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HOT DISH: Thinking About Dierks Bentley and the CMA Nominations
More Thoughts About Jennette McCurdy, Taylor Swift and Brooks & Dunn
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.)

All of us who believe, like Dierks Bentley, that bluegrass is country music, too, send a thank you note to the boy from Arizona. Hope you caught the Dierks man last week on Good Morning America when he and Miranda Lambert announced the nominees in the final five categories for this year's CMA Awards.

His acoustic album, Up on the Ridge, is nominated for album of the year, and his collaboration with Miranda and Jamey Johnson on the album cut, "Bad Angel," is up for musical event of the year. Dierks is also nominated in the male vocalist category.

Dierks tells anyone who will listen that when he hit Music Town at age 19, he went to the Station Inn every Tuesday night to hear the wonderful Sidemen, whose Terry Eldredge sang like a saint.

"That's where I learned to sing," Dierks told me. He also says Eldredge taught him to reach into the depths of his diaphragm and sing out.

Congratulations to all the CMA nominees. With nine nominations, I expect Miranda's cup to run completely over. Personally, I love everything about Miranda, including her fiancé, Blake Shelton.

There are lots of new acts on the list of CMA nominees this year -- all deserving, I guess. But I miss Kenny Chesney not being on the entertainer of the year list. He deserves to be there. Dierks and Blake in the male vocalist field look good. I would like to have seen Josh Thompson nominated for new artist.

Welcoming Jennette McCurdy to the Country Community
All of 18, Jennette McCurdy has the drive, talent and creative chutzpah to turn dreams into reality. Already a successful actress in the role of Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon's iCarly, she's also a singer-songwriter who's seriously seeking a career in country music.

Well, honey, you're in the right place. That's what we are: Country Music U.S.A. Just make yourself at home!

Leadership Music Honors Three Legends
Plumb perfect Vince Gill hosted Leadership Music's recent gala honoring Fred Foster, Kris Kristofferson and the incredible Willie Nelson with the organization's Dale Franklin Award for their contributions to the music industry. Vince said Willie is so American, his face should be added to Mount Rushmore. Vince is smart.

Fred Foster owned Monument Records. Artists he signed to his label included Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Billy Swan, Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, Brenda Lee, Willie Nelson, Jeannie Seely, Boots Randolph, Larry Gatlin, Ray Stevens, Charlie McCoy, Grandpa Jones, Billy Walker, Ed Bruce and Henson Cargill. Tell me please, what else must Fred achieve before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame?

During the segment honoring Fred, Dolly looked lovely in a white blouse and black slacks as she sang her first hit single, "Dumb Blonde." Swan honored Fred with "I Can Help," Rodney Crowell sang Orbison's smash "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" and McCoy played his wonderful harmonic instrumental of Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again."

Willie was accompanied by his wife, Annie, and several band members, including harmonica wizard Mickey Raphael. Jamey Johnson was truly spellbinding with "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground." Randy Travis sang "Funny How Time Slips Away," and Lorrie Morgan did a fine rendition of "Crazy." Longtime friend Brenda Lee presented Willie with his award, and Country DJ Hall of Famer Lee Arnold praised him. Willie joked, "I may give myself a standing ovation."

Lovely Lee Ann Womack honored Kristofferson with "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)," and Lyle Lovett performed "Me and Bobby McGee" for his hero. Kris' wife, Lisa, accompanied him to the event.

The evening closed with Willie's "On the Road Again."

Paris Hilton and Country Music?
What does multi-millionairess Paris Hilton have to do with country music? Well, nothing really -- but almost something. See, her current boyfriend, Cy Waits was a hero for a couple jiffies when an intruder tried to break into Hilton's Los Angeles home and he came bolting out wielding a gun like Clint Eastwood or somebody.

But, sigh, the hero scenario took a turn for the worse. Waits, recently promoted to manage the Tryst and XS nightclubs at the Wynn and Encore resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, was driving Hilton in a Cadillac Escalade when he was arrested for driving under the influence near the Wynn. During the arrest, Ms. Money Bags spilled a bag of cocaine from her purse, although she claims the purse wasn't hers.

You may recall that Garth Brooks has been performing regularly at the Encore Theater after the resorts' founder -- Steve Wynn -- lured him out of retirement. Now, Garth has no involvement in any of Hilton's new set of problems, but he was clearly impressed with Steve Wynn's integrity. I'd heard that Wynn has a zero tolerance for his executives who have a brush with the law, and it sounds like Waits getting fired proves the point.

Taylor Swift's Maine Video
I assume that all of you tuned in to CMT for the premiere of Taylor Swift's new video, "Mine." Shot in Kennebunkport, Maine, Taylor wanted to return to the location for the premiere. I loved seeing Taylor and CMT's Katie Cook on the beach.

By the way, I read where Taylor donated $100,000 to her hometown of Hendersonville, Tenn., to help rebuild Kids Kingdom Playground after it was destroyed by the flood in May.

More News
Country music's original queen, Kitty Wells, recently celebrated her 91st birthday at her home in Madison, Tenn., with her husband of 72 years -- the 96-year old Johnny Wright. Here's wishing many more birthdays to a lovely lady.

Did you see Jewel on the Emmy Awards performing "The Shape of You"? She took time off from a motorcycle excursion with her cowboy man, Ty Murray, to appear on the show.

Here are some of BP's latest revenues: $3.4 million at Gillette Stadium near Boston, $813,312 in Indianapolis, $790,782 in Camden, N.J., $769,255 at Hartford, Conn., and $765,433 in Cincinnati. I'm not talking about BP, the petroleum company that spilled the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm referring to Brad Paisley.

A Final Note About Brooks & Dunn
Following their Thursday night (Sept. 2) concert in Nashville, Brooks & Dunn became history as a duo, and I hate it. I do not like change. I'm sending love, prayers and good wishes to a couple of rich friends who did OK together and will no doubt do OK apart. God bless you, Kix and Ronnie. Stay healthy.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Baked Pork Chops.
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