(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.)
I understand that actor Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift were spotted together in Music Town during the long Thanksgiving weekend. They were seen picking up some coffee and lunch at the Fido coffee shop and eatery in our town -- Nashville!
My Hot Dish column was written and ready to run when I found out about this, but I had to add a quick mention of the news. It makes you wonder, though.
Has Hollywood Jake got more nerve than sense? Doesn't he know Taylor dates and sings about it in a song?!
Waylon Jennings was great in so many ways. His music stands on its own, but you may not know that when his son, Shooter, started kindergarten, Waylon followed the school bus to school every morning. Just as wonderful was the fact that before Shooter started school, he and Waylon sat in front of the TV and watched Sesame Street together.
Waylon liked Boss Hogg, the Duke boys, Uncle Jesse and Daisy on The Dukes of Hazzard. He'd go upstairs into the studio at the Glaser Studio with engineer Kyle Lehning to record his parts for the Dukes TV show. Waylon enjoyed work.
In the '70s, so many people were lazy in Nashville, but not Waylon. Yep, he enjoyed marathon pinball games with Captain Midnight and the boys. But he also enjoyed filling concert halls and arenas where he'd sing his heart out to his fans. Nobody could do it better than Waylon. Nobody tried because they knew he was the best. As teens, my two sons saw Waylon in concert and talk about it until this day. Waylon had that effect on people of all ages.
Waylon died in 2002, but the news came last week that Shooter, Waylon's wife Jessi Colter and a fellow named Witt Stewart of Scatter Records have combined their talents for a tribute record, The Music Inside: A Collaboration Dedicated to Waylon Jennings. Set for release on Feb. 8, the project will be distributed and promoted by the Valory Music Co., part of the Big Machine Label Group. It's the first of three volumes featuring an all-star cast of great singers and musicians performing some of Waylon's most famous material. This first volume contains 10 songs plus a bonus track.
The first song on the album is Waylon's very first No. 1 single, "This Time," sung by a fave of mine, the incredible Jamey Johnson. It's followed by Waylon's self-penned "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way." Can you believe Alabama came out of retirement and performed together again for the first time since they sorta quit?
Randy Houser, another singer I like a lot, performs "I'm a Ramblin' Man," Shooter sings "Belle of the Ball" and Jessi and Sunny Sweeney harmonize on "Good Hearted Woman." The good-singing James Otto performs "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand." John Hiatt does a duet of "Just to Satisfy You" with Waylon. Longtime pal Kris Kristofferson and Patty Griffin do "Rose in Paradise," penned by Waylon and Billy Joe Shaver, Trace Adkins sings "You Ask Me To" and there's also Waylon's recording of "Go Down Rockin'."
Anybody who loves country music knows full well that Waylon added as much or more to the genre than anybody in history. Thank God, I was close enough to hear most of his music while it was still just a demo recording. And even demos were great when Waylon did them. He called everybody Hoss, but Waylon was the real Hoss. I will always miss him, and I can't wait to hear the entire tribute album.
Eddie Montgomery Update
Along with other fans, I'm sending love and prayers for healing to Eddie Montgomery and his family. He'll undergo surgery for prostate cancer in December.
I spoke with Eddie via phone, and his attitude is great. He just wants the surgery done and over with. Fans, he said to tell you he really appreciates your prayers.
Montgomery Gentry will finish their touring for the year with Saturday's (Dec. 4) headlining gig at the ACC FanFest in Charlotte, N.C. They'll perform prior to the kickoff of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship football game.
Is Taylor Swift a Future Marketing Exec?
On the Forbes website, John Dragoon, the chief marketing officer at a major software manufacturer, wrote an interesting blog titled "What Taylor Swift Can Teach CMOs." He begins by stating that Taylor has a future career as a chief marketing officer.
"The music industry's leading lady is on a roll," he wrote. "Her latest release is on fire, and she's leaving her country music competitors, along with every other singer on the market, in the dust."
