In a time when gender wars wage in Nashville, the most famous all-female country band in history is going back on tour…in Europe.
For the first time since Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines uttered the 12 words at a London concert in 2003 that torpedoed their career (“We’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”), the trio announced Tuesday they will launch an official — albeit brief — U.K. arena tour including London, Amsterdam and Dublin in Spring 2016. The band made a stop at the O2 Arena in London last spring for the “C2C: Country to Country Festival,” but other than that, the city has mostly been Dixie Chicks-free since The Incident.
And what about the U.S., where the country music market largely turned on them after the controversy? While the trio opened for the Eagles stateside throughout 2010, they have otherwise stayed clear of American cities in the last decade, especially on a headlining tour of their own. Last year, their dates on the “Long Time Gone” tour only took them through Canada and Europe.
One possible reason for that was demonstrated in the fascinating documentary “Shut Up and Sing,” which chronicled the Dixie Chicks as they made an album (“Taking the Long Way”) after the fallout. The record racked up the Grammy awards but went nowhere on U.S. country radio. One scene showed the band awaiting news of ticket sales for their “Accidents & Accusations” tour in 2006 built around the album — and seeing some dates had to be scrapped after slow ticket sales, from Memphis to Houston to Kansas City. Not to mention the famous scene of a bulldozer crushing Dixie Chicks CDs during a radio station event in Louisiana.
The band went on hiatus after that; Martie Maguire and Emily Robison started a side project, the Court Yard Hounds, while Maines released a solo rock album in 2013. In the last five years, they’ve all slowly started collaborating together again.
So though there’s no word on any American dates, now would be a particularly fitting time for the trio to return to Nashville for an official comeback, as the country music industry has a well-known problem with makings stars out of female singers. The industry was recently gripped by #Saladgate, in which a radio consultant made waves by telling country stations that they can increase ratings by playing fewer songs by women. His analogy, comparing country music to a salad: “The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Naturally, tons of female singers have been speaking out in disgust. And you know who would probably have a lot to say on the matter? None other than the Dixie Chicks, a group whose members have no problem speaking their minds.