I don’t think I’ve ever had anything on Country’s Chatter about the Dixie Chicks. Oh, perhaps a very brief mention of their little feud with Toby Keith, who I absolutely love. But other than, I never really talked about them.
I got an e-mail from Andrew Griffin, editor for Red Dirt Reporter. It was about Emily and Martie’s new album, that will be debuting on May 4. And about their summer tour. Which is going to include former Chick, Natalie Maines on at lease some of the summer dates. Thanks so much, Andrew, for the great article.
Here’s what Andrew had to say about the Chicks, their album, and their upcoming tour.
OKLAHOMA CITY – With the country and pop music worlds eagerly anticipating the May 4 release of the debut side project by Emily Robison and Martie Maguire called the Court Yard Hounds, it was a bit of a surprise to learn this week that fellow Dixie Chick Natalie Maines would be joining her bandmates for a number of summer tour dates.
Maines, the lead singer of the ostracized Dixie Chicks, has kept a low profile since the trio embarked on a tour in 2006 following the release of their album Taking the Long Way, but suddenly agreed to join Robison and Maguire on tour with The Eagles and Keith Urban.
This is a good sign. One suspects that Maines is finally feeling the itch to get out and belt out songs like “Wide Open Spaces” and “Not Ready To Make Nice” before a screaming audience of thousands. Of course Maines is dealing with family problems involving her Heroes star husband Adrian Pasdar and his recent alcoholic brush with the law.
While working out yesterday, I listened to 1999’s Fly album. Every single song is incredibly good. Say what you will about their political stances (just check out the obnoxious documentary Shut Up and Sing for further information), their music is amazingly good. Maines is a dynamite vocalist and Robison and Maguire are wonderful musicians, playing banjo and fiddle, respectively. Just listen to “Sin Wagon” or “Hello Mr. Heartache” for further confirmation of this fact.
As I wrote in April 2005, in an article for The (Alexandria, La.) Town Talk newspaper headlined “Dixie Chicks controversy recalled two years later,” there were still plenty of bad feelings about the Chicks following Maines’ infamous comments on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom (launched seven years ago to the day) about President George W. Bush being from Texas and how they were ashamed the 43rd president also hailed from the Lone Star State.
In my article, I interviewed William Kerns, the entertainment editor at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Maines’ hometown paper in west Texas. Kerns said he would have expected the controversy about the Dixie Chicks to have run its course but “vocal” people in Lubbock and elsewhere have made sure the group remained marginalized. Country radio largely ignored the group and the hits disappeared.
Kerns, in my Town Talk interview with him, added that he believed the city of Lubbock would want to add Natalie Maines’ name to the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame someday.
“They are going to want her to return and accept the honor,” Kerns said at the time. “But I would have thought the initial anger would have run its course by now.”
And with the release of Taking The Long Way in 2006, tour dates were scheduled for southern cities like Oklahoma City, but were ultimately canceled and moved to cities in Canada where the controversy wasn’t an issue. Clearly in certain parts of the U.S., particularly in Texas and in the South, many were not ready to pay good money to see a group they felt had insulted the president and, in essence, Bush’s supporters and his decision to go to war in Iraq.
More time passed. Little to nothing is mentioned about the Dixie Chicks. And then we hear that Robison (recently divorced from husband and Texas singer-songwriter Charlie Robison) and Maguire are releasing the Sheryl Crow-esque, Americana-sounding Court Yard Hounds and will tour with the newly launched Lilith Fair tour, featuring everyone from Emmylou Harris to Sarah McLachlan to Sugarland.
Just last night, the duo debuted at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas before a packed audience at Antone’s. Entertainment Weekly’s music writer Whitney Pastorek called Thursday night’s performance “effortless.” Sounds like they put on quite a show. And that was without Natalie Maines, mind you.
And now we wait for the Dixie Chicks to reunite for June tour dates, including an appearance at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri on June 24.
For more information go to www.dixiechicks.com or www.courtyardhounds.com.
I’ll talk to you all soon. It’s another beautiful spring day. I hope you all enjoy it!