(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.)
One look into the blue eyes of George Strait was enough to take my breath away. I never saw anyone with bluer eyes, perfect white teeth, a dazzling smile and a face that a cowboy hat fit perfectly. After more than three decades, there's nobody sexier or better looking than the Cowboy.
Then along comes Dustin Lynch with the bluest eyes I've ever seen, except for Strait's. His perfectly white teeth, dazzling smile, country swagger and stone-country vocals do remind me of the Strait man.
Born in Tullahoma, Tenn., Dustin began his trek to Nashville when he was 16. Right off the bat, he began hanging out at the songwriters' paradise, the Bluebird Café. Pretty soon, Dustin was writing songs -- some solo and some as a co-writer.
Signed to Broken Bow Records, he co-wrote his first single, "Cowboys and Angels," with Tim Nichols and Josh Leo. The track has already climbed to No. 15 on Billboard's country songs chart. He wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 13 songs on his self-titled debut album which will be released Aug. 21.
Dustin made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry on March 2 and has quickly become a regular guest. He now has more than 200 songs to his credit and is busy touring all across the U.S. He was greatly influenced by the class of '89 that included Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Clint Black.
It's worth noting that when he moved to Nashville, he found a convenient place to live right behind the Bluebird so he could walk right over to the club, so it came as no surprise to me that he's a graduate of David Lipscomb University. After all, the college is located just a few blocks from the Bluebird. You'd expect that from Dustin.
Ringo at the Ryman Includes Some Help From His Friends
Former Beatle Ringo Starr celebrated his 72nd birthday with a July 7 concert at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. The sold-out show attracted a bevy of fans, including Brad Paisley, Kix Brooks, Vince Gill, Richard Marx and Joe Walsh. Ringo closed his show with a little help from the aforementioned friends.
You may recall that Ringo sang the lead vocal on the Beatles' 1965 recording of "Act Naturally," a hit for Buck Owens that was co-written by the late Johnny Russell. And Ringo also recorded his 1970 album, Beaucoups of Blues, in Nashville with a studio band that included Charlie Daniels, Jerry Reed and Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy.
Brad Paisley Sings in a Famous Backyard
"Haven't sung in someone's backyard in quite a while," Brad Paisley tweeted on July 4.
He was on the South Lawn of the White House performing for service members and their families as well as President and Mrs. Obama. He sent a second tweet that read, "Um, yes, police? The big house up the street is having a real loud party."
Later Brad said, "I can't think of a better way to celebrate America's Independence Day than at the home of our president, honoring the men and women who protect and serve our rights and freedoms and their families. ... Being here today is truly and honor and makes me proud to be an American."
I am truly so proud of Brad and all the good he does for our country.
Pistol Annies Cruise Music City in New Video
The Pistol Annies' new video, "Takin' Pills," was shot right here in Nashville with the trio joyriding all around town in an old van. The video finds the trio celebrating everything the self-help books warn against, including cigarettes, pills, booze, burgers, fries and the like.
The Annies' main Pistol, Miranda Lambert, has been on vocal rest for two weeks and was forced to reschedule a series of concerts.
"I'm so sorry to disappoint the fans that have already bought tickets to see me," Lambert said in a written statement. "I'm taking care of myself and can't wait to get on the road again and bring you a heck of a show."
Taylor Spends Time With Kennedys and Another Taylor
Taylor Swift spent the Fourth of July on the coast of Massachusetts with members of the Kennedy family, including Patrick Schwarzenegger, son of Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They were spotted together laughing and walking on the beach.
Is Patrick the new guy in Taylor's life? She's been linked with other famous dudes before, including John Mayer, Joe Jonas and Jake Gyllenhaal. I think Chord Overstreet is a famous dude, too.
Taylor also made a guest appearance with the famous dude she was named for -- James Taylor -- at his recent concert in Lenox, Mass. Taylor's parents enjoyed watching their daughter onstage with JT.
Blake and Bublé
NBC has announced that The Voice has teamed a crooner with a country singer for the show's new season. Michael Bublé will serve as an advisor to coach Blake Shelton's team of contestants when the talent competition returns to the air in September.
Bublé describes himself as a big Blake Shelton fan and says he's having a big time working with him. He began taping his appearances in Los Angeles last week.
Keith Urban Sings Nashville's Praises
Keith Urban graces the cover of the new issue of American Airlines' American Way magazine this month to give travelers around the globe his perspective on "one of our country's leading arts and entertainment cities," his hometown of Nashville.
A longtime supporter of countless Nashville based charities, citywide initiatives and some of Nashville's best-loved institutions, Keith came to Nashville from his native Australia 20 years ago. For the past five years, Keith has played an integral role in the activities of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Keith dishes on his favorite downhome eats, his favorite places to go for music and tells what makes the city special for him. He names "meat-and-three" joints for favorite eats, including Brown's Diner, Rotier's Restaurant and Jack's Bar-B-Que. For live music hotspots, he opts for 12th & Porter and the Exit/In.
"This is a real family-oriented place," says Keith. "There's a lot of focus on family, which suits us perfectly."
ACM Helps Country Music Hall of Fame Grow and Glow
While the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum continues to grow and glow in Nashville, the Los Angeles-based Academy of Country Music is pitching in with a generous $2.5 million donation to the museum to open a new gallery showcasing trends in modern country music. This pledge brings to $70 million the total in cash and pledges collected since last summer.
Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl" video hung in at No. 1 on CMT Top 20 Countdown for a record-breaking 14 weeks. In 2010, Carrie's "Undo It" video held the top spot on the show for an impressive 12 weeks.
Tim McGraw's "Truck Yeah," his first single for Big Machine Records, arrived at No. 22 on Billboard's country songs chart to become his highest solo chart debut ever.
Little Big Town used their incredible talents to co-write and record "Good Afternoon," the theme song for ABC's new series, Good Afternoon America. The group will perform the song on the show on Aug. 2.
Phil Vassar was named the 2012 Distinguished Virginian by the Virginia Association of Broadcasters for contributing to the wellbeing of the state, its citizens and its broadcast industry.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Cheeseburger Casserole.