(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.)
Kenny Chesney has crossed the 1 million mark for tickets sold during his Goin' Coastal tour. It's his eighth tour to reach this milestone.
He took off from touring for most of 2010, but he's back on the road and filling arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums. There's no slowing down the young man from Luttrell, Tenn. He's still climbing charts and breaking attendance records everywhere he goes.
God bless Kenny. His recent sold-out concert at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater in Alabama helped the crowd put their worries aside for a little while. Kenny, his band, crew, management and booking reps donated all fees and earnings from the show to a local tornado relief charity.
On the day of the show, Kenny had lunch with University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. The coach's charity, Nick's Kids, donated $50,000 to Project Team Up to help rebuild Tuscaloosa after tornadoes tore through the area in April. Kenny also met with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.
Singer-songwriter Mac McAnally, one of Kenny's longtime friends who was born in Alabama, was on the road with Jimmy Buffett, but he jumped over to Tuscaloosa to help sing "Back Where I Come From" and "Down the Road," two hits he penned for Kenny. Kenny also sang Alabama's "My Home's in Alabama."
CMT Music Awards, CMA Music Fest Happen This Week
Country music fans have been waiting a year, but the week has finally arrived -- the week of the 2011 CMT Music Awards and the CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville.
The awards show airs live from Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (June 8) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CMT and CMT.com. Hosted for the second year in a row by Kid Rock, the show will feature performances by Big & Rich, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Sugarland, Toby Keith and the Incognito Banditos and the Zac Brown Band. It's an impressive list of presenters, too, including Shania Twain, Justin Bieber and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina. Other presenters include Pittsburgh Steelers receiver and Dancing With the Stars winner Hines Ward, Sara Evans, Sheryl Crow, Luke Bryan, Train, Kristin Chenoweth, Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews, Melissa Peterman, actress Mary Steenburgen and Laura Bell Bundy and Ricky Schroder (stars of the upcoming CMT original movie, To the Mat).
After all the awards are handed out, the CMA Music Festival is set for Thursday-Sunday (June 9-12). There's music on the Riverfront Park stage and other areas in and around downtown, but the nightly concert series at LP features a true who's who of country. The short list of performers at the stadium includes Jason Aldean, Sara Evans, Brad Paisley, the Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner, Chris Young, The Band Perry, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift.
Another big event, the annual City of Hope celebrity softball game, takes place Saturday (June 11) at Greer Stadium. Scotty McCreery, Dierks Bentley, Joe Nichols, Vince Gill and Jaron and the Long Road to Love will be joining lots of other country artists to raise money for charity.
Good Deeds Abound
Good guy Toby Keith recently hosted his eighth annual Toby Keith & Friends Golf Classic in Oklahoma and raised more than $650,000 toward the construction of Kids Korral, a home for children undergoing treatment for cancer.
The great Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney are among the sponsors of the Music Row Ladies Golf Tourney set for July 25 in Nashville.
Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton performed two concerts together and raised more than $500,000 for the tornado victims in their native state of Oklahoma. Reba says she's going on a vacation, but she isn't sure where -- maybe the South Pacific or Wyoming. She's concerned about her dad, who suffered a stroke a few months ago. You can rest assured she will continue to visit her Okie parents.
I hear it from fans, read it in newspapers and see it on television -- shore to shore and even worldwide. Everybody's raving about Taylor Swift's near flawless stage show during the North American leg of her Speak Now tour.
Congratulations to Brad Paisley for selling 152,000 copies of This Is Country Music during its first week of release.
Dolly Parton has expressed an interest in performing with Lady Gaga and Madonna. Dolly says, "I'd love to do a duet. Always wanted to work with Madonna, but she never asked. Madonna and Gaga are a perfect fit for me. They are as outrageous as I am. Besides, I was gaudy before they were gaudy!"
Rascal Flatts' "I Won't Let Go" has a message for the masses. Oprah Winfrey used it to say goodbye on one of her farewell shows. When the trio first heard the song, Joe Don Rooney says he could sense God speaking to him. And that is the message the trio want heard by the masses.
The 45th annual CMA Awards will be broadcast live Nov. 9 on ABC.
Big Machine Records' Scott Borchetta and Curb Records' Mike Curb had a different kind of victory celebration over the Memorial Day weekend. The label chiefs sponsored driver Dan Wheldon and car No. 98 at the Indianapolis 500. When the race ended and the smoke died down, they all wound up in the winner's circle. Borchetta and Curb are two men who know how to make money -- and have fun.
My Birthday Surprise
God has blessed me with an abundance of precious people to work with on CMT's Southern Fried Flicks. On my recent birthday, here comes Anna Kim and Audrey Moody through the door with a cake complete with candles. Words of kindness and love were written by the crew, including CMT VP of series production and development Lewis Bogach, Jimmy Corn (the show's lighting director from day one) and his wonderful Matthew Corn (a production assistant), John Lee and Anthony May (my adorable cameramen), precious Michael McCall (who makes me up and fixes my hair to make me look better than I deserve), the ever-wonderful Martha Armstrong (the stylist who sees to me and my clothes), producer Jonathan Mills (my partner in television), Jamie Pfeiffer (the audio engineer who makes me sound wonderful) and, of course, my son Billy Smith (who helps me cook, makes beautiful plates of food and helps me in every way possible).
After the cake and mini-party, I looked at my signed birthday card and wept when I saw the notes from all my friends, including my former best of the best producers -- Shane Caldwell and Dan Clark. Both these men continue to produce for CMT. I adore all of these people. I am truly blessed.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chicken a la Vanderbilt.