(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 were huge celebrations in Nashville in the days and nights leading up to Thursday's (Nov. 1) CMA Awards show, but between all the trophies and plaques that were being handed out, those of us in Music Town were well aware of what difficult times these are for our friends on the East Coast who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
During the CMA Awards show, co-hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood asked fans to donate to the American Red Cross to help the region in the days after Sandy killed dozens of people and caused billions of dollars in damage. Brad even sang a tribute to the good people of the Northeast as an intro to his latest single, "Southern Comfort Zone."
Knowing there are still people who are hungry and cold makes it hard. Our business is show business. Some of us are entertainers. Some sing. Some write. Some play instruments. Whatever we do, it is to entertain others.
With the storm raging, it was difficult for me to focus. Hard to concentrate. No matter how hard one prays, it gets scary, especially when you see on television a hospital evacuating old people, sick babies, newborns and mothers who've just given birth. From the beautiful Carolina coasts past Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland and up to Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut and even farther north and west, it has been a very scary time.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a caring man with a big heart. He wants all his people to be warm, housed and fed. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be on top of all the problems in his city. May the Good Lord allow blessings to flow and may all needs be met.
Little Big Town Will Follow CMA Win With New Tour
Following up their wins at the CMA Awards for vocal group and single of the year (for "Pontoon"), Little Big Town are set to launch their Tornado tour early next year with special guests David Nail and Kasey Musgraves also appearing at select dates. The tour begins Jan. 31 in Murray, Ky., and runs through May 9 in North Charleston, S.C.
Kenny Chesney Enlists With Salvation Army
Kenny Chesney will perform at halftime during the game between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day at Cowboys Stadium. It kicks off the Salvation Army's 122nd Red Kettle campaign. This is the 16th year of the Thanksgiving partnership between the Dallas Cowboys and the Salvation Army. To date, the campaign has raised more than $1.5 billion.
At last week's CMA Awards, Kenny and Tim McGraw shared the musical event honor for their collaboration on "Feel Like a Rock Star."
Thompson Square's Hard Work Pays Off
I've loved this little duo ever since they came by my kitchen, so I was delighted when Thompson Square were named vocal duo of the year at the CMA Awards. Shawna and Keifer Thompson have worked hard, including a tenure as bartenders at the Wheel on Nashville's Lower Broadway. Their latest single, "If I Didn't Have You," was recently named song of the week by USA Today.
Keep on keeping on, Shawna and Keifer.
Taylor Swift Co-Hosting Grammy Nominations Concert
Taylor Swift will co-host The Grammy Nominations Concert Live -- Countdown to Music's Biggest Night with LL Cool J on Dec. 5 at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Previously announced Maroon 5 will perform, as will the just-added Luke Bryan.
In addition to the musical performances, nominations will be announced in several Grammy categories. Following the CBS telecast, attendees will enjoy a one-hour exclusive concert by one of the evening's performers who will be announced at a later time.
The 55th annual Grammy Awards show will air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 10.
Jason Aldean Sells Out Second Show at Fenway Park
Jason Aldean is the first country act to headline Boston's iconic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The first show, set for July 13, sold out in just seven minutes, so a second show was added for July 12. And when tickets for the second show went on sale Friday (Nov. 2), it sold out in less than an hour. Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett will be there with Jason for both shows.
By the way, Jason's recent Concert for the Cure in Dallas attracted more than 20,000 fans and raised $509,125 to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure in its research to cure breast cancer.
Brad Paisley's Birthday Surprise
My sweet friend, the wonderful Brad Paisley, celebrated his birthday recently, and the Grand Ole Opry remembered. They produced a video of a shapely blonde who looked like Marilyn Monroe whispering the lyrics to "Happy Birthday" just like the real Marilyn Monroe did at John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration during the '60s.
However, when the song ended and the singer turned around, it was the face of Little Jimmy Dickens looking out past that blond wig. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift will appear on the American Music Awards on Nov. 18 from Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. The show will air on ABC-TV.
Tim McGraw performed his new single, "One of Those Nights," on the CMA Awards. The song will be included on his upcoming album, Two Lanes of Freedom.
Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys and a slate of others are set to join singer-songwriter Carole King for a celebration of her music in Los Angeles on Dec. 4. The event will benefit the nonprofit Painted Turtle Camp. Part of the Serious Fun Children's Network, the camp was founded by the late Paul Newman to provide support to children with serious illnesses.
Toby Keith will build another I Love This Bar & Grill in Pittsburgh in a location that's a hop, skip and a jump from Heinz Field, where the Steelers play. His chain now includes three restaurants in Oklahoma and 11 more stretching from Foxborough, Mass., to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: Chocolate Cherry Bars.