Liane Bonin
April 22, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Despite being banned by some country music radio stations following singer Natalie Maines’ anti-Bush comments on March 10, the Dixie Chicks are still selling out venues for their summer concert tour, which begins May 3 in Orlando, Florida. Of the 59 shows scheduled, only six have available seats. Those unsold tickets aren’t expected to last long: Those few straggling venues are already 85 to 90 percent sold out.

The impressive statistics don’t necessarily mean that the anti-Chick backlash is over, however. The band’s first concert dates went on sale March 1, well before Maines’ inflammatory comments hit the press. A majority of shows sold out within minutes, with fans snapping up over 850,000 tickets. That record-breaking weekend (which grossed $49 million) qualified the Chicks’ tour as a hit well before the backlash began.

But Rob Light, the band’s rep at Creative Artists Agency, insists that Maines’ statements had no impact on overall ticket sales. ”To be brutally honest, there has been no effect [on ticket sales], other than the odd phone call to a building inquiring about a refund,” Light told Billboard. ”Actually, the buildings are getting more asking, if there are refunds, can they buy the tickets.” In any case, Light says that no refunds are being offered.

Still, the Chicks are struggling on the charts. Sales of the Chicks’ new album dropped by two-thirds in the month following Maines’ outburst. But the group can take some comfort in knowing that they’re still at No. 1 on the country music album chart, just above Toby Keith’s ”Unleashed.” After Maines slammed Keith’s ”Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” as ”ignorant,” Keith retaliated during a concert by pairing a picture of Natalie Maines with one of Saddam Hussein on a video screen.

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