'Dixie Chicks: On the Fly'
3 out of 4 stars
As the cameras find the giddily fervent fans of the band during "Dixie Chicks: On the Fly," the rollicking NBC concert special goes into girl-power overdrive.
The celebratory images include young women in "Chicks Rule" T-shirts and cowboy hats. There are women on their feet, swaying to the music, big smiles on their faces, singing along to the songs during the Dixie Chicks' sold-out two-night concert stand in Washington, D.C., last August.
"We didn't want to change anything (about our live concerts) for the TV special. And that particular show, there were lots of girls with leopard-print (cowboy) hats. There were just so many young girls there," says Martie Seidel, one-third of the phenominally popular country group.
"I wasn't that self-confident when I was growing up," Seidel recalled during a Dixie Chicks teleconference last week with her sister, Emily Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines. "It's important for girls to learn to be strong women. I think girls today seem much more confident.
"We just try to be real. Obviously, we've made mistakes. We go through divorces. We just want to show that we're real."
The proof that the Dixie Chicks also are real talented bursts forth in "Dixie Chicks: On the Fly," airing at 8 tonight on NBC, WDIV-TV, Channel 4. It's one of the most entertaining and free-spirited music specials of recent years.
The show revolves around the Chicks' high-energy blend of bluegrass and revved-up country music from their two multiplatinum albums, "Wide Open Spaces" and "Fly."
The most popular song - like "Sin Wagon," "Cowboy Take Me Away" and the rousing spousal-abuse revenge anthem "Goodbye Earl" - happily mixed with modern girl-power ingredients of down-home feminism, sheer romanticism and kick-out-the-jams sexuality. And, besides their terrific backup band, sister Seidel and Robison are gifted and versatile musicians whose skills include guitar, dobro, accordian and mandolin.
"On the Fly" has been superbly and colorfully produced by Joel Gallen, the clever man behind "The MTV Movie Awards" and the Emmy-winning special "A Supernatural Evening with Carlos Santana."
Gallen and the Chicks also shrewdly brought in comic Andy Dick ("News Radio") for some brief, amusing skits that tie the musical segments together. The dizzy Dick portrays a network image consultant who supplies the Dixie Chicks with idiot wisdom on how to package themselves and their music. This non-Nashville cat actually thinks it's called "the Grand Old Oprah."
"He's hilarious," says Robison of Dick's daft contributions. "His girlfriend is a big Chicks fan. And he said she'd never forgive him if he didn't do these skits with us."
But the comedy is merely a side dish.
Some fabulous American music, vividly captured in live performance, is the main course. And "Dixie Chicks: On the Fly" is a marvelously enjoyable eye-candy jamboree that should transform anyone who watches it into a devoted fan.
Chicks rock! Chicks rule!