The Lilith Fair tour may have been chick-music ground zero for three summers running now, but only one group has had the nerve to go out in front of the feminist-filled crowd proudly bearing the C word as part of their name. That would of course be the Dixie Chicks, the first country act to play the Lilith main stage. Their’s is not exactly a tentative introduction to the mix, either: The Chicks are playing 19 gigs on this year’s tour, more than anyone except for founder Sarah McLachlan and the tireless Sheryl Crow.
The Texas-based trio recently joined the festival in Southern California and got any anxieties about being accepted out of the way quickly. ”We were shocked at how many people knew the words to our songs,” fiddler Martie Seidel tells EW Online. ”It was almost like playing for a country audience. You almost forget you’re at Lilith Fair and sandwiched in between a lot of rock and alternative artists.”
”There’s a lot more country fans there than we thought there were going to be,” agrees singer Natalie Maines. ”But you can see us turn a lot of people’s minds during the set too. They start out not really knowing who we are, or our songs. And by ‘Sin Wagon’ or ‘Goodbye Earl’ (two particularly grrl-happy songs lifted from their upcoming album, ”Fly,” a late August release) we can see we’ve won ‘em over.”
Winning over new fans is what the Chicks have been doing their entire careers. Says Maines: ”There’s three blondes who like hair and makeup and clothes, and unless you know the history – that the band started 10 years ago and this configuration’s been together for 4 years and all that – it looks like it’s just Nashville trying to make a country Spice Girls.”