(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.)
What were you doing Friday, Feb. 18? Well, you're not going to believe where I was and what I did, but it involves Jamey Johnson and Kid Rock.
By the time my grandson, Jeremy, and I crossed the Cumberland River bridge on James Robertson Parkway heading toward downtown Nashville, there was so much traffic, we could barely move. We left the house early enough to arrive at the Palm restaurant by 4:30 p.m. on a normal day, but this was Friday and the streets were packed with cars because Jamey Johnson and Kid Rock were performing at Bridgestone Arena and Lady Antebellum at the Wildhorse Saloon.
"I wish I was driving," said Jeremy a blue-million times, but I stayed behind the wheel, finally turning left at Third Avenue, where I spotted vehicles virtually crawling all the way across Broadway to Demonbreun Street -- a dozen blocks.
"My God!" I uttered, thinking we'd miss the 5 o'clock celebration. Moving a little at a time, we finally reached the valet and bolted into the Palm for Jamey's party.
Inside, gold records lined the walls. Universal Music Group Nashville chairman and CEO Luke Lewis, a friend I've known so long that neither of us claim to be that old, met me with open arms. Looking around the room, I realized the only other media person there was Cindy Watts, my friend from The Tennessean newspaper. I was happy to be one of the people invited to the event. We sipped, chatted and grazed, and I was totally honored Jamey sent word for me to attend.
"This is Kid Rock's son, Junior," a friend explained. Junior and his friend sat down with Jeremy and me and told us he's entering Belmont University this fall. A nice, well-mannered, handsome young man, Junior said he's looking forward to Nashville but admitted he'll miss Detroit.
"It's home, Miss Hazel," he smiled.
I nodded. I understood. His dad has a place here in Nashville and calls it his second home. But his dad's parents -- Junior's grandparents -- reside in Detroit. Grandparents. Blood kin. That's where his heart is.
We gathered at the Palm, across the street from Bridgestone Arena, to honor Jamey. The party was to celebrate the success of his marvelous album, The Guitar Song. It's been certified gold for shipments of 500,000 copies.
Jamey arrived with his 7-year-old doll of a daughter, Kylee, and his dad. Kylee, a real cutie, is so smart. After being presented the gold album, Jamey passed the microphone to Kylee, who pointed at the award and asked, "Where will we put this?" as she helped her dad hold the plaque.
The boys in his band were there, and Jamey introduced them.
"I've made every one of you earn your money," Jamey allowed. "At the end of the day and you get something like this, you can keep it."
It was so obvious how much Luke cares about Jamey's music and cares for him as a person. Ever since he came to Nashville, Luke had wanted a singer-songwriter that fits into the category of a man's man who writes songs as great as Kristofferson. He has that with Jamey.
I've known Luke so many years, so I shared a short story with Jamey one night when we were at the Exit In club on Elliston Place. Kenny Rogers had come to town, pretty much broke and humble, to make a record. Working at the time at Record World, a music trade publication, Luke looked like he was still a kid. He leaned over to me and said, "I don't think Kenny knows what he's got with 'Lucille.'"
"He don't," I answered.
It's funny, but when Jamey introduced me to his dad, he said, "This is the woman I was telling you about that makes that great pimento cheese." I took that as a compliment. I had party food when Jamey taped Southern Fried Flicks in my kitchen.
When the party was over, Jeremy and I were waiting outside in the rain for the valet when a dear friend walked up and asked, "Where do you think you are going?"
"Home," I said.
"Nope. You're going with me," he replied.
He took me by my hand and walked to the side door of the arena. We went inside and boarded an elevator. He held my hand and guided me down a never-ending hallway into a dressing room -- Kid Rock's!
After finding my breath somehow, I hugged the star. And I must say, no sweeter, no kinder man has ever said hello to me. We had the nicest time chatting. He told me Trace Adkins and Sheryl Crow were coming to join him onstage and added that Martina McBride couldn't be there because she was in Florida to perform the national anthem at the Daytona 500.
Junior and his friend were there. Pretty soon, a couple of other youngsters walked in. The dark-haired, dark-eyed lad with beautiful teeth looked so much like a young Hank Williams Jr., I wondered if it could be his son. So when Kid Rock welcomed him and said, "Hi, Sam," I knew he was the grandson of the great Hank Williams. It was enough to give me chills.
I was thrilled to see Jamey in concert. He's such an incredible songwriter and such a great singer. The audience stood and screamed, and I was so proud of him and for him. Shame on radio for not supporting this great man of words and music by playing tracks from The Guitar Song. How dare you not play the wonderful songs that came from his heart and soul? When someone can write lyrics so touching it makes me (and a lot of grown men) cry, it's the duty of radio programmers to allow that music to be heard.
To describe the concert, I can only say that Kid Rock had a party in Music City -- and the entire town turned out. At least it appeared that way. The superstar hit the stage with Southern rock followed by record-scratching, hip-hop, heavy metal and Kid Rock rock. The all-American crowd went wild as their all-American leader was bouncing off the walls and showcasing his ever-flowing musical range. The crowd, more like a mob, sang along with his hit, "All Summer Long."
Trace did show up, like the Kid promised me, and they teamed up for a wild version of Charlie Daniels' "Long Haired Country Boy." Sheryl Crow followed with "Picture" and a few more tunes while the crowd went bonkers.
Kid Rock brought his Born Free tour to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena and sold out the place.
"Of course he sold out the arena," my grandson Adam remarked. "Rednecks love Kid Rock."
"Hmmm," I thought. "I had to have six grandkids and a great-grandkid to finally realize I am a redneck."
After all that dancing and rock 'n' rolling, you'd assume the Kid went somewhere to rest. Why, no! With good friends Bob Seger (who came to town for the concert) and Sheryl Crow, he went to the recording studio where they laid down tracks for Seger's next album.
When they finished, it was well past midnight, so we can assume it was Mr. Rock's bedtime, right? But nooo! It was time for him to hit Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway. Jamey had already been there and gone. Kid Rock did make it home, however, before the sun came up.
Garth Speaks About Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction
Upon learning he's been selected as one of this year's inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Garth Brooks said, "I want to thank the Songwriters Hall of Fame for this distinguished honor. To consider myself a songwriter is something I find hard to agree with, for it is the songwriter that is the most gifted and most important ingredient in the music formula. I am humbled and flattered by this award and want to thank the songwriters I have written with in the past. I feel it is because of them that I am receiving this award." Other songwriters set to be inducted alongside Garth are Nashville resident Leon Russell, as well as John Bettis, Allen Toussaint and the team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly.
Carrie Underwood's first major motion picture, Soul Surfer, will premiere April 8. She plays a church youth leader in the real-life story of Bethany Hamilton, a teen who lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing.
Readers, you won't want to miss CMT's Southern Fried Flicks, with yours truly, airing March 6. The Tail Spinners, an out-of-this-world band are my guests. Check your local listings under CMT for the movie, The Rookie.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Tomato Gravy.