Few other Texas-bred acts inspire visceral reaction — positive or negative — as The Chicks. When the band announced its first substantial tour dates in five years earlier this year, there was simmering outrage around the fact that the trio (Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) hadn’t scheduled any stops in their home state.
In time, it was revealed the band would be performing at the 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival (incredibly, for the first time in its career). With that, a slew of Texas tour stops were announced, including a two-night stand (Oct. 10-11) in the Dallas suburbs, near where the band got its start in the late 1980s. Patty Griffin will open both nights.
Whether you’re a casual Chicks fan or a die-hard, follow-the-group-on-tour stan, here are five tracks from the band’s expansive career to get you ready for a homecoming which, if the band’s 2016 stop in Fair Park is any indication, will be a pair of exceptional, emotionally charged evenings.
“West Texas Wind”
It’s easy enough to forget, especially if you weren’t plugged into the Dallas music scene in the late 1980s, that the band then known as the Dixie Chicks has been a going concern since 1989, when bassist Laura Lynch, guitarist Robin Macy and sisters Martie and Emily Erwin formed the group, inspired by bluegrass and classic country. This track, from the 1990 debut Thanks Heavens for Dale Evans, is a great example of the band’s enduring affinity for country music’s classic contours.
“Wide Open Spaces”
The initial incarnation of what’s now known as the Chicks survived into the mid-1990s — Macy departed first in 1992, followed by Lynch in — when, after signing with Sony, the sisters Erwin recruited Natalie Maines to take over vocal duties. This honeyed slice of harmony strikes a nice balance between the trio’s turbo-charged vocal abilities and a rootsy sensibility which helped catapult them from Deep Ellum street corners to global stardom.
“Long Time Gone”
Rather than repeat the formulas of Wide Open Spaces and Fly, both of which effectively rode the mid-1990s country music boom, the Chicks elected to lean into their roots for 2002’s Home, its Lloyd Maines-produced third album, stripping things back and embracing a fundamental love of bluegrass. This approach yielded yet more accolades, while also illustrating the Chicks’ willingness to bite the hand that feeds: “We listen to the radio to hear what’s cookin’/But the music ain’t got no soul/Now they sound tired, but they don’t sound Haggard/They’ve got money, but they don’t have Cash/They got Junior but they don’t have Hank.”
“Not Ready to Make Nice”
The fall-out from Natalie Maines’ off-hand comment about then-President George W. Bush during a 2003 performance in London has been thoroughly and exhaustively documented. It wasn’t until the band’s 2006 record, Taking the Long Way, that the band had its say in the matter. Deeply cathartic and arresting, the LP was a Grammy magnet, earning the Chicks a sweep in the Song, Record and Album of the Year categories.
In the 14 years between Taking the Long Way and Gaslighter, the band’s eighth and latest studio album, Maines, Strayer and Maguire all pursued solo projects and outside interests. There were tours in 2013 and 2016, but once the DCX World Tour wrapped in April 2017, the band was more or less on hiatus until it re-emerged in 2020, announcing a name change and a new record, which brimmed with the Chicks’ trademark blend of savvy and sting.
The Chicks at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, Irving. 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 11. Monday is officially sold out, but resale tickets are available. Tickets ($29-$249.50) are available for Tuesday’s concert.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.