(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.)
The first time I saw Brad Paisley perform onstage was at Nashville's Exit In, where the crotch of his jeans was sagging to his knees. His songs -- the lyrics and melodies -- astounded me. His clever turn of a phrase was equal to those of the late Roger Miller.
It must have been a dozen years ago, yet I still remember the lump in my throat when he sang "He Didn't Have to Be," a song he co-wrote with Kelley Lovelace about the loving relationship between a stepdad and his stepson.
Tim DuBois, who ran Arista Nashville at the time, walked over and asked what I thought about his four acts that were performing at the club.
"Brad Paisley is a superstar," I replied.
"What about the other three?" Tim asked.
"They're OK. They're good. But Brad Paisley is a superstar," I reiterated.
"Is there anything about Brad you don't like?" growled Tim.
"Yes," I said. "He's got to not wear the crotch of his britches down to his knees. And I'm gonna tell him."
I did tell Brad to wear jeans that fit his butt -- like the jeans Garth Brooks wore. A few weeks later at Fan Fair, Brad was wearing black jeans that fit like a glove, so to speak, and he was hot. Superstar material.
Brad is now finishing his European tour, and the fans there have gone bonkers when he's onstage. They love his songs and sing along. According to The Associated Press, though, the fans have yet to recognize him offstage. Even at one of his own gigs, a security person asked him if he had a backstage pass. But Brad doesn't take offense. He's just working hard and hoping the marvelous surge in country music beyond our shores will continue to grow.
"Right now, they are starved for the music," he said. "You can tell by their enthusiasm."
I spoke with Brad's wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley to see if she and their two young sons were OK while he was overseas. Imagine how silly I felt when she said, "Oh, I just got back from London!"
Kimberly told me how wonderful it was to see Brad perform at the 02 Arena.
"That's the biggie in London," she said. "The show was sold out. It was great."
"How are the boys?" I wondered.
"Jasper is talking his head off," Kim laughed. "His hair is blond and curly."
"Like yours?" I asked.
"That's what everybody says," she said. "Huck is a little Brad, for sure. The boys look like brothers, but they don't look exactly alike. They stayed with Brad's mom while I was in Europe. We are so lucky to have his parents living in Tennessee. She is so good with the boys. All I asked of her was put them to bed early and give them plenty of veggies."
The best part of Kimberly's trip was that she and Brad got to stay up until 3 a.m. and sleep until 10.
"Like we did before we had kids," she laughed.
I just learned that when Brad was in Dublin, he presented the CMA International Broadcasters Award to Sandy Harsch, the longtime host of a weekly country music program on RTE, the public radio network in Ireland. They tell me she was thrilled beyond words.
Brad had three sold-out concerts in Ireland. The man is a superstar -- a real nice one.
Alan Jackson Performance Will Commemorate 9/11
Alan Jackson will perform at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11 to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks. Although the cathedral sustained substantial damage during Tuesday's (Aug. 23) earthquake, three days of events surrounding the 9/11 anniversary are still scheduled.
I'll never forget when Alan premiered "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," the song he'd written about 9/11, on the 2001 CMA Awards. I don't think I've ever seen as many men weep in one room.
Dierks Bentley's Latest No. 1 Single and Tour
I see where the wonderful Dierks Bentley is celebrating his eighth No. 1 single with "Am I the Only One." Not only is the song tops on the country chart in the good ol' USA, it's also chart-topping in Canada, as well.
Dierks has announced his Country and Cold Cans tour will debut in Lacrosse, Wis., on Oct. 5. The 22-city tour with Jerrod Niemann and the Eli Young Band run will wrap in Denver on Nov. 19. If I know Dierks, while he's on the road, he'll be spending a lot of time thinking about his mama in Phoenix and wife Cassidy and his girls in Nashville.
Jason Aldean Continues His Good Deeds
Jason Aldean has a full slate of touring for the rest of 2011, but one show that is of utmost importance to him takes place Sept. 30 in Roanoke, Va. He'll be donating all proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in its research to cure breast cancer.
Breast cancer has affected so many of us. Right now, a precious lady in our church is battling the disease. With help from Jason and other country stars, there will be funds to find the cure.
Rare Hank Williams Recordings Set for Release
A lot of today's stars know nothing about Hank Williams, his songs or his short life. Long before Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon (the Who) or Jim Morrison (the Doors), there was Hank Williams, the first major country singer-songwriter.
Set for release on Sept. 13, Hank Williams: The Legend Begins is a three-CD set of rare and previously-unreleased recordings that begin with a 15-year-old Alabama boy who was blessed with the vocals of a saint and much more "want to" than good luck. He struggled and tried, pushed and shoved, but he still left this earth too soon. Was it illegal addictions, physician's legal prescriptions or alcohol that took his life?
Yes, Hank died before he reached age 30, but his music will still be alive hundreds of years from now. Put the music in colleges, universities and other schools of higher learning. Keep it playing.
I see where Taylor Swift purchased a house in Nashville for $2.5 million. The 5,601-square-foot home, which has four bedrooms and four and a-half baths, was previously owned by Universal Music Group Nashville chairman Luke Lewis.
Big Machine Label Group president and CEO Scott Borchetta will receive the Spirit of Excellence award during the T.J. Martell Foundation's 36th annual awards gala taking place Nov. 3 in New York City. Congratulations, Scott, but you still owe me a visit in my kitchen with Taylor.
Rascal Flatts' current single, "Easy," is a duet with pop singer Natasha Bedingfield. When they perform the song on the road, their opening act, Sara Evans, sings Bedingfield's part. I'd bet my house and farm Sara out-sings Bedingfield. That's because she out-sings most all female singers.
Have you seen the Tim McGraw and Faith Hill dolls by Mattel? They sorta favor Ken and Barbie, only cuter. They come together as a set for $69.95 and are already on back order.
Chely Wright and gay activist Lauren Blitzer were married at Blitzer's aunt's home on Aug. 20 in Connecticut, one of the several states recognizing marriage between same-sex couples.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Curry Chicken Salad.