Chicks ‘Geared Up’ for New World Tour

NEW YORK — After a nearly three-year self-imposed vacation, the Dixie Chicks are excited about hitting the road on their new world tour. It’s their first outing since the band’s 2000’s Fly tour, which was one of the top country shows of the year.

“I think we feel like we geared up [for the tour] a year ago,” front Chick Natalie Maines told CMT News. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been onstage, and we always want to beat ourselves, so it’s definitely a fun challenge to plan the tour. We hope as many people come out this time as they did last time.”

The band talked to CMT News immediately following a press conference Thursday (Feb. 20) in New York City’s Central Park to announce the Top of the World tour which kicks off its North American leg May 1 in Greenville, S.C. The trio is in town to attend Sunday’s Grammy Awards, so they took the chance to publicize their upcoming road shows. The Dixie Chicks’ latest album, Home, is even more organic and rootsy than their first two releases, a detail that went into the planning of the new stage show.

“It was really tricky to find the right band because we didn’t want to hire an acoustic and electric bass player and then somebody to play steel [guitar],” Martie Maguire explained. “We needed to find talented musicians that could pretty much cover a couple of bases so that we could move smoothly into the electric stuff and the acoustic stuff. It’s going to be interesting. We’re not going to know how the set is going to flow until we get on stage and see what works.”

Maines says the more acoustic sections of the show will feature more visuals as well.

“We are trying to do extra theatrical things on the acoustic songs to help draw people into that sound so it really separates itself from the full-on band stuff,” she said. “‘Cause definitely to your ears, it’s going to sound different. We want to bring people in with their eyes while they hear the acoustic with their ears.”

One thing is certain: the Chicks will be doing their shows in the round, with the audience all around them. They hope it will make the arenas that they are playing more intimate.

“We’re going to be center arena this year, so there is the challenge of covering as much space as we can,” Emily Robison said. “Every seat is going to be a good seat cause we’re right in the center. It’s just the aspects of it like that that I think are going to be challenging, but fun, for us.”

New mom Robison, who delivered son Gus in November, also admitted that having her baby on the road would be another challenge. Frontwoman Maines also has a son, 2-year-old Jackson Slade, who will also be on the road with his mom.

“We used to joke that we didn’t have a posse,” Robinson said. “But I don’t think that’s true anymore with all the nannies and kids along.”

Also along for the ride on this tour will be opening acts Joan Osborne and Michelle Branch, both successful pop-rock acts. The Top of the World tour will hit 48 cities, with 2-night stands scheduled in Chicago and St. Paul, Minn. The Chicks will also tour Europe, visiting England, Germany, Scotland, Holland and France before jetting to Australia. Tickets for almost all the U.S. dates go on sale March 1. For a complete list of tour dates, click here.