Dixie Darlings

By ANIKA VAN WYK -- Calgary Sun

CALGARY -- It's no fluke The Dixie Chicks are currently No. 1 on the Canadian country charts and have two shiny new country music award statues at home.

The blond Texas trio had the sold-out Jack Singer Concert Hall sizzling last night.

Beautiful, talented musicians with vivid personalities -- you could just hate them if they weren't so entertaining.

Who would have figured that three funky Chicks -- Natalie Maines, Emily Erwin and Martie Seidel -- would find the perfect mix between new and traditional country?

Sisters Erwin and Seidel make the banjo and fiddle sexy again.

Though they can break hearts and set fashion trends just as easily as The Spice Girls, this Girl Power group has real talent.

You couldn't ask for a better frontwoman than Maines.

Her powerful voice is refreshingly original and her energy and humour are highly contagious.

As she bounced around the stage with the agility of a veteran rocker, she got every toe in the joint tapping.

Not to be overshadowed, Erwin and Seidel added heavenly harmonies and some hot pickin' and fiddlin'.

The balance of talent between these three women was particularly well showcased in the songs Am I The Only One (Who's Ever Felt This Way) and the fiery Let 'Er Rip.

There's Your Trouble and Wide Open Spaces, the current single chart-topper, had the crowd on their feet. The new single, You Were Mine, is filled with such passion that it's sure to prove as big as their other hits, including I Can Love You Better.

Judging by all the young girls sporting knotted blond hairdos, it would be wrong not to mention the outfits worn by The Dixie Chicks last night.

Erwin looked a lot like a young Tammy Wynette in her long, black pantsuit and a sequined black-knit scarf worn on her head.

Maines sported black pants and top with a wild, hot-pink faux-fur collar.

Seidel had the Jackie O. image happening, with grey capri pants, matching top with a subtle fur collar.

The Dixie Chicks show at this summer's Calgary Stampede Nashville North tent gave us a hint of how hot this trio would become.

Last night's show proved these Chicks aren't just whistlin' Dixie.

They're here to stay.

One of the best things about country music is how sweeping it is in its acceptance of musicians into its genre.

The Mike Plume Band, who opened for The Dixie Chicks, are a perfect example of such variety. The Edmonton-based quartet is a little rock, pop, folk and country.

Unfortunately, even though their music is interesting and thoughtful, their live show distracts from it. The lead guitarist stole the attention away from the music with his grunge contortions, possessed head-shaking and fanciful hand dancing.