(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.)
He had a few days in town, so my friend Josh Thompson checked in with me. I consider Josh to be one of our most interesting newcomers, so it was great to hear from him.
He's been writing songs lately with Rhett Akins, Rivers Rutherford and Phil O'Donnell (aka Philbilly) and just finished up Brad Paisley's H2O tour Saturday (Sept. 25) in Colorado. He'll hardly be able to take a breather before hitting the road Friday (Oct. 1) to open a series of shows for Hank Williams Jr.
Josh says he's blessed, and I have to agree. In addition to playing his music in huge venues each night, the touring has given him an education.
"Working with Brad has been a great experience," Josh told me. "The opportunity to play in different cities and different states I'd never been to ... getting to play before thousands of people. Brad, he's at the top of his game, yet he's real accessible. He's got no big head -- real good guy. And just a super talent. Great guitar player, great songwriter. He has a way about him that keeps his songwriting and his performing in the range of country. That's what I like about the guy."
During Brad's tour, Josh shared the stage each night with Steel Magnolia and Easton Corbin. He says it was a perfect combination.
"No one was in competition with the other," he explained. "Easton is like a George Strait singer. Steel Magnolia is a popish duet with sexy camaraderie onstage. Really good stuff, but no one is like the other. Brad must have had that figured out beforehand."
"And you?" I inquired.
"Well, I had 30 minutes, keeping up the tempo, moving as fast as I could to let the fans know what my record sounds like," he said. "I would perform seven songs, and I tried to give my best in that amount of time."
Josh recently scored his first ASCAP award for "Beer on the Table," but he was on the road, so his publisher picked up the trophy. Josh was on his way to finally get the trophy when he called and was he ever excited. "Can't wait to see it!" he exclaimed.
He has built his career with the help of three women.
"My publisher at Monument is a woman, Stephanie Cox," he explained. "My A&R person at the record label is a woman, Renee Bell. My manager is a woman, Julianne Drenon. You can't beat a hardworking woman. There's three of 'em right there. I'd say three of the best."
Josh said he'd made it home to Wisconsin this summer for a show with Montgomery Gentry at the Wisconsin State Fair. His sister and her kids made it to the concert, but his mom wasn't feeling well that night. He finally arrived at his mom's house at 1 a.m. No matter how she felt earlier, like any good mama, she stayed up late to see her son. She cooked one of his favorite meals -- eggs and pancakes. The next day, she grilled steaks and made potato salad.
"Nothing like a good home-cooked meal," he laughed.
Josh says there's nothing like country music fans, and he wishes he could meet all of them. He explained, "There's three aspects of country music -- artist, song and radio. Without the fans, none of these could exist. Country music fans are awesome."
His greatest thrill?
"Playing the Grand Ole Opry," he said, adding, "and, of course, appearing on CMT's Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith!"
Now there's a man after my own heart.
Kid Rock's $40,000 Waffle House Visit
A judge in Georgia ordered Kid Rock and his crew to pay $40,000 to a 41-year-old man who claims they roughed him up during a scuffle at an Atlanta-area Waffle House in 2007. Kid Rock says the plaintiff was asking for almost $3 million in punitive damages.
"At the end of the day, they wanted $2.9 million and they got $40,000," he told MTV News. "I consider that justice done."
Shania Twain Writing Memoir
Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster has inked a deal with Shania Twain for her memoir. Most of Shania's childhood and young adult life was documented when she signed her record deal with Mercury. Her parents were divorced. She and her sister lived with their mom and stepfather. There were also two half-brothers and a half-sister in the household. Shania's mother and stepfather were loggers who were killed in an accident in their truck in 1987. After that, Shania took care of the family.
She met Robert J. "Mutt" Lange in 1993 at Fan Fair in Nashville. The couple were married and have one son, Eja, now 10 years old. With Mutt at the helm, Shania's career took off with a zoom. She's sold more than 80 million albums worldwide. The couple divorced in June 2010.
Rain Can't Stop Dierks Bentley
The pouring rain in Seattle on Sept. 18 could not stop Dierks Bentley's Miles & Music for Kids motorcycle ride and concert. Riding a motorcycle in the pounding rain is not his favorite thing to do, but Dierks was determined it would not deter him or the 5,000 people who either came along for the ride or attended the concert. Together, they raised more than $50,000 for Seattle Children's Hospital.
He'll be bringing the event back to Nashville on Oct. 17. His guests will include Miranda Lambert and Jerrod Niemann.
Blake Shelton Headlining CRS Event
Country Radio Broadcasters Inc. and the Academy of Country Music have announced that the ever-so-wonderful Blake Shelton will headline the 2011 Music City Jam on March 2 during the annual Country Radio Seminar.
One of the hottest artists in country music, his sense of humor and No. 1 hits have endeared him to fans and radio, but it's taken a long time for Blake's career to reach its current level. He'd score a No. 1 -- and the next single would die on the vine. Lately, however, he's seeing the world from the top of the charts and has earned the household name he surely deserves.
Hey, Blake will have the crowd in the palm of his hand during the private event for the radio industry.
Come Fly With Taylor Swift
CMT and MTV Networks will host an international streaming event and online contest to celebrate the release of Taylor Swift's new album, Speak Now, at the United Nations in New York City on Oct. 25. That just happens to be the day she's releasing the album. The online contest -- at www.WinWithTaylor.com -- offers fans the opportunity to see Taylor perform live in New York and join her on a cross-country flight to Los Angeles, when they will have the chance to talk to the superstar during the trip.
Big Kenny Has Bigger Family
Big Kenny, wife Christiev Alphin and their son, Lincoln, recently welcomed 9-month-old Dakota Jefferson Holiday Alphin to the family. Big Kenny says Lincoln, now 4, is excited about his new adopted brother.
Miley Bangs Up Mama's Car
Miley Cyrus allegedly banged up her mama's Mercedes by hitting a parked car in Los Angeles. The owner of the other car, a restaurant parking attendant, claims Miley smacked his '91 Toyota Camry. Since she left her phone number with the attendant, it does not constitute hit and run.
Hey, that Camry had to be on its last leg. And as for mama's fancy car, Miley's money paid for that!
By the way, I read where Miley attended ex-boyfriend Nick Jonas' 18th birthday party. Can teen love rekindle?
Did you catch Jewel during her recent appearance on America's Got Talent? She and Michael Grimm, the winner of the TV competition, did a duet of Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee." They did a knock-out job of Kris' classic song. And Jewel was looking just great, as usual.
Did you see where a trip to the Grand Ole Opry was offered on the The Price Is Right? Now, those folks are getting real classy, I think.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Quick Pecan Roll.