HOT DISH: Vince Gill Four-CD Release Is a Thing of Beauty

Tim McGraw Gets Yet Another Honor

(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 shares her recipes at

Plumb Perfect Vince

Was it three years ago when Next Big Thing by Vince Gill was released? That was a killer record that should have been album of the year. One of the finest CDs ever and hardly anybody gave it the attention it deserved. I kept talking about the album and kept writing about it. With all the schlock that hits the airways, I still don't understand why that record did not happen big time. Just maybe the time for plumb perfect Vince is now!

These Days is a first in country music. Vince went into the recording studio with his favorite musicians and his stash of songs and kept on recording because he had written so many songs he wanted to record. "Are you available next week?" he'd ask the pickers who obviously said, "Yes." He began with the idea of cutting a first-class record of country songs with a couple bluegrass flavored numbers and a gospel tune. Five weeks later, he'd recorded 31 songs. Scratching his head, Vince tried to decide which two-thirds to cull.

At the Blackbird Studio where he was recording, a poster on the wall reminded Vince that the Beatles had released multiple albums in a year. He was thinking he might release an album every three months. With the different styles of country songs he'd recorded, Vince took the idea and the tape to label head Luke Lewis who supported his thinking. When the question came up of which batch of songs to release first, the rocking country or the honky tonk, etc., Lewis got more radical than Vince. He started his career in bluegrass, and Vince has allowed that he wanted to record an album of bluegrass songs, so when Lewis suggested he record more and make it bluegrass, Vince knew that would complete the Gill legacy of music, so he did it. Yep, a first in country music -- a four-CD release with 43 songs.

Vince has added vocals to almost as many different artists as Willie Nelson, and he knew he could harmonize with himself. But past experience kept haunting him, making him ask, "How would Emmylou sound here or Sheryl Crow or Bekka Bramlett or Amy (Grant, his wife)?" So he tried and used 'em all as well as others, including daughter Jenny, where he knew they'd fit.

When Don Imus, on Imus in the Morning, first played "Take This Country Back," Vince's duet with John Anderson, I had chills. The song is so dadgum great. It's written so good, Imus played it for Dwight Yoakam when he appeared on the show. Needless to say, Yoakam loved the song. If you think the song is about taking America back, you need to listen to Vince's musical extravaganza, and thank me. Let me add here, Vince's record is being promoted almost daily by Imus, who I consider to be country music's connection in New York City. Imus told Dierks Bentley, "There's no country radio station in New York City, but there's scores of country fans."

Plumb perfect Vince has scored a homer with these four discs. Great songs, great package and in time for Dear Santa.

Borchettas: Red-Hot Indies

Mike Borchetta served time on Music Row with the majors as did his son, Scott. Mike, now head honcho at Lofton Creek Records, struck oil with Heartland with a No. 1 single out of the chute with "I Loved Her First." Meanwhile, son Scott is stretching for a second No. 1 by hot Jack Ingram on his Big Machine Label and has bragging rights on Taylor Swift and Danielle Peck. Stay tuned.

News and More News

The seller of 33 million records and winner of three Grammys, Tim McGraw got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame recently. Actor Billy Bob Thornton, Tim's co-star in his debut movie Friday Night Lights was one of the speakers, and Michael Mayer, director of his current movie Flicka attended.

Tim's wife, the lovely Faith Hill, also attended Tim's Walk of Fame induction before she performed "Stealing Kisses" on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. That's a song with superfine lyrics penned by Lori McKenna.

Funny guy Andy Andrews is set to emcee the 12th annual Inspirational Country Music Award Show at the Acuff Theater on Nov. 9. Skedded to perform are Randy Owen, Jimmy Wayne, Blue Country, Fox Brothers and others.

Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap and the Fisk Jubilee Singers will be the first inductees in Nashville's new Music City Walk of Fame. Recognized posthumously will be Roy Orbison, songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant and former Nashville Symphony maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn.

When Alabama appeared on the QVC Shopping Network with their gospel recording, Songs of Inspiration, the presale offer brought in over 41,000 orders in an hour!

Don't try to tell me the fans of country music don't love gospel songs and singing. These are my people and I know their hearts. They love it.

Dierks Bentley is all over New York promoting his new album and looking cuter than anybody else while taking a bite of the Big Apple. Then Dierks blew it away on the Today Show and Imus in the Morning.

Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson will introduce this year's Hall of Fame inductees George Strait, Sonny James and Harold Bradley during the CMA Awards festivities on ABC-TV come Nov. 6.

Incidents following Sara Evans' divorce filing has Music Row and the fans of country music saddened and depressed. I for one will be happy when headlines reveal it's over and kaput. Too much info.

"Songwriters put the music in Music City," said Bill Purcell. Purcell is Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, and he proclaimed the week of Oct. 22-28 as Celebrating Songwriters week. How cool is a mayor who recognizes the importance of the song and the writer? So cool he needs dark glasses even when the sun don't shine.

Little Texas signs on the dotted line with Montage Music.

Eighty-eight-year-old country music legend Hank Locklin will be the sole inductee into the 2007 Florida Artists Hall of Fame during festivities at Tallahassee in March. Over 1,000 artists have recorded Hank's self-penned songs that include "Please Help Me I'm Falling" and my fave, "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On." Hank joins the illustrous list of Jimmy Buffett, Ray Charles, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Burt Reynolds and 32 others famed and near famed already inducted.

Speaking of Buffett, he's the happiest guy in the whole USA. After trying to be country for eons, his killer CD, Take the Weather With You, debuted No. 1, and he's smiling from Key West to Seattle like he did when License to Chill chart-topped.

Dixie Chicks score again, this time in Brisbane, Australia, where 17,068 paid a whopping $1,417,015 to see those talented women perform Oct. 6 and 7. They are making the big bucks outside the U.S. Sad, isn't it?

My niece Lisa and her friend Crystal travel a half-dozen states and the District of Columbia to see Kenny Chesney, so when they started sending e-mails about a Carolina boy named Jason Michael Carroll singing good, I ignored it. I thought those two wore Chesney blinders and had no idea what they were talking about. I was wrong. I met Carroll on the RCA boat earlier this year, and now his single, "Alyssa Lies," debuted as the No. 1 most-added country single -- 75 stations playing his song! Wonders never cease.

See this week's Hot Dish Recipe of the Week: Peach Cobbler.

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