(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.)
Driving up the narrow, winding road near Nashville, we'd now and then get a glimpse of a house of logs that reminded me of a faraway mansion on the side of a rocky knoll near Lake Placid. Nestled among lush greenery and flowering trees and plants is the residence of Brad and Kimberly Williams-Paisley, the cutest couple in all of show biz.
Far away from the roar of vehicles on the interstate, the hundred-plus acre spread is a lot like having West Virginia in Tennessee. It's heaven on earth for Brad and Kimberly and their young sons, Huck and Jasper. It took my breath away!
Bulldozers of all sizes are at work digging a very deep hole that will eventually be a manmade lake. My grandson, Jeremy, and I sat on the front porch with the couple and 3-year-old Huck, whom I am deeply in love with.
Enjoying his time at home, Brad will hit the ground running in a couple of weeks as he launches his summer tour with Darius Rucker, Justin Moore, Josh Thompson, Steel Magnolia and Easton Corbin. Fans, you can look far and wide, but you'll never find a better concert than Brad's. And I am bragging when I say I don't have a better friend than Brad Paisley.
Remembering the Miners and Their Families
While channel surfing on April 25, I came across C-SPAN's telecast of the memorial service in Beckley, W.Va., for the 29 miners who lost their lives in the recent coal mining disaster. There were so many touching and meaningful moments, like Matt Jones singing Vince Gill's "Go Rest High on That Mountain." The rugged mountains where those 29 workers were born, lived, loved and died fit the lyrics of Vince's song. The chorus goes: "Go rest high on that mountain/Son, your work on earth is done/Go to heaven a-shoutin'/Love for the Father and the Son."
Sad-faced women left to carry the load are of strong American mountain stock. They will plant their gardens while they dry their tears. And they will be ever mindful that their loved ones turned on the lights and heated the houses in this country and the world. President Obama and Vice President Biden were there, and both men spoke beautifully, offering words of praise for the fallen and words of thanks and encouragement to the families. And as the congregation wailed "Amazing Grace" the president embraced grieving widows and weeping children. It was a touching scene -- one I'll never forget.
God bless the miners.
Songwriters Invade Key West
My friend, Gina, called last week to remind me that she and her hubby, Eugene, and friends were safe and sound in Florida for the Key West Songwriters Festival. She told me, "We were headed for the Subway shop when this shiny new huge Harley came to a stop in front of the building. Who gets off? It was Randy Houser! We told him we were in Key West to see the singers, especially him."
Randy, being the nicest guy around, was kind to the homefolks. Gina did throw in that she and I are heart-to-heart friends. I wish I was in Key West with Gina and all the songwriters.
Mark Chesnutt Gets High Marks From Veteran Musician and Producer
Mark Chesnutt is blessed with a powerful voice that puts him in a class with some of country music's greatest singers. Mark named his first son Waylon, so it did not come as a surprise to me that he'd record an all-American "Outlaw" album featuring songs by his heroes -- Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Producer Pete Anderson, who previously produced and played guitar for Dwight Yoakam, claims Mark put on a vocal display in the studio unlike he'd ever seen before. Says Pete, "Mark stood in front of the mic and sang the whole album beginning to end flawlessly." He added, "There may be singers out there as good as Mark, but there's none better."
Opry Crowd Goes Wild for Loretta Lynn
I recently ventured out to the Grand Ole Opry with Mr. Magic -- Michael McCall, who does my hair and makeup for CMT's Southern Fried Flicks. I went to hang with J.D. Cannon, who has been on staff at WFMS Radio in Indianapolis for 31 years. We did our bit on the stage and stepped back to allow the great Loretta Lynn to go front and center. Loretta was as great as I've ever heard her. And let me tell you, when she went into "Coal Miner's Daughter," the crowd went wild. That audience knew that song was for the folks in East Kentucky not far from Loretta's home in Butcher Hollow. Long live the great Loretta Lynn.
We'll have all the goods on Toby Keith when he returns from visiting troops on a USO tour that has taken him to South Korea, Germany and the Persian Gulf. Thanks, T.K.
And as I type this, Darryl Worley is overseas with the Stars for Stripes organization on his We've Not Forgotten tour. He'll perform several full band concerts and some acoustic sets at various bases in Iraq. This is Darryl's eighth tour for the troops. Thanks, Darryl.
The annual T.J. Martell dinner in Nashville was a raving success, raising $416,000 for innovative cancer research at the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. Attendees included Martina McBride, Jamey Johnson, Blake Shelton, Jewel, Luke Bryan, Danny Gokey, Big Kenny Alphin, Kellie Pickler, Sarah Buxton, Whitney Duncan, Phil Vassar and a passel more.
Critics and radio are buzzing with praise of Dierks Bentley's bluegrass-influenced project, Up on the Ridge.You won't be forgetting this album.
Lady Antebellum's second album, Need You Now, is certified double platinum, and the title track has just gone triple platinum. And the hot trio sold out their first headlining show in New York City at the Nokia Theater.
Look for Miranda Lambert and her mother gracing the cover of Country Weekly's Mother's Day issue in stores now.
Wynonna's next release will be available exclusively at Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores and will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Love Heals is a collection of Wy's top hits along with three unreleased songs.
Be listening for Trace Adkins' new single, "This Ain't No Love Song."
Jake Owen is planning his first-ever official fan club party on June 11 at 12th & Porter, a music venue in Nashville. The event is free for active fan club members. Later this month, Jake will hit the road to open some shows for Miranda Lambert.
Diamond Rio's Team Rio raised more than $135,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee during the recent Country Music Marathon. Vocalist Marty Roe and guitarist Jimmy Olander led the 175 Rio runners finishing the half-marathon.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Taco Dip.