After poor ticket sales in at least 12 cities, the politically provocative Dixie Chicks have put their U.S. tour on hold and added more dates in Canada.
Although concert promoters say the shows have not been canceled yet, the slow sales likely will lead to stops being dropped or rescheduled in cities such as Houston, Memphis and St. Louis, the Tennessean newspaper reported.
Some arenas have sold only about 5,000 tickets in contrast to 2003, when the venues mostly were sold out within a few hours. The pop-country group has sold a little more than half of the 14,000 tickets available for a planned Oct. 3 concert in Nashville. When the Chicks played in the city in 2003, tickets were sold out in the first week, the paper said.
In response, the group has added more dates in Canada, including two in Toronto. Tickets in northern U.S. cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia are selling better than in southern and Midwest markets.
Many country music fans turned on the Texas trio in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines made disparaging comments about President Bush in front of a London audience.
“Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the Unites States is from Texas,” Maines said.
Radio stations immediately pulled their songs from rotation and the group’s No. 1 single, “Travelin’ Soldier,” plummeted to No. 63 within days.
As WND reported in 2003, two disc jockeys in Colorado Springs, Colo., were suspended for playing the group’s songs. Station Manager Jerry Grant told WND the decision in the “military town” was based on “a huge outcry from our listeners: Do not play the Dixie Chicks.”
WorldNetDaily also reported a radio station in North Carolina offered ticket holders of a Dixie Chicks concert in Greensboro the opportunity to use their tickets at an alternative “patriotic event” the station sponsored the same night – just in case Chicks fans want to send a message to the group in response to its comments about Bush.
After the controversy, Maines apologized for the comments but then retracted her apology last month.
“I don’t feel that way anymore, “she told Time magazine. “I don’t feel like [the president] is owed any respect whatsoever.”
The group is not doing well on the country charts as most country stations have refused to add its new single, “Not Ready to Make Nice.” The angry lyrics take jabs at fans and program directors that boycotted the group after the London comments.
The Chicks’ album “Taking the Long Way Home,” however, is No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart. Many industry experts credit those sales to the influx of media coverage surrounding the album release, including appearances on CBS’ “60 Minutes” and a cover story in Time magazine.
Despite the controversy, Maines remains defiant. On the Dixie Chicks Official Artist Club website, she writes a letter to fans explaining how she called Ozzy Ozbourne for public relations advice.
“He said ‘f*** it.’ I like that advice. I think I’ll do just that. So from here on out when you call for a statement, explanation, apology, etc., we are just going to have to refer you to this letter.”