Texan trio the Dixie Chicks have milked their European storms of life with a headline grabbing blitz to prime the publicity pump in the unlucky radio country.

First it was lead singer Natalie Maines exercising free speech in a London concert with famed comments about fellow Texan George Dubya Bush.

Natalie earned an airplay ban for the Grammy award winning group by quipping "just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

Those comments may have caused shock in their homeland where corporate radio and power brokers like to flex their muscles to suppress dissent.

But they boosted their popularity in Europe and Australia where the freedom of anti and pro war debate is one of the reasons that wars against dictatorships are fought.

Total sales of their six albums, dating back to debut disc Thank Heavens For Dale Evans in 1990, have now soared beyond 30 million.

The biggest loser was Austin singer-songwriter Bruce Robison whose hit single Travellin' Soldier - an evocative anti-war song soaring the charts - was dumped by radio.

The song is a highlight of the Chicks sixth album Home which topped Australian charts and been re-packaged with a bonus concert DVD for their third Australian concert invasion.


Now the soaring superstars have emerged unscathed from a plane mishap after flying from Dublin to Glasgow on the eve of their second Australian tour.

The wing of a plane they were travelling on clipped the side of a building after the aircraft landed at Glasgow Airport last week.

The Grammy award winning Chicks had just a chartered, twin-engine jet for a show that evening at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Center in Glasgow.

Chicks, crew and fellow passengers disembarked safely and walked into the airport.
"There was a minor accident at the Glasgow airport and we are fine," said the band's publicist Barbara Charone.

"No one was injured. It sounds worse than it really was."

The plane was taxiing at walking speed toward its parking spot when the tip of one wing clipped a building.

Firefighters were called to the scene but it wasn't considered a major accident and the plane and the building reportedly suffered only superficial damage.


Group members took turns poking fun at the Lubbock native at their return London concerts.

Ms. Maines went first, unstrapping her guitar 10 minutes into the concert to reveal a large, white peace symbol emblazoned on her black tank top.

"Well, well, well. What do you know? Back in London," she told a sell-out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall. "Anything been going on in ya'll's lives since the last time we were here? Nothing much been happening with us. Pretty boring."

Quoting almost exactly from the ill-fated phrase she used 10 days before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March, Ms. Maines added, "Just so you know, we are ashamed."
She paused as the audience responded with gasps and groans.

She concluded her sentence, "That we've never played the Royal Albert Hall before."
Later, vocalist and violin player Martie Maguire remarked that many people had questioned the group's patriotism "since last March, when Natalie put her big foot in her mouth."
But she insisted, "We're proud to be Americans."
British commentators have been supportive amid rising anti-war sentiment in the country.


"A man said 'folks, would you bow your heads/ for a list of the Vietnam dead'/ crying all alone under the stands/ was a piccolo player in the marching band/ and one name read, and nobody really cared/ but a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair." - 'Travellin' Soldier' - Bruce Robison.

Acclaimed Austin songwriter Bruce Robison was a big winner and loser when Maines vented her anger on George Dubya Bush on the eve of the latest Baghdad bunfight.
Bruce's tune Travelling Soldier was earning him healthy royalties at No 1 on airplay charts when Maines slammed Bush at a London concert.

With hypocritical herd mentality, owners of U.S. corporate country music chains dumped the Chicks from airplay and incited listeners to burn their CDS.

This did wonders for the trio whose sales for sixth album, Home, surged beyond seven million and took total sales beyond 30 million.

It gave Robison, 36 and a strapping 6 foot 6 in, the highest profile of his career and boosted publishing royalties from album sales.

But the cluster bombing rendered collateral damage to the former basketball star and slashed his airplay income.

After lavish TV and radio exposure Robison, singing spouse of Kelly Willis, was set to clean up in slipstream of another of his tunes, 'Angry All The Time,' - an huge hit for Tim McGraw.
This hit was expected to win stacks more airplay on the Dixie Chicks Top Of The World tour that brought them back to Australia in September.

See GIG GUIDE for full dates.

Some Texas stations used lateral thinking and played Robison's original version from his third album, 'Long Way Home From Anywhere.'

It first appeared on Bruce's 1995 debut solo disc; his second album, 'Wrapped,' was produced by Natalie's dad, Lloyd.

But the sweetest irony is that 'Travelling Soldier' is an anti-war narrative with a sting in the tale.

An 18 year-old soldier with no family or friends, en route to Vietnam, asks a waitress to be his pen pal and promises to return after combat.

He does - in a body bag.

The saga elevated Bruce above elder brother Charlie - singing spouse of Dixie Chicks banjo-dobro player Emily - and co-writer of 'Evil Angels' movie inspired tune, 'One In A Million.'

That song - researched by Bruce on his Australian tour - was on Charlie's third album 'Step Right Up.'

