(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.)
There's not a nicer and more talented person in showbiz than Brad Paisley. I was so happy to have Brad as my guest on the new episode of CMT's Southern Fried Flicks that airs Dec. 24.
Brad's fans will want to tune in to see Brad and myself having more fun than the law allows. He's eaten my green beans in the past, but he was ready for several helpings last week when he visited my kitchen.
We talked about his book, Diary of a Player, the story how Brad's love of music evolved from age 8 when he began playing the Sears guitar his Papaw gave him and his first performance in church of "Life's Railway to Heaven." Brad played lead guitar with a band of older men with Hank Goddard egging him on.
Papaw passed away when Brad was 14. To say it broke his heart is putting it mildly. But he kept playing with Hank, and the guys eventually earned spots on the Wheeling Jamboree with Nashville folks like Charley Pride, Little Jimmy Dickens, Steve Wariner and others.
Brad also talked about fishing with Dickens and how he and Buck Owens became great buddies. Brad celebrated four New Year's Eves with Buck and is so thankful he had the opportunity to spend time with one of country music's greatest Hall of Fame members. Buck always talked to Brad about saving his money. When Buck died, in his honor, Brad used a free ticket voucher to fly out to Bakersfield, Calif., for the funeral. Brad thinks Buck would have appreciated his frugal nature, even when he was going to his funeral.
Picture this: The great Brad Paisley and myself seated on stools at my kitchen counter, eating meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, green beans and chocolate pie. And all the while, Brad is raving aloud why nobody makes green beans like yours truly. Of course, I loved that part. I'd strung those beans and washed then good and cooked them with good seasonings until they were pure perfect.
His band, road crew and their families were all in the Bahamas for a week as a Christmas present from their boss man. Oh, yes, I told Brad how proud I was of him to fly those hardworking people to the islands.
Brad was one of the five acts honored during the recent CMT Artists of the Year special,
which I enjoyed very much. Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney were also honored. I'll tell you right now, that is a crop of winners if I've ever seen one.
Lastly, I never dreamed a member of my own family would just haul off and step between Brad and me, but she did! Six-year-old Mattie was totally enamored with Brad. She followed him out the front door when he left. As he walked to his truck, she kept saying, "Bye, Brad Paisley," with her biggest smile. As good as I am, I cannot compete with that. With her front teeth missing, she's just too darn cute.
Brantley Gilbert Claims a Piece of Georgia Soil
Brantley Gilbert always wanted a piece of Georgia land he could call his own and, bless his country heart, now he's got it. It's near Maysville, Ga., where his brothers live. He likes family, so he chose a few acres.
Since he scored his first No. 1 single with "Country Must Be Country Wide," I reckon Brantley figured he could go ahead and make that piece of land his own.
Rascal Flatts' Children Transform Their Lives
Rascal Flatts have been transformed by their children.
The most vocal of the threesome is Jay DeMarcus, who became a full-time dad about a year ago when daughter Madeline was born. "She's caused me to grow up," admits Jay. "I'm so proud she's mine. I'm grateful for her every day She gives me new purpose and gives everything I do new purpose."
Joe Don Rooney says he watches his daughter Raquel (aka Rocky) as she watches her big brother, 3-year-old Jagger. Joe Don is amused and amazed as he watches his daughter as she chooses girlie toys and chooses foods she likes.
Gary LeVox is the lucky dad with two daughters -- Brooklyn and Britney, ages 13 and 7. A teenager is a whole new person. She already knows what clothes she likes, and the 7-year-old has dear old dad wrapped around her pinkie.
Happy holidays to Rascal Flatts, their wives and children.
Tribble, Tristan and Sweet Home Alabama
Before Tribble Reese journeyed down to Alabama with 22 women vying for his attention on CMT's Sweet Home Alabama, he dropped by my kitchen for some good food and good fun. I had a lot of fun talking to the Georgia boy about all those ladies. Half of them were from the city -- places like New York and Los Angeles.
When I watched Sweet Home Alabama, it was obvious to me that Tribble knew he was out of the Southern league with some of those girls. So he started dwindling them down with a cooler kiss, along with that all-male habit of looking past someone and maybe someone else to search out the girl he liked most. From day one, I felt he was into Tristan Smith, a beauty from the great state of Alabama, with her blond hair, pearly-white teeth that never stopped smiling and a knock-'em-dead figure. Tribble chose Tristan, and they walked toward the sunset hand in hand.
What happens now? I don't know that, but I do know they are a cute couple.
Named Billboard's woman of the year and honored on the CMT Artists of the Year special, Taylor Swift also received the Nashville Symphony's Harmony Award for her contributions to the community.
The Eli Young Band follow their No. 1 single, "Crazy Girl," with a new song, "Even if It Breaks Your Heart."
The Academy of Country Music presented Reba McEntire with a career achievement award earlier this year for all she's accomplished in music, movies, TV and Broadway. Guess what Reba said about all this? "I'm having the best time of my life," she declared.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: French Silk Pie.