(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.)
It was back in 2000 when Kenny Chesney barreled off on a deputy sheriff's horse in Buffalo, N.Y, with the law on his trail. When two deputies tried to remove Kenny from the horse, Tim McGraw jumped into action and grabbed one of the officers around the neck.
Before it was all over, Kenny and Tim had been arrested on a variety of charges, including second-degree assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. When the matter went to trial the following year, a jury cleared both of them of all charges. But the incident backstage at the George Strait Country Music Festival made national news and demonstrated the extent of Kenny and Tim's friendship.
Still the best of friends, these two men are now country music superstars, and they're getting back together on the road for their Brothers of the Sun tour, a 19-date series of stadium concerts that begins June 2 in Tampa, Fla., and concludes Aug. 25 near Boston. It's their first tour together in a decade, and the shows will feature Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Jake Owen.
Kenny had three No. 1 singles before that infamous night in Buffalo, but his career took off like a rocket after that. He even rode a horse onstage for an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
I don't know if it was a matter of scheduling or mere coincidence, but I see that next year's stadium tour isn't taking Kenny and Tim anywhere near the scene of the supposed crime.
Fans, get your tickets early. And, guys, stay out of Buffalo!
Reflecting on the CMA Awards Humor
I keep thinking about the recent CMA Awards, and I have to say I've never laughed as hard and as loud and as much as I did that night.
Poking fun at the Academy Awards, CMA hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood joked that they were available to host the Oscars. But that's not going to happen. Before they could get the message out, Billy Crystal raised his hand and agreed to take charge once again after Eddie Murphy announced he wasn't going to host the Academy Awards after all.
As Brad and Carrie sang the "I'm gonna love you forever" line from Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen" especially for Kim Kardashian, Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet joined them to help interject "72 days" -- the time Kardashian stayed married to Kris Humphries.
With nothing to suggest they knew Hank Williams Jr. was on the premises, Carrie and Brad sang about the recent controversy over Hank comparing President Obama to Adolph Hitler on Fox News. At the appropriate moment in the awards show, Hank poked his head between Carrie and Brad and added a ditty about football and his previous gig with Monday Night Football. The place roared and gave Hank Jr. a standing O. It was a great move on his part as he proved that he's still got a sense of humor.
Brad then brought out a set of Barbie dolls designed to look like Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. He gave the Faith doll to Carrie, and the two pretended to allow the dolls to "make out" while the real life Tim and Faith were grinning from ear to ear in the audience. Brad and Carrie then turned their backs to the audience after Brad wanted to find out if the dolls were anatomically correct.
"There's nothing," Brad said. "Poor Faith!"
At that instance, I got a phone call from my friend Jane, who lives in Florida. She was laughing so hard, she could hardly speak.
"Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood are the funniest people I have ever seen!" she screeched. "This is the funniest show I have ever seen on television!"
One of the highlights was the appearance of Brad's dearest friend, 90-year-old Little Jimmy Dickens, decked out as Little Justin Bieber. Dickens forgot his lines, and Brad leaned down and whispered to him. If Dickens said another word, I never heard it, but Brad hugged the precious little man as he walked slowly away as the audience screamed with laughter.
I read where the CMA has signed a deal with ABC-TV to broadcast the awards show for 10 years. Maybe the CMA should sign Brad and Carrie to host it for 10 years, too.
Visiting With American Idol's Casey James
Frank and Jesse James were from Missouri, but Casey James is from Cool, Texas, about 40 miles west of Fort Worth. Those Missouri James boys robbed lots of banks and trains in their day and spent quite a bit of time right here in Music City down on Boscobel Street, so I've been told.
They grew up with guns, but my new friend Casey grew up with music. By the time he was 13, he was playing guitar onstage with his mom, Bybee James, and later with his brother.
When Casey was 21, he was involved in a serious motorcycle crash. Doctors said he'd never play guitar again, but you can watch Casey's video for "Let's Don't Call It a Night" and see that the physicians were wrong.
He plays well enough that his mama encouraged him to try out for the ninth season of American Idol. Casey had never even seen the TV show, but he made the grade during the auditions in Denver and went on to Hollywood and was a finalist in 2010.
"Did you like Simon Cowell?" I asked Casey between bites of salmon cake while he was visiting my kitchen.
His blue eyes danced when he replied with a laugh, "I'm not sure he liked me. He never did speak a word directly to me."
At least 6 feet 5 inches tall with a head full of blond curls, I cannot describe just how handsome Casey is. He has the greatest personality and a marvelous outlook.
"Just finished my album," he allowed. "We recorded 14 songs. I'm real proud I wrote or co-wrote 12 of them."
Casey opened shows for Sugarland in March. His debut album for 19 Recordings/BNA Records is set to be released in 2012.
Faith Hill's new single, "Come Home," is burning up radio, debuting at No. 35 on Billboard's country songs chart in its first week of release. Also, the beautiful Faith is the only country act set to perform on NBC's Christmas in Rockefeller Center airing live from New York on Nov. 30.
Four weeks after its release, Lady Antebellum's latest album, Own the Night, has been certified platinum for shipments of 1 million copies. The album hit big overseas, too, debuting in the Top 10 in the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Switzerland. Lady A recently kicked off their headlining tour with a sold-out show in Knoxville, Tenn.
From the great state of North Carolina -- like Randy Travis, Kellie Pickler, Earl Scruggs and me -- Bucky Covington has inked a deal with eOne Entertainment Group. The American Idol alum had been without a label since Lyric Street closed in 2010. Bucky's new single, "Wanna Be That Feeling," will be out in January. It's no wonder Bucky is so happy the way things are going.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Salmon Cakes.