We have illustrated the Robison song with a history of war inspired country songs down the years.


Radio bans of free speech stifles country artists like Maines and Steve Earle from shooting from the hip.

Sadly, the victims have been writers with alternate views to governments of the day.
Wars, of course, are fought to ensure citizens - especially artists - enjoy freedom of speech.

But the fascists of the right, like the lemmings of the left, only want freedom to apply to them.

The alternate view prevailed on sixties rock radio when Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, Tom Paxton and others won airplay at the peak of the senseless Vietnam War.
But, not, alas on modern country radio.

Travellin Soldier, like Georgian Alan Jackson's 'Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning,' Buddy Miller's '100 Million Little Bombs' & Jamie O'Hara's '50 Million Names,' is a poignant anti-war tune but the ban means it's exposure will pale in comparison.

U.S. radio didn't ban Hank Williams Jr, Charlie Daniels, Toby Keith, Merle Haggard and Darryl Worley when they raised their flag.

They have the right to express their opinion - so do artists with contrasting views.
Country artists don't have that problem here - they're banned because of corporate radio chains contempt for the genre.

There are two small exceptions - two Adelaide artists.

Folkie Eric Bogle's evocative anti-war tune 'And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda' sneaks under the radar on Anzac Day.

And former Redgum singer John Schumann wins worthy exposure with his evocative Vietnam vignette 'I Was Only 19.'

WORLD WAR 1 - 1914-18

Although my memories of early wars are lost in the haze of time in the bush I can still hum a few historic country tunes.
Mississippi legend Jimmie Rodgers snuck onto radio with his World War 1 tune 'The Soldier's Sweetheart.'
I'm not quite word perfect but I do recall 'Filipino Baby,' and 'The Battleship Maine' from the Spanish American war and 'The Kaiser and Uncle Sam' and 'The Rainbow Division' from the Great War.

WORLD WAR 11 - 1939-45

But my memories of World War 11 are more vivid.

How could I forget Denver Darling 'Cowards Over Pearl Harbour,' Carson Robison 'Here We Go To Tokyo, Said Barnacle Bill the Sailor,' 'We're Gonna Have To Slap The Dirty Little Jap' and double-sided 'Hitler's Letter To Hirohito' and 'Hirohito's Letter To Hitler.'

The 'evil axis' got a jog in Edgar Britt's 'There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere' - a crippled mountain boy wants to "help to bring the Axis down a peg."
Tex Ritter did 'There's a Gold Star in Her Window,' Eddy Arnold - 'Mother's Prayer' and 'Did You See My Daddy Over There?,' Gene Autry - 'At Mail Call Today' and Bob Wills' 'White Cross on Okinawa' and 'Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima.'

KOREA - 1950-3

Lulu Belle and Scotty landed 'I'm No Communist' in 1952, Little Jimmy Dickens - 'They Locked God Outside the Iron Curtain' - and Ferlin Husky - 'Let's Keep the Communists Out.'

Red River Dave McEnery revamped T.Texas Tyler's 1948 hit 'Deck of Cards' to 'The Red Deck of Cards,' Ernest Tubb - 'A Heartsick Soldier On Heartbreak Ridge' and Arthur Q. Smith - 'Missing in Action.'

Britt and Bill Monroe recorded 'Rotation Blues' and The Louvin Brothers cut 'From Mother's Arms To Korea.'

VIETNAM - 1965-73

Johnny Wright topped charts in 1965 with Tom T. Hall's 'Hello Vietnam', Kris Kristofferson wrote 'Vietnam Blues' for Dave Dudley and Stonewall Jackson - 'The Minute Men Are Turning in Their Graves.'

In 1966 Charlie Moore and Bill Napier asked 'Is This a Useless War?' and Dudley cut 'What We're Fighting For.'

McEnery crooned 'It's for God, Country and You, Mom (That's Why I'm Fighting in Vietnam)' and Barry Sadler came unstuck with 'Ballad of the Green Berets,'
Loretta Lynn asked hard questions in her poignant 'Dear Uncle Sam' (1966) when she sang 'you don't need him like I do.'

The Wilburn Brothers hit with 'Little Johnny From Down the Street' (who "died in a foreign land all alone") and 'The War Keeps Dragging On.'

Merle Haggard landed punches with 'Okie From Muskogee' and 'The Fightin' Side of Me' in 1969-1970.

GULF WARS 1979-2003

The Iranian hostage crisis (1979-1981) inspired 'Take Your Oil and Shove It,' revamp of the David Allan Coe hit.

Charlie Daniels later fanned flames with 'In America,' Hank Williams Jr head kicked Hussein with 'Don't Give Us a Reason' and Aaron Tippin fuelled fires with 'You've Got to Stand for Something' and 'Where the Stars And Stripes And The Eagle Fly.'

