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