(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 a week we had with the 2011 CMT Music Awards, the CMA Music Festival and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. Now that the dust has settled in Tennessee, there's finally time to reflect on what happened.
Three of the winners from the awards show -- Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift -- were in Nashville to perform at the festival's closing night concert at LP Field. Did you hear that Blake introduced Miranda as Miranda Shelton at the festival?
By the way, Miranda and Blake spent their recent honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico, at the vacation home of Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock -- a wedding gift to the bride and groom. Blackstock manages Reba, and he and his son, Brandon, co-manage Blake.
Hot as a pistol, Blake's "Honey Bee" single topped Billboard's country chart in just 10 weeks! Miranda has hot news, as well. Her new trio, the Pistol Annies, performed "Hell on Heels," at her fan club party and during the concert at LP Field. Comprised of Miranda, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, these girls are as serious as Sunday morning. Just listen.
Thousands attending this year's CMA Music Festival proved once again that the greatest people on earth are the fans of country music -- and they wear clothes, too. Wearing clothes wasn't on everyone's agenda when Bonnaroo was taking place down the road in Manchester, Tenn. I heard stories about people there wearing just a bandana. In the 98-degree sun at the outdoor festival, it must have been sweaty and grimy and lots of skin. Still, Loretta Lynn and Alison Krauss & Union Station performed at Bonnaroo and got a strong response from the younger crowd.
Good Deeds During the Festival
Country music artists always make major contributions to the community during the CMA Music Festival, and this year was no exception.
Celebrity softball raised big bucks for the City of Hope, an organization that fights cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other serious diseases. Special thanks to Vince Gill, who has played in the game every year for 27 years. Other players included Dierks Bentley, David Nail, Brett Eldredge, Chuck Wicks and American Idol champ Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina.
Josh Thompson and Thompson Square joined host Rodney Atkins for the first-ever Music City Gives Back concert in downtown Nashville. More than $90,000 was raised for the American Red Cross to help tornado victims.
Martina McBride brought in $153,000 to benefit the YMCA. Martina has hosted the charity auction since 1995. Her biggest sale of the day resulted from a $27,000 bid by a fan from Texas who bought the black dress she wore to perform at the reopening of the Grand Ole Opry after last year's flood in Nashville.
Some 450 riders rallied downtown for Ride for a Cure, a motorcycle trek that raised money for the T.J. Martell Foundation and its research for leukemia, cancer and AIDS. Inspired by performances by Little Big Town, Bo Bice and others, the riders raised $70,000.
And while it took place at her stadium concert in Detroit before she returned to Nashville, big giver Taylor Swift donated $25,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Swift and an exec from the Academy of Country Music each presented a $25,000 check prior to her concert at Ford Field. As the ACM's entertainer of the year, Taylor chose St. Jude as the recipient of her ACM Lighting Lives matching gift program which offers artists a chance to donate to a charity of their choice with ACM matching the amount.
Trace Expresses Gratitude to Fans
Trace Adkins did a great job of summing up the attitude of everyone who performed at the CMA Music Festival when he told the crowd, "I think I can speak for this whole entire community when I say we are wholly dependent on the fans, and we take this opportunity to say thanks."
Let me please add a note about the recent fire that destroyed Trace's home near Nashville. His wonderful fans and family friends offered their financial help, but Trace asked that they please donate to the American Red Cross to assist tornado victims. Said Trace, "My wife Rhonda is OK and so are our children. We've lost nothing that cannot be replaced."
God bless the wonderful Trace and his family.
Kenny Chesney's Big Night in Green Bay
Kenny Chesney's recent appearance at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., attracted 45,000 fans at the first concert on the football turf in 26 years. The fans' response hit him like an avalanche, he said. Kenny said he had chills when he sang "The Boys of Fall." And wouldn't you know, Kenny, a die-hard football fan, welcomed Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to the stage. Most of Green Bay turned out and fell in love with Kenny.
At the Opry
Bradley Gaskin was hanging sheetrock in Duck Springs, Ala., a year ago when John Rich found him on MySpace. During his recent visit to the Grand Ole Opry, Gaskin tore 'em up when he performed his self-penned "Mr. Bartender." I'm a fan!
American Idol winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina got a warm reception during their recent Opry debuts. McCreery's debut single, "I Love You This Big," has jumped to No. 25 on Billboard's country chart in just three weeks.
Ronnie Dunn says the best thing about going solo is that he has his own stage. "And there's no hat in my way!" he joked. His self-titled solo album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country chart.
This year's CMT on Tour is set to kick off in September with headliner Luke Bryan and special guests Lee Brice and Josh Thompson. Fellows, I recall when Brad Paisley made this trek. It doesn't seem that long ago.
Flatts Fest is on the road. Joining the Rascal Flatts trio are Sara Evans, Easton Corbin and Justin Moore. Justin's been on the road so much, it surprised me to learn he and his wife are expecting a second child to join their precious 1-year-old daughter.
The Band Perry, Steel Magnolia and Edens Edge are opening shows for Reba McEntire on her arena tour.
Kid Rock, my friend who hosted the CMT Music Awards, had this to say about country music: "Country's kind of opened their arms and said, 'Hey, if it's cool and something good, we're going to embrace that.'" He added, "I think country's blazing the trail on just being open-minded."
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chicken and Rice Bake.