Dixie Chicks Gear Up For Massive Road Trip

Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin, Ricky Skaggs are opening acts on country group's first headlining tour.

NASHVILLE — Country superstars the Dixie Chicks will embark on their first headlining tour in June, and they're enlisting legendary fellow Texan Willie Nelson, songstress Patty Griffin and bluegrass virtuoso Ricky Skaggs as opening acts.

"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 Natalie Maines, whose group's controversial song "Goodbye Earl" (RealAudio excerpt) continues to make headlines. Their support acts, she added, are artists the Dixie Chicks like.

The Dixie Chicks Fly tour will hit 70 cities through the summer and fall, starting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on June 1 and moving into the U.S. in Spokane, Wash., on June 9, then winding through 38 states and ending up in New Orleans on Oct. 29.

One of the support acts will open each concert, with a complete support-act calendar to be announced later.

"Entertainment perks" are promised for concert-goers who arrive early. "We want everyone to see the support acts. We want to entertain them from the minute they walk in the door; there will be things happening," Maines said. "We'll have some kind of Dixie Chicks TV running while people are coming in."

"We really wanted to make this tour something special," Emily Robison added. "The whole night will be an event."

The Dixie Chicks hired set-designer Luc Lafortune, who was a designer for famed touring troupe Cirque de Soleil.

"The visuals really help set a mood for each song," said Martie Seidel. "We want it to be eye-catching, but not your standard rock 'n' roll light show."

To thwart ticket scalping there will be a four-ticket-per-person limit on the first 10 rows of floor seating, and an eight-ticket limit per person for all other seating. Ticket prices will be set under $40 (plus service charges) through Ticketmaster or local outlets.

The World Wildlife Fund will benefit from the tour. Each ticket sale will contribute $1 to the organization. Said Seidel, "If we can help World Wildlife Fund protect endangered species and the world's wide-open spaces, then we may be able to leave our children a living planet."

Country Music Television will be the tour's media sponsor and will air tour programming. One of CMT's 53-foot promotional vehicles, with crew, will hit the concert trail throughout the tour. CMT will hold a national sweepstakes in which winners get to meet the Dixie Chicks at one of the concerts.

During the past two years, the Dixie Chicks played more than 250 dates on three tours in North America, the UK and Australia. The pressure has been there, they say, to headline a tour all along, but they preferred to proceed at their own pace.

"We wanted to continue to build our fanbase by performing in front of diverse audiences. On the Tim McGraw, George Strait and Lillith Fair tours that we did," Maine said, "we really had to prove ourselves in front of different audiences."

Dixie Chicks tour dates:

June 1; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Winnipeg Arena

June 2; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Saskatchewan Place

June 3; Edmonton, Alberta; SkyReach Centre

June 4: Calgary, Alberta; Canadian Air Saddledome

June 8; Vancouver, British Columbia; General Motors Place

June 9; Spokane, Wash; Spokane Arena

June 12; Tacoma, Wash.; Tacoma Dome

June 11; Portland, Ore.; Rose Garden

June 15; Sacramento, Calif.; Arco Arena

June 16; San Jose, Calif.; San Jose Arena

June 17; Anaheim, Calif.; Arrowhead Pond

June 18; Phoenix, Ariz.; America West Arena

June 22; San Diego, Calif.; Cox Arena

June 23; Las Vegas, Nev.; Thomas & Mack Center

June 24; Salt Lake City, Utah; Delta Center

June 25; Nampa, Idaho; Idaho Center

June 29; Little Rock, Ark.; Alltel Arena

June 30; Lafayette, La.; Cajundome

July 1; Biloxi, Miss.; Mississippi Coast Coliseum

July 13; Chicago, Ill.; United Center

July 14; Milwaukee, Wis.; Bradley Center

July 15; Minneapolis, Minn.; Target Center

July 16; Fargo, N.D.; Fargodome

July 20; New York, N.Y.; Radio City Music Hall

July 21; Albany, N.Y.; Pepsi Arena

July 22; Worcester, Mass.; Centrum

July 23; Buffalo, N.Y.; Marine Midland Arena

Aug. 3; Denver, Colo.; Pepsi Center

Aug. 4 Kansas City, Mo.; Kemper Arena

Aug. 5; Oklahoma City, Okla.; The Myriad

Aug. 6; Lubbock, Texas; United Spirit Arena

Aug. 11; Dallas, Texas; Reunion Arena

Aug. 12; Austin, Texas; Frank Irwin Center

Aug. 13; Houston, Texas; Compaq Center

Aug. 17; Louisville, Ky.; Freedom Hall

Aug. 18; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Palace at Auburn Hills

Aug. 19; Toronto, Ontario; Air Canada Centre

Aug. 20; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Van Andel Arena

Aug. 24; Philadelphia, Pa.; First Union Center

Aug. 25; Washington, D.C.; MCI Center

Aug. 26; Winston Salem, N.C.; Lawrence Joel Coliseum

Aug. 27; Atlanta, Ga.; Philips Arena

Sep. 7; Hampton, Va.; Hampton Coliseum

Sep. 8; Charlotte, N.C.; Charlotte Coliseum

Sept. 9; Greenville, S.C.; Bi-Lo Center

Sept. 10; Birmingham, Ala.; Jefferson County Civic Center

Sept. 14; Richmond, Va.; Richmond Civic Center

Sept. 15; Raleigh, N.C.; Sports & Entertainment. Arena

Sept. 16; Roanoke, Va.; Roanoke Civic Center

Sept. 17; Nashville, Tenn.; Gaylord Entertainment Center

Sept. 28; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; National Car Rental Center

Sept. 29; Tampa, Fla.; Ice Palace

Sept. 30; Orlando, Fla.; Orlando Arena

Oct. 1; Jacksonville, Fla.; Veterans Memorial

Oct. 6; Moline, Ill.; Mark of the Quad

Oct. 7; Ames, Iowa; Hilton Coliseum

Oct. 8; Lincoln, Neb.; Bob Devaney Center

Oct. 10; Wichita, Kans.; Kansas Coliseum

Oct. 12; Columbus, Ohio; Value City Arena (Schottenstein)

Oct. 13; State College, Pa.; Bryce Jordan Center

Oct. 14; Cleveland, Ohio; Gund Arena

Oct. 15; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mellon Arena

Oct. 19; Cincinnati, Ohio; Firstar Center

Oct. 20; Knoxville, Tenn.; Thompson Boling Arena

Oct. 21; Charleston, W.V.; Civic Coliseum

Oct. 22; Indianapolis, Ind.; Conseco Field House

Oct. 26; Evansville, Ind.; Roberts Stadium

Oct.27; St. Louis, Mo.; Kiel Center

Oct. 28; Memphis, Tenn.; The Pyramid

Oct. 29; New Orleans, La.; New Orleans Arena