They were all accepted on radio but not Steve Earle who lanced bucolic boils with his alternate anthem, 'John Walker's Blues,' which deserves to be heard for balance.

An American tank commander painted the name 'Bocephus' on his M-1 A1 Abrams tank - tribute to Hank Jr who sent this message to him.

"Turn out Saddam's lights in Baghdad, son, and get back home quick. You're a man whose hand I want to personally shake."

Further collateral damage from the Dixie Chicks claimed Texan troubadour Kevin Deal - a popular artist on Nu Country and roots country music shows on Australian community radio.


"I might have a couple that could make it to No 1/ you know just one break could make the difference between a millionaire and bum." - 'You Ain't Nobody' - Kevin Deal.

Texan troubadour Kevin Deal was paid the ultimate compliment - he was banned from airplay because Lloyd Maines produced his fourth album 'The Lawless.'

Nothing wrong with production by Maines whose clients include the Robison boys, Adam Carroll, Pat Green, Great Divide, Terry Allen, Joe Ely & Dixie Chicks.

Hang on, there's the problem.

Veteran Lubbock born multi-instrumentalist Lloyd sired Chicks singer Natalie Maines who exercised her freedom of speech in the recent Baghdad bunfight.

The right for which western countries fought wars since bows, arrows and spears were replaced by nukes.

It's a long stretch of the bow but Deal copped it in the neck because of bloodlines of his producer.

Texas radio tsar Paul Beane who runs KRBL, Lubbock, KLVT, Levelland & KZZN, Littlefield - birthplace of Waylon Jennings - banned Deal.

On April 25 the promo copy of 'The Lawless' was returned to Deal, unopened, with a letter from Beane thanking him for his efforts.

Beane says his stations won't support Maines music - bizarre as Lloyd produced more than 50 Texan artists, many of whom have been played on Beane's bunkhouses.


He cited Natalie Maines "bitter attack" on radio stations that refused to play the Dixie Chicks because she was ashamed George Dubya was from her home state of Texas.

"I have no problem with someone who doesn't like my music," says Deal - father of five.
"Of course, I wish they'd like it, but if they don't that's fine. Paul could have thrown my album in the trash if he didn't like it, but instead he sends it back, unopened, with this letter. He's the owner of the station and can play what he wants, but I don¹t think it¹s very fair of him. If every musician had to fill out a survey on their political beliefs and personal habits, I don't think many people would get played on the radio."

With irony that normally permeates songs, not just stories, Deal and Maines confessed to voting for George Dubya who also hosted Kinky Friedman at the White House.

"I voted for Reagan in the 1980's, too," added Deal - a long tall Texan at 6 foot 4 in - "and I'm a member of the NRA. It's people like Beane who give the right wing a bad name.

I have plenty of friends who have views totally different from mine and we can have a conversation about it. That's the beauty of America - we can all live together with opposing viewpoints."

The plot thickened when Beane, the badlands variety, revealed Lloyd's family band 'The Maines Brothers' played at his daughter's engagement party.

"Hell, I feel betrayed," Beane sprouted before wishing Deal luck.

"I hope he sells 10 million records and gets on the cover of Rolling Stone but I'd be greener than a spring chicken if I did anything to help someone who made it clear that they are my enemy. I didn't start I didn't start this war, Lloyd did. As far as I'm concerned, he can kiss my ass."

The Lawless reached #20 on the Americana charts despite, or maybe, because of the ban.


So what about the musical merits of 'The Lawless?'

Well, it's the most eclectic of Deal's four discs with raw narratives and morality tales about outlaws, in-laws, truckers, temptresses, backsliders and crusaders.

And, with more irony, it's made radio friendly by superb production and playing by a credible cast including multi-instrumentalist Maines and harmonies by Terri Hendrix.
There's a deep bluegrass feel, especially in 'Gideon,' and hot harmonica and writing by Deal.

'You Ain't Nobody' has prophetic lyrics.

"I been trying to write a hit song, heard it only takes one/ ain't making any money but I having lots of fun/ sent demos off to Warner Brothers, Sony and MCA/ they all come right back to me, they're stamped the same old way."

Deal, like many peers, is too country for radio.

The solace - his biggest hero was also crucified without trial, just a few years older than Hank @ 29.

The trial of the satiric stonemason, 40, was also heard by a judge - with no jury.
Collateral damage ensures healthy exposure here for Deal, Maines and Dixie Chicks - more info @ www.kevindeal.com

"He thought this might prevent people using Lloyd as a producer but what it is really doing is getting people to ask were they can purchase the Maines Bros reissue CD," Deal's wife Kim told Nu Country, "which by the way is at Ralph's in Lubbock."
Ends Dawson.

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