(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.)
My grandson, Jeremy, bolted down the hall and into my office like the house was on fire.
"What?" I asked.
Out of breath and excited, he spoke, "Guess who's the special guest host on Raw?"
I didn't know. I didn't even know what Raw was.
"It's part of the WWE," Jeremy informed with a look that said "plain stupid," but he didn't say it. I could tell he was proud and amazed I finally realized he was watching wrestling on television. WWE was the giveaway.
"Think rodeo!" he suggested.
"Garth," I answered.
"Rodeo! Think rodeo!" he said, raising his voice.
"Oh!" I said as my dead brain kicked in. "Jewel and her husband, Ty Murray."
"That's right," he confirmed as he sped back through the living room, dining area and kitchen and back into the den. Pretty soon, I overheard him laughing loud and long. Then here he came again, sliding from the hall into my office.
"You won't believe what Jewel did," he laughed.
I just stared at him standing there like wrestling was true entertainment.
"Jewel was surrounded by this crowd of divas," he said "There's this one gal, Jillian, who tries to sing but is a horrible singer. When Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were on the show, Jillian got in Sharon's face with her awful singing, and Sharon slapped her face. Well, Jillian got in Jewel's face and Jewel warned her that Sharon was her friend -- just before she rared back and slapped her a good old-fashioned one on her face."
I can't help but wonder how much the WWE paid Ty and Jewel for the gig. With all due respect, the Tea Party folks who gathered recently at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville paid Sarah Palin $100,000 to speak! Sarah wrote notes on her hand. The last person I saw who wrote notes on their hand was the great songwriter, poet and author Shel Silverstein. If Palin is worth a hundred grand for an hour, I'd wager Ty and Jewel are worth twice as much.
Lots of Brad Paisley News -- From Brad
Brad Paisley will be the first musical guest when Jay Leno returns to host The Tonight Show on Monday (March 1). Great taste in music, Leno!
There's scads of other Brad Paisley news these days. Big news, too.
He called me on Feb. 22 -- on honest George Washington's birthday. I was glad to hear from Brad who was in California. He'd played four sold-out shows during the previous week in Fresno, Calif., Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. Some of the celebs who turned out to see him at the Staples Center in L.A. included William Shatner, the Jonas Brothers, Sheryl Crow and members of REO Speedwagon, among others. Brad's American Saturday Night tour with Miranda Lambert concludes this week with shows in Knoxville, Tenn., and Greenville and Charleston, S.C. He'll also be performing on March 11 in Texas at RodeoHouston.
Brad is already excited about his next tour which he says he's calling the H20 Water tour. "We're gonna have a dunking booth," he said. "I'll be the first one they dunk. It's gonna be something. Darius Rucker and Justin Moore will open the show."
Thinking I'm half-smart, I asked Brad if he'd heard of Josh Thompson. Brad got quiet. I continued. "Josh is from Wisconsin and is a great songwriter-singer. He'd be a great opener for you," I allowed.
Brad explained, "We're gonna pull in a semi tractor-trailer ... outside the arenas. We'll have Josh Thompson, Steel Magnolia and Easton Corbin performing on the trailer. We'll call it Wide World Plaza with their merch and music and all kinds of stuff out there." I thought I was making a good suggestion, but Brad is already ahead of me by a country mile.
I asked about Mrs. Paisley -- actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
"She's finished a movie for television. It's about those Amish children that were shot inside their school in Pennsylvania. Kim plays the role of one of the children's mother. I think it's the best thing she's ever done," he said proudly. "The movie airs in March."
I miss Brad when we don't talk. I do love him dearly and am so proud of his stage show, his guitar playing, his songwriting, his vocals and his wonderful CDs. He's one person who became a superstar while I watched.
Four Deserving Men Named to Hall of Fame
They're better than great or legendary. They're four men who have given their lives to country music and made it all better by being an integral part of the genre. And they're going into the most hallowed of halls -- the Country Music Hall of Fame.
