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Chicks Announce Top of the World Tour
After three years off the road, the Dixie Chicks have announced plans for their Top of the World tour of the U.S., Europe and Australia. The group made the announcement during a Thursday afternoon (Feb. 20) press conference at Central Park in New York City.

The North American tour kicks off May 1 in Greenville, S.C., and will hit almost 60 cities before wrapping up in Nashville on Aug. 4. Tickets for virtually all of the North American shows go on sale March 1.

Even before the U.S. tour dates begin, the Chicks travel to Europe for a March 10 concert in London and a March 19 show in Munich. They return to Europe in September for shows in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Holland and France. Plans for the Australian tour are still being finalized.

Joan Osborne will open shows during the first half of the U.S. tour, with Michelle Branch joining the Chicks for the second half. Despite the spring and summer tour dates, the Chicks will not be performing at outdoor amphitheaters. All shows will be indoors with an "in-the-round" stage configuration.

At the press conference, the Chicks -- Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison -- talked about their plans for the tour that follows the release of Home, an album that has sold more than 5 million copies in six months.

Describing the tour's music selection, Robison said, "I think it will be a cominbation of all three albums worth of music but maybe a little more emphasis on the Home album. We're excited to be in the center [of the] arena this year, so every seat's a good seat."

Mounting an arena tour for an acoustic-based show is creating some challenges. Maines explained, "We want it to be really Home-heavy. We can't figure out if it's gonna work to put songs scattered between the old stuff or if we're gonna have to have acoustic segments of the show. I think it's going to be something we decide on in our rehearsals. Once they are side by side, there's sort of a drop in volume, so we're gonna have to see how it feels."

"It does make for a little bit larger band, too," Robison added. "I think we have a couple of extra players than we did on the Fly tour because of having to change gears and go from full band to acoustic."

Maguire noted, "Acoustic music sounds so much better over a live microphone. That would be the ultimate thing -- to play into live microphones. And then when we go to the other stuff, electrify. So it's going to be interesting to see how we make that all work and make it sound the best in an arena."

On their Fly tour, the Chicks' opening acts included Patty Griffin and Ricky Skaggs. For the upcoming shows, Maguire points to Osborne and Branch as artists who should appeal to the Chicks' demographic. "We always think we'd like to expose the audience to something new," she said. "That was the whole premise behind Lilith Fair being such an eclectic mix of different artists. It's kind of nice to have something different. Every country act just gets the newest comers of country music opening for them. I think the audience is a little more entertained when they hear something that they're not used to hearing. Yet I think both Joan and Michelle have aspects to their music that are universal with the kind of fan base we'll be drawing."

In taking their tour to Europe and Australia, the Chicks acknowledge that they welcome the opportunity to widen their international audience. Maguire said, "We do hope that our music can be accepted worldwide. Especially when an album like this -- that's so acoustic -- does well in these other countries, it makes us kind of feel like we're waving the acoustic music flag, the country music flag."

As for introducing themselves to new listeners overseas, Robison joked, "For years we played in front of audiences who didn't know who we are, so we're quite used to that." She added, "It's back to proving ourselves again. It's back to really having the live show be our ticket to get new fans."

Get a complete list of dates here.
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