Detroit, MI 2004

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Dixie Chicks, James Taylor Rock On In Support Of Kerry

DETROIT - The Dixie Chicks and James Taylor stayed on message as they rocked the Fox Theater in Detroit.

The 2 1/2-hour sellout show on Sunday featured surprise guest Neil Young as about $240,000 was raised for the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

MoveOn PAC volunteers were outside stumping for Kerry, but the crowd inside didn't seem to need much persuading. 

"We need a change desperately," said Mark Brooks, 44, of Ida Township. "This is the most important election in history - at least in my lifetime. I'm here strictly to support John Kerry."

Diane Carrioco, 39, of Grosse Ile said she didn't mind being a Bush supporter in a sea of Kerryites.

"I'm always out-numbered," said the business owner. "But it doesn't matter: I love the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor."

Accompanied only by his guitar, Taylor opened with "I Feel Fine" before getting right to the political point.

"It's good to see you out in support of such an important effort," he said. "After the debates, I'm feeling good. I feel like our guy could do it."

Taylor's optimism garnered cheers from the audience, many of whom were decked out in patriotic gear and Kerry/Edwards T-shirts and buttons. But they roared when Young suddenly took the stage, waving his long, gray hair and warbling "Heart of Gold."

Taylor and the Chicks traded sets and sang together, with Natalie Maines taking lead vocal on "Sweet Baby James" and Taylor returning the favor on "Some Days You Gotta Dance."

Maines told the crowd her life has been changed by the criticism she's received for saying she was ashamed to share her home state of Texas with Bush.

"Before 'the incident,' life was good," she said. "'Post-incident,' every time I go to a restaurant I wonder if the cook is a Republican. Did he spit in my food?"

But she'd do it again.

"You know what?" Maines said. "If I took it back they'd just call me a flip-flopper, so I'm sticking to it."

Dixie Chicks with James Taylor

By Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press

THE SCENE: A crowd made up largely of laid-back suburbanites ranging in age from 30 to 60 trickled into the ornate Fox Theatre in an orderly fashion as show time approached. Volunteers from MoveOn.org set up an information table in the lobby an hour or so before the show began, but it drew little interest from fans. T-shirts and buttons bearing political slogans in favor of Sen. John Kerry and against President George W. Bush were seen, but they were the exception.

THE SHOW: Taylor and the Chicks showered the people with sweet harmonies, a smattering of politics and an unexpected guest Sunday night.

"Thanks for showing up," Taylor said soon after opening with "Something in the Way She Moves." "It's good to see you all out in support of something so important."

A few tunes later, he was joined on stage by surprise guest Neil Young, who treated a delighted crowd to "Harvest Moon" and "Heart of Gold."

The Chicks, making their first appearance of the evening, joined Young on the chorus of the latter. Then the Chicks and Taylor shared the stage for most of the 2 1/2 -hour show, collaborating on familiar tunes. Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines took the lead on a harmony-rich version of Taylor's "Sweet Baby James," while Taylor helmed the Chicks' spirited "Some Days You Gotta Dance." After intermission, the Chicks revved up the crowd with "Sin Wagon."Political talk was kept to a minimum during the show's second half, highlighted by "Carolina In My Mind" by Taylor.

ATTENDANCE: Approximately 4,800 (sold out).

WHAT FANS SAID: Bill Ramsey, 43, of Monroe showed up two hours early because he feared he and his wife, Tammy, 41, might miss the Taylor show because of heavy traffic. "If it was just a political rally, we probably wouldn't be here," he said. His wife added that they support Kerry.

Ellen Morris, a Toledo woman who did not reveal her age, was wearing a cowboy hat emblazoned with "Chicks Dig Kerry" on one side and "Cowgirls 4 Change" on the other. "I think we need a change. ... I've been laid off for a long time. ... My unemployment has run out. I'm not even counted as being unemployed anymore."

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