When I think of Ferlin Husky, I recall the time he stood in the church unannounced and sang "On the Wings of a Dove" a cappella. It took my breath clean away. I was sure I was in heaven. Lord, he's good. That's why two of his hits, "On the Wings of a Dove" and "Gone," each topped the country chart for 10 consecutive weeks.
When I think of Jimmy Dean, I think of black-and-white TV and Dean running the show while bringing on country stars. And, of course, there's his Grammy-winning "Big Bad John" that he wrote on an airplane and sang to the world. Like the other three inductees, Dean's membership in the Hall of Fame was a long time coming.
Don Williams moved to Music Town about the same time I did in the early '70s. He was a songwriter and singer, but he was also wise. Wise enough to record songs from the sure-hit songwriting pen of Bob McDill who provided Don with such classics as "Amanda" and "Good Ole Boys Like Me." My sons and a couple of other musicians once returned from a State Department trip to Nigeria and other parts of Africa and reported there were Don Williams albums for sale on the roadside beside tomatoes and melons.
What can I say about the incredible music made by Billy Sherrill on Columbia and Epic Records? Billy ran the label and produced solo records on George Jones and Tammy Wynette, as well as their classic duets. He also produced Charlie Rich and Johnny Paycheck and signed Barbara Mandrell to her first label deal. Billy liked to use strings on records and talked George into recording "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which happens to be the greatest country song that ever has been. George didn't think anybody would like the song and wasn't sure it would get played on the radio. Today, George calls Billy a genius.
Jason Aldean Isn't Tampering With Successful Team
Jason Aldean remains on an indie label, Broken Bow Records. Some people wonder why he hasn't gone to a bigger label, but I haven't even scratched my head over this one. See, Jason's manager is Clarence Spalding, who guided the career of Brooks & Dunn. Lord knows, those two have made a blooming fortune. And Jason recently grossed $1 million from four concerts! Do not underestimate the label or the singer.
Alan Jackson Revving Up for Album, Tour
Big Alan Jackson is revving up once again with a brand new album on Arista Nashville, his one and only label home for two decades. The first single, "It's Just That Way," is bound to be a smash. Young Mattie Jackson, a straight A student since kindergarten and now a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, wrote the treatment for her dad's music video for the song. And, boy, is Alan proud of that! He said everybody read all the proposed treatments for the video, and Mattie's was chosen by each and everyone.
His new CD is titled Freight Train, and the cover looks like a fancy train is about to zoom off the cover. I've got an advance copy, and it's absolutely killer great. You can buy your copy on March 30. Alan's 2010 tour kicks off on April 8 in Estero, Fla., with opening acts Josh Turner and Chris Young. If you love real, true country music, you won't find a better source than A.J. and his guys.
A Smiling Trace
The biggest smile I saw during last week's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville was on Trace Adkins' face after he was presented the Country Radio Broadcasters' artist humanitarian award. Since 2002, Trace has worked closely with the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network to educate others about life-threatening food allergies. Trace's daughter, Brianna, was diagnosed with severe food allergies when she was 9 months old. He has been a spokesperson for FAAN since 2005 and appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice TV series in 2008 to raise money for the foundation. He has also supported federal legislation that would help schools protect the more than 2.2 million children nationwide who suffer from food allergies.
Garth Keeps Giving
After being onstage for two hours at the Encore Theater at the Wynn Las Vegas, the house lights came up, the show was over and Garth went backstage to eat supper. Fifteen minutes later, a stagehand told him the entire audience was still standing there just like they were when he left the stage. When Garth saw that the entire audience was still standing, he grabbed his guitar, walked back onstage and played another 45 minutes.
Listen, the next time you hear someone snidely remark something negative about my friend, Garth, throw this story in their face. Yep, Garth does make the big bucks but he always gives and gives and gives -- more than anyone.
His next series of shows in Las Vegas are scheduled for March 26-28, April 9-11, June 25-27, July 16-18 and Aug. 6-8.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Brownies (For 50).