Sluggish ticket sales bring changes to Dixie Chicks tour

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Several concerts on the Dixie Chicks' "Accidents & Accusations" tour have been canceled after slow ticket sales, but the group says it has replaced them with other dates.

Kansas City, Houston, St. Louis, Memphis and Knoxville are among 14 cities no longer on the original schedule released in May, according to a revised itinerary posted Thursday on the Dixie Chicks' Web site.

Other shows, including Nashville, Los Angeles, Denver and Phoenix, have been pushed back to later dates.

The North American leg of the tour kicked off July 21 in Detroit. Billboard magazine and other trade publications have reported lackluster sales in some markets, particularly in the South and Midwest.

Group spokeswoman Kathy Allmand said Monday that the total number of North American dates remains the same, with several Canadian cities added in place of the U.S. shows.

The trio released a statement last week attributing the changes to attempts to "accommodate demand" and said more dates might be added next year.

The group also said the adjustments will allow them to promote the documentary "Dixie Chicks: Shut up and Sing," for the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

"This is a year where we weren't sure what to expect," the Dixie Chicks said.

"We hope that our fans who were looking forward to a stop that is no longer on the tour will be able to join us at a nearby arena this fall, and we are sorry for any confusion or inconvenience these changes have caused."

Many country fans criticized the band after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 on the eve of war in Iraq that the trio was "ashamed" President Bush was from their home state of Texas.

County radio stations dropped them from their playlists and have been slow to welcome them back, despite strong sales of their latest album, "Taking the Long Way."

The album, which has more of a rock edge than their previous releases, spent several weeks at the top of the country albums chart and has sold more than 1 million copies.

Still, Steve Ross, director of operations at WCBK in Martinsville, Ind., about 25 miles south of Indianapolis, said he wasn't surprised the Indiana show was canceled.

"The Dixie Chicks stuff is not requested like it used to be," Ross said. "I don't think the new album has had that big of an impact around here. I heard some of it and saw them on David Letterman, and the music is different than what they used to do."

In Kansas City, KFKF music director Tony Stevens said the cancelations show that a lot more people are willing to plunk down money for a CD than for concert tickets that generally start around $40 each.

"There just weren't 12,000 or 15,000 people who were going to invest that kind of money," Stevens said of the dropped Kansas City date. "And to a group of that caliber, I don't think they want to play to a half house."

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