On Their Way Up
Dynamic trio going places

By ANIKA VAN WYK -- Sun Country Editor

Calgary will always hold a special place in the hearts of the Dixie Chicks, and vice versa.

"Hi y'all. We are virgins to Canada. This is our first Canadian show," Natalie Maines told the wild and crazy crowd at Nashville North last night.

The packed audience at the Sun-sponsored tent were treated to a fantastic show filled with high energy, great songs and, oh yeah, three beautiful blond Chicks -- Maines (lead vocals), Emily Erwin (vocals, dobro, banjo and acoustic guitar) and Martie Seidel (vocals, fiddle and mandolin).

People often say there isn't anything new or original out there any more, but that's not true. The proof is in the Dixie Chick style -- a style that can't be pigeonholed into one category but takes the best from blues, bluegrass, pop, rock and country twang.

The trio is perfectly constructed, with each of the three women complementing the other.

Maines is a superb frontwoman. Her powerful voice has unique inflections which meld beautifully from style to style, and she her fun-lovin' and flirtatious stage presence instantly wins over the audience. Part-way through the show, she promised everyone the band would sign autographs on just about anything after the second set. She quickly qualified the promise with the sassy statement: "It has to be bigger than a baby's arm!"

With all three Chicks busy doing something different on stage, there is never a worry of boredom setting in -- there is always something to look at.

However, with hot hits like There's Your Trouble (currently No. 1 on CMT) and their first single I Can Love You Better, being bored really isn't a worry anyhow.

The title track from the Dixie Chicks' debut album, Wide Open Spaces, along with the slower Loving Arms, were also highlights.

Unlike, most of the other nights when the dancefloor was full of two-steppers, last night there was little dancing. Instead, people crowded in front of the stage and intently watched this white-hot group do their stuff.

The Dixie Chicks are on their way up -- way up.