(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.)
About 10 years ago, Evan and Jaron -- the Georgia-born twins from the Lowenstein family -- played a gig at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville club in Key West, Fla., which led to a touring gig with Buffett. That led to a record deal for the identical pair. After one of their songs, "Crazy for This Girl," was featured on TV's Dawson's Creek, it became a big hit for them. They opened concerts for Sting and the Dixie Chicks and could see the paved road to pop stardom ahead.
These days, Jaron is solo, but he's recording and touring as Jaron and the Long Road to Love. And he's doing quite well, too, with fans flocking to iTunes and buying enough copies to push his new album, Getting Dressed in the Dark, to the top of the website's downloads chart. And he scored a big radio hit with the single, "Pray for You."
Jaron and the Long Road to Love will appear Tuesday (July 27) on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, but he recently visited my kitchen to tape an episode of CMT's Southern Fried Flicks.
Jaron tells me he's counting his "frans" -- his word for friends who are fans. They're the loyal followers who requested the single on radio and also requested the music video featuring actress Jaime Pressly. They're the ones who kept up with Jaron on MySpace and made the single a hit.
Yes, Jaron is solo, but I saw a photo of him with his brother Evan and still cannot not tell them apart. Evan, who's in the business end of music these days, has three children -- the oldest being 7.
Remember Hank Cochran and Fred Carter Jr.
Two very important people left us during the same week, and they'll never be replaced. The incredible Hank Cochran, co-writer of Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," George Strait's "The Chair" and numerous other hits, died July 15 following a battle with cancer. Guitarist, producer and songwriter Fred Carter Jr. died July 17 of complications from a stroke. Carter, a prominent session guitarist in Nashville and Los Angeles, was the father of country singer Deana Carter.
Were it not for these two men and others who are equally important, the foundation of country music would not have stood firm all these years. The old crowd at Pamper Music publishing -- Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and their cronies -- deserve a movie to be made about their life and times.
I Received a Kinky Phone Call
When my phone rang the other evening, the caller ID showed an area code I didn't recognize, but that's not uncommon when I'm hearing from my longtime friend, Kinky Friedman. Kinky does not stay put like most of us. He does have a mailbox, phone and house in Texas. You can usually find him through one of those places, but he does like to travel a lot.
I met Kinky on Music Row in the '70s when he'd recorded an album and, like a blue zillion others, wanted to be a singing star. Kinky was different. He was a clever sort of poet. His lyrics were for thinkers. Little darlings, mountains and mamas were not in Kinky's vocabulary. Instead, Kinky wrote about Charles Whitman, who shot and killed 14 people and wounded 32 others during a shooting spree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1966, and Ol' Ben Lucas, a character afflicted by ... well ... mucus. "Sold American," maybe his best song, is about how we remember yesterday and still hope tomorrow may be better.
I didn't ask Kinky where he was when we spoke, but it was good to hear his voice saying he was heading out again in the Kinky-mobile for the great Northwest with Little Jewford and Washington Ratso, along with Billy Joe Shaver and Billy Bob Thornton. Since Billy Joe was found innocent in a shooting incident in Waco, Texas, Kinky noted, "We call Billy Joe the 'Waco Kid.'"
I told Kinky I'd tell our mutual friend, Chet Flippo, he'd be heading to Music Town in October. We then hung up our phones, and I went to bed. The next morning, I turned on the TV to watch Imus in the Morning but went right back to sleep. The next voice I heard was Kinky's. "Am I dreaming?" I wondered. Did Kinky and I talk all night? I opened my eyes and realized I was actually hearing Kinky talking to Don Imus on the TV show.
Kinky ran for governor of Texas, and I'm sorry he didn't win. He loves Texas and tried hard to win. He ran a fair race, but politics are as fickle as the music biz.
Kenny Chesney Scores With "The Boys of Fall"
These days, it often takes five or six months for a country single to reach the Top 20, but Kenny Chesney's "The Boys of Fall" debuted at No. 17 on last week's Billboard chart. It looks like one of his strongest singles yet, and I predict the song will be played at pro football games, college games, high school games and elementary school games. It looks like a home run -- maybe the first for a song about football. It's the first single from Kenny's new album, Hemingway's Whiskey, set to be released on Sept. 28.
Hot Lady A Gets Hotter
Lady Antebellum's last date on Tim McGraw's Southern Voice tour is Aug. 7 in Toronto. The smoking-hot threesome will then travel overseas to headline their first London show on Aug. 11. Lordy me! They're not going to have time to do their laundry before crossing the pond.
Trace Adkins, the Actor
I am so proud of Trace Adkins. I see where he's joined the cast of The Lincoln Lawyer, a film starring Matthew McConaughey. "My role is just a couple scenes," drawled Trace. "I enjoy acting if I have time. I have fun doing it. This just takes three days out of my schedule." The film also features Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe and William H. Macy.
Brad Paisley Offers Foreign Insight
Did you know country music fans in the United Kingdom are not limited to hearing only hit singles on the radio? I was surprised to learn this while talking with Brad Paisley last week. In explaining that the radio stations there play all the songs from a CD, he said, "The fans sit and sing every song. It's amazing. They know every song and sing along."
John Rich and Love Circle
When I heard John Rich was having a mansion built high on Love Circle, a street in Nashville, the first words out of my mouth were, "How on earth can the wonderful country music fans riding on tour buses get up that narrow road?" Well, push has come to shove with neighbors complaining and a few governing officials scratching their heads. One of those officials said, "This is Music City. Fans are on those buses. We need the fans. They buy our music."
Keep the music playing and keep the fans coming. Build the buses a place to stop!
Will Paul Worley Repeat History With Stealing Angels?
Paul Worley has a knack for working with trios. If he has the same luck with Stealing Angels, a group he's signed and is producing for his new Skyville Records, as he did with the last all-female trio he signed to a label and produced, we'll be hearing more about it. The last one was the Dixie Chicks. Stealing Angels feature two blondes (Caroline Cutbirth and Jennifer Wayne) and a brunette (Tayla Lynn). Tayla happens to be the granddaughter of the legendary Loretta Lynn.
Oh, and while Paul didn't sign this other act, he's had quite a bit of success lately co-producing another trio -- Lady Antebellum.
Check Out My Personal Website
Friends, welcome to my new website at www.hazelsmith.net. I should mention that Hot Dish will continue to appear here each Monday at CMT.com.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Neiman Marcus Cake.