Charlotte, NC 2003

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Dixie Chicks Do Country, Crossover
Blend of unique sounds, thoughtful ideas makes benefit a crowd-pleaser

by Courtney Devores,
Special to The Charlotte Observer

"Seems like every time we go overseas, we get ourselves in a little trouble," The Dixie Chicks' Martie Maguire said during a performance at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Friday.

The German press reported that the Chicks had declared their independence from country music, but Maguire told the fans she doesn't recall saying that.

Last spring, the group was ostracized by patriotic peers for vocalist Natalie Maines' anti-Bush comments.

While The Chicks are definitely still country, there was some crossover that leaned more toward the Americana sound of their last album, the heavily acoustic "Home."

Folk-rockers The Indigo Girls opened the show, which benefited the Honor the Earth organization.

The eclectic bill was lessened somewhat by the last-minute cancellation of Winston-Salem native Ben Folds' set. He showed up but had technical piano problems. The crowd that turned out was as enthusiastic for The Indigo Girls, who closed with "Galileo" and "Chicken Man," as they were for The Chicks.

The black-clad Chicks took the stage to Elvis Costello's "Peace, Love and Understanding" and launched into the hit "Long Time Gone." Maines appeared in thigh-high black stockings and a houndstooth miniskirt with her blonde ponytail swept up in the same fashion as Garbage's Shirley Manson and No Doubt's Gwen Stefani.

Throughout the set, they touched on political songs such as "Truth #2," during which free-speech clips flash on the venue's screens. It would be difficult to accuse The Dixie Chicks of being unpatriotic during their chilling rendition of "Travelin' Soldier," which ended with a military-style drum roll and Maguire's aching fiddle.

The concert not only benefited Native American and environmental causes, but was also part of "Daniel Pearl Music Day," a dedication to journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan while covering a story following 9-11. Pearl, who would have celebrated his 40th birthday on Friday, played violin and mandolin. The Chicks dedicated the song "More Love" to him.

The Indigo Girls returned to perform their early hit "Closer to Fine" with The Dixie Chicks and Folds during the finale, as well as their song "Power of Two" and The Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces."

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