Dates Confirmed for “The Dixie Chicks Fly Tour”

The High-Flying Trio to Play 70 North American Cities

After selling 13 million albums, winning multiple awards and playing 250 dates as a support act in ’98 and ’99, the Dixie Chicks will embark on their first headlining tour.

Billed “The Dixie Chicks Fly Tour,” the 70-date North American arena trek kicks off in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on June 1. Tickets for the first show go on sale May 6. After four additional Canadian dates, the tour moves into the U.S. beginning with Spokane, Wash., on June 9. Tickets for that show go on sale April 22.

The Chicks — Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Seidel and Emily Robison — unhatched tour plans on Friday.

CMT, the tour’s media sponsor, will telecast special programming related to the tour and have one of CMT’s 53-foot promotional trucks and crew accompany the tour from coast to coast. CMT viewers will be able to enter a national sweepstakes for a chance to meet the Chicks at one of the concerts.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson, bluegrass crusader Ricky Skaggs and rocker Patty Griffin will rotate as opening acts along the trek. “We want to expose our fans to different kinds of music and we wanted our tour to represent us and what we like,” said lead singer Maines. “The live element is so important to us and our support acts are all ones we would want to be entertained by each night.”

In the past two years, the Dixie Chicks participated in three major tours — the George Strait stadium festival tour, Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair tour and Tim McGraw’s 1999 headlining tour. Now, the Texas threesome will implement their own vision for the show.

“From the moment you walk in in the door, there will be things happening,” promises Maines. They advise concert-goers to be in their seats 30 minutes before starting time in order to win instant seat upgrades and enjoy other surprises. “Pee before you get there, because you won’t want to leave your seats between acts,” says the lead vocalist. Robison adds, “We really wanted to make this tour something special. The whole night will be an event.”

Luc Lafortune, one of the designers of the Cirque de Soleil, will provide set designs. “The visuals really help set a mood for each song,” says Seidel. “We want it to be eye-catching, but not your stanadard rock ’n’ roll light show.”

To thwart ticket scalpers, there will be a four-ticket limit on the first 10 rows on the floor, and an eight-ticket limit for all other seating. Tickets are all under $40 (plus applicable service charges) and will be available through Ticketmaster or local outlets. A buck from the sale of each ticket will go to the World Wildlife Fund.

The Dixie Chicks will fly from concert dates on the West Coast to attend this year’s International Country Music Fan Fair, set for June 12-16 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in Nashville. The Chicks will sign autographs and greet fans at their fan club booth, but the group’s name does not appear on the roster of performers for the Sony Music show at 7 p.m. June 12. The Chicks record for Monument Records, a Sony subsidiary. “The Dixie Chicks Fly Tour” stops in Music City on September 17.

The trio’s 1998 album, Wide Open Spaces, has sold more than 9 millions units. The latest, Fly, holds the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s country album chart with sales of more than 4 million.