-hugging, platinum-selling CD, If You're Going Through Hell, is simply titled It's America. You heard the single on the CMA Awards. It's a patriotic song for 2009.

Mining Coal and Kentucky Memories
Ashley Judd was in the crowd gathered outside the Kentucky state capitol last week in support of legislation to put an end to blasting mountaintops to unearth coal.

Maybe some of you remember John Prine's great song, "Paradise," the greatest anti-coal skimming song ever written. It goes: "Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County/Down by the Green River where paradise lays/I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in asking/Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."

The late Bill Monroe once told me a story about his family's life in Kentucky. Years ago, there was no bridge across Green River. The Monroes lived on one side of the river, and the Vandiver family lived on the other side. Long about sundown, Bill's Uncle Pen Vandiver would walk his sister Melissa down to the river where they'd meet Buck Monroe, who would swim across Green River to see his love. Melissa and Buck eventually married and became Bill Monroe's mom and dad.

Music lovers all over the world know Bill wrote the song "Uncle Pen" about his fiddle-playing uncle. Not nearly as many know that Buck Monroe would swim across Green River, wade out soaking wet for a few minutes just to see his beloved Melissa. Now that's a love story.

A Special Note
Funeral services were held last week in Cotton Valley, La., for Marie Coleman Cox, 70, the matriarch of the Cox Family bluegrass group, who died on Feb. 16 following a lengthy illness. She is survived by her husband of 50 years, Willard Cox, who began performing at fairs and festivals in the mid-'70s with daughters Evelyn and Suzanne and son Sidney. Among those attending the funeral was Alison Krauss, who has served as the Cox Family's record producer. Alison also collaborated with the Cox Family on I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, which won a Grammy in 1994 for best country/gospel/bluegrass album. Above all, though, Alison has always been like a daughter to Marie and Willard.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.
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