Dragoon notes that the 20-year-old sold more than 1 million copies of Speak Now during its first week of release in the U.S. and debuted at No. 1. As the New York Times reports, that's 11 times more than what the No. 2 album sold -- and more than the next 61 titles combined.
"But as good as she is as a talent, I'm more impressed with the marketing machine Taylor has become," Dragoon said. "She by no means is the most gifted singer or guitar player, but she knows her audience and she speaks directly to them with her product."
I see in Entertainment Weekly that Taylor was mentioned in the cover story on Jake Gyllenhaal. He's 10 years her senior, but he's a leading man and sooo handsome. Maybe they just went to lunch together. We will see.
Fans and Stars Respond to Brett Eldredge's "Raymond"
With his single, "Raymond," still climbing the chart, Brett Eldredge has already reached some career milestones with his Grand Ole Opry debut and performances at Maria Shriver's March on Alzheimer's fundraiser in Los Angeles and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America's For the Love of George charity event in Nashville.
If you've been moved by the 24-year-old Illinois native's song about an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing home, you're not the only one. "Raymond" continues to generate a buzz.
"I just heard that Brett Eldredge song, 'Raymond,' yesterday and just wept," said the incredible Keith Urban.
"Coolest song I've heard in a long time -- 'Raymond' by Brett Eldredge," said Blake Shelton.
Miley Cyrus Does the Right Thing
Miley Cyrus pulled the plug on singing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" during last week's American Music Awards after rumors surfaced that Poison frontman Bret Michaels, who wrote the song, had an affair with her mom, Tish Cyrus. (Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus are in the process of getting a divorce.)
Miley recorded Poison's hit for her latest album, Can't Be Tamed. Instead of performing the song at the awards show, though, she sang "Forgiveness and Love," another track from the album. I hear that she's also ditched plans to release "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" as her next single.
I am proud of Miley.
Kenny Chesney sold out his sixth stadium show in Boston in just eight minutes. Boston loves the Kenny-man. Me, too!
Keith Urban's Get Closer 2011 World Tour kicks off June 16 in Mobile, Ala. He'll stop in Music Town on Aug. 6.
Taylor Swift has announced plans for her Speak Now World Tour 2011. The 87 shows include two in Nashville on Sept. 16-17.
So complete and so much fun is my friend Dan Rogers' wonderful book, Tune Town Trivia, I had to mention it. The ultimate country music quiz book is a great read.
Billy Currington and singer-songwriter Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds surprised the fans at Joe's Bar in Chicago. They blew the crowd away with "Change the World." Billy and Babyface have been writing songs together.
Meet Joanna Smith
Joanna Smith has to be a farm girl if she's from Crestview, Ga., an unincorporated community in the southern part of the state. Maybe nobody ever heard of Crestview, but it's home to Joanna. When she was 5, her mom entered her in the Little Miss King Cotton Horse Show Pageant. When it came time for her interview, the judge asked, "Now, Joanna, what would you like to be when you grow up?" And she said, "Well, I already am a country singer, a professional country music singer. I just don't get to get up on stage much."
Telling the story, Joanna laughs and adds, "That was the beginning. I had a gig the next weekend singing at the Little Miss Peanut Pageant. That was the beginning of my music career."
After high school, she enrolled at Auburn University, but dreams of a music career were never far from her Georgia mind. Completing her freshman year, she moved to Nashville and threw herself into songwriting while honing her performance skills with a steady job at the world-famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Performing there at Tootsie's for four years, she learned how to connect with an audience.
One day, she made an appointment to pitch demos of her songs to the folks at Sony Music Nashville. As she began to play her homemade songs, they asked if she'd ever considered becoming an artist. Of course, she had. That's why she quit college after a year. It's why she was proclaiming she was already a country singer when she was all of 5 years old. A recording contract with Columbia Nashville made Joanna's dream come true.
Her ever-so-charming Georgia twang and Southern drawl had the men in my kitchen all goo-goo eyed when we shot an episode of Southern Fried Flicks. Watch for our annual Christmas show on Dec. 18 and see just how cute and smart Joanna is.
This girl should make it. She's an "it" girl.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Quick Chick Treat.