(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.)
All the headlines were screaming, "Garth Brooks Comes Out of Retirement." Somehow, I doubt that, although there was a big announcement Thursday (Oct. 15) in Las Vegas.
The tons-of-money man, Steve Wynn, owns Wynn Las Vegas, a hotel with all the extras, including a casino and the Encore Theater. Wynn rolled the dice with our man Garth, and it looks like Wynn did win. Let's wait and see. Garth has yet to roll. And he hasn't lost a game yet.
As much as I wanted to be in the middle of Garth's big announcement, I had to say no. A week ago, I fell in my kitchen and fractured my left foot, so I'm homebound and praying for healing. I almost got to Las Vegas. It made me sick that I missed it because I've never been there. But I did talk with Garth via phone. Here's basically what he said:
Garth told me about meeting Wynn and referred to him as a real nice man. Laughing, he added, "I've met nice men before who made promises that didn't hold up. We'll see about this."
Explaining the plan, he said, "I will perform in the Encore Theater when there's no family birthday celebrations, no soccer games, no school plays. The weekend that all is clear at home, I will perform one show on Friday, two shows on Saturday and one show on Sunday ... 48 shows annually. If for some reason it doesn't work out, I can walk out. Leave. No papers to worry about."
He wants to make sure all of his children are out of high school before he starts thinking seriously about any shows besides the engagement in Las Vegas. He told me loud and clear, "My youngest daughter is 13, and I won't be doing a Garth tour for at least five years."
I don't know how much Wynn is paying Garth, nor do I know how much Wynn paid for the plane that will be shuttling Garth from Oklahoma to Las Vegas. How I wish a Nashville hotel would have made him the same offer. In my heart, I do believe that Garth will enjoy his upcoming performances as much as the audience does. Lord knows, there's a whole passel of musicians praying that when their phone rings, it will be Garth on the other end.
Keith Urban and Friends Raise Money for Hall of Fame
People in Nashville seemed to be smiling with a great deal of pride and good reason last week after the great Keith Urban led an army of artists at the incredible We're All for the Hall concert benefiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I hear that Tuesday's (Oct. 13) show at the Sommet Center raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The music played 50 or more years ago is still as sweet as ever, and it will remain as sweet even 50 or 100 years from now within those hallowed walls of the museum.
"Knowing where we came from makes where we are headed so important," Keith said in explaining why the museum is so very important for today's stars and newcomers.
We must allow this music to live and grow and survive. The history of the music housed within those walls is as complete as any museum anywhere. Only in Music City is there a Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, just a couple of blocks up the street from the museum. Two blocks over is the Musicians Hall of Fame, and across the street is the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall, where country and bluegrass players perform with classically-trained musicians. I'm proud to say the fiddlers are just as entertaining as the violinists. And across the way is the Sommet Center, where major acts from all genres play to sold-out crowds.
Thanks to the ever-so-wonderful Keith Urban for headlining his first All for the Hall, and thanks to plumb perfect Vince Gill, president of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's board of officers and trustees, for always joining in when there is a need. Keith must be so humbly proud that Vince joined him at the show.
Someone said Jason Aldean grinned and said he really liked his sidemen at the show -- Keith and Vince. The wonderful Brad Paisley, like Vince, is always ready to help, too. He joined Keith onstage for "Start a Band." Before performing Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors," Keith announced, "This song is an example of the music that influenced me to come to this country." In addition to Keith, Vince, Jason and Brad, the other A-list talent at the show included Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley and Little Big Town. And they all played for free.
Backstage, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was heard to say, "If you ever want to know what's special about this city, it's here tonight."
Congratulations to CMA Radio Winners
Congratulations to all of this years CMA radio winners. The radio station of the year winners are KYGO/Denver (major market), WUBE/Cincinnati (large market), KUZZ/Bakersfield, Calif. (medium market) and WKSF/Asheville, N.C. (small market).
Kix Brooks of American Country Countdown was named national broadcast personality of the year. In the broadcast personality category, the other winners are Cornbread, Pat James, Annie Henson, Harry Schroeder and Mac "Captain Mac" Douglas of The Cornbread Morning Show on WIL/St. Louis (major market), Jack Ryan of WIVK at Night With Jack Ryan on WIVK/Knoxville, Tenn. (medium market) and Gator Harrison and Greg "StyckMan" Owens of the Gator and the StyckMan show on WGSQ/Cookeville, Tenn. (small market).
If you noticed I left out the broadcast personality winner in the large market category, that's because I wanted to give special attention to Jim Denny, Deborah Honeycutt and Kevin Freeman of Jim Denny and Friends at WFMS/Indianapolis. I shoot them a bit of country music news daily. We've got a slew of great listeners and have more fun than the law allows.
Charlie Daniels Brings Christmas Joy
Charlie Daniels has been celebrating Christmas for years by helping children in Hendersonville, Tenn. He performs a benefit show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and lines up tour buses at the Wal-Mart in Hendersonville. For a small donation, fans can tour the buses. When school is out, the drivers pick up approximately 400 kids and drive them to the store. There's a volunteer with each child as they go through the store to choose a toy and an outfit of clothing.
Joy to the World is the title of Charlie's new Christmas album. The first song on the collection is "Christmas Time Is Comin'," featuring the Grascals. The song was written by Tex Logan, who invented parts for missiles while working at Bell Labs. Tex is a fiddle player whose afflictions prevent him from playing. I placed a call to him in New Jersey, and he was so happy to hear that Charlie had recorded his song.
Dierks Does Another Good Turn
Thanks to the wonderful Dierks Bentley, ringleader of the Miles & Music for Kids events to benefit the Children's Miracle Network. In Nashville, motorcyclists turned out in droves to help Dierks and his friends raise $215,000 at the recent ride and concert. Dierks hung out with the fans and seemed as comfortable as he'd be at a backyard barbecue. Joining Dierks for the ride and the concert were Wynonna, Darius Rucker, Shawn King, Eric Church, Michelle Branch and others.
Taylor Is Tops
Taylor Swift will host and perform on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7. She also leads the pack at the American Music Awards with a total of six nominations.
Congratulations, Taylor. You're the woman.
Tim McGraw Explains Himself
There's a feature about Tim McGraw and his new album, Southern Voice, in the current issue of Reader's Digest. In it, he says when he wrote the first single, a song about a gold-digging woman, his wife, Faith Hill, said, "Well, I hope no one thinks that's about me." Tim replied, "No, baby. Everybody knows you make plenty of money!"
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chocolate Covered Coconut Balls.