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HEROES OF THE WEEK: THE DIXIE CHICKS
Donít mess with dumb-ass
BY CLIF GARBODEN

Rednecks can be a tough audience. Simple folk demand a lot of pandering ó which is why some crossover Dixie Chicks fans from the effete Northeast worried that the progressive-country trio might be chasing the Bush war-wagon with their red-white-and-blue publicity shots, their Super Bowl rendition of the National Anthem, and a number-one song (albeit a tragic one) about a Vietnam soldier on their latest CD, Home. Fear not. On Monday, March 10, as first reported in the Guardian, DC singer (and Lubbock, Texas, native) Natalie Maines drew cheers from a London concert audience by confessing, " Just so you know, weíre ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas. "

The stateside backlash was swift, with Southern listeners calling for local radio stations to stop playing DC cuts. Initially at least, the Chicks held their ground, issuing a statement to the effect that free speech made America great and Bush was ignoring voices of dissent. But that didnít mollify the rabble. One Air Force town in Texas literally ran a bulldozer over Dixie Chicks CDs. KSCS, the official NASCAR station of Arlington, Texas, ran a Web poll in which 93.2 percent of 14,000 voters disagreed with Mainesís statement. The station has since invited public comment, the reasoning-level of which is typified by a Muskogee, Oklahoma, correspondent who wrote: " Yes, innocent lives will be lost if we go to war with Iraq. However, the reason for the war is to prevent even more innocent lives from being lost at the hands of an evil dictator through senseless terrorism. "

Locally, a smaller effort by Lowell-based country station WKLB-FM (99.5) fielded sentiments against Mainesís opinions but in favor of the station continuing to play DC music. According to a statement on the KLB Web site, the station will play the band " much less " and stop playing their version of the National Anthem altogether.

Maines did issue a stiff-sounding " apology " to Bush, on Friday, March 14, in which she proclaimed her pride in being American and admitted that the president deserved to be treated with respect. She also played the motherhood card ( " ... as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiersí lives are lost. " ). Hinting at more defiance, she also made reference to the " huge antiwar sentiment " the Chicks were encountering in Europe.

Most likely, the Dixie Chicks wonít learn the extent of the public-relations damage until they kick off their upcoming US tour on May 1 in Greenville, South Carolina. The Grammy darlings donít hit Bostonís FleetCenter until June 19, by which point they will have faced red-blooded US audiences from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Ames, Iowa. We suggest that Boston extend a warm welcome and an offer to relocate.

Issue Date: March 20 - 27, 2003
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