NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While the Dixie Chicks' record sales are soaring, tickets for their Accidents and Accusations Tour are failing to take flight in some cities.
"I think before it's said and done the entire tour will be, at the very least, reorganized," Ray Waddell, senior editor of touring for Billboard magazine, said Friday.
Shows in cities including St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Okla., and Memphis, Tenn., are up in the air, according to Waddell.
The group said on its Web site that reports of cancellations are false.
"I don't think they've formally come out and canceled a single date, but I think that some sort of announcement will be coming next week," Waddell said.
The trio has caught a lot of criticism from country fans ever since lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 that the group was "ashamed" President Bush was from their home state of Texas.
In January, Maines told Entertainment Weekly magazine that she was disappointed with country music and that she's "pretty much done" with the genre.
Their new album's first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," addressed the controversy head on, with Maines singing in the chorus, "I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell and I don't have time to go round and round and round."
A spokeswoman for the group did not return a phone message.
"Any reports being made about the cancellation of our upcoming Accidents And Accusations tour are completely false. We have known since March 2003 that our path in this business would have obstacles at every pass," the Web site message to fans dated Friday said.
"This time around we are willingly feeling our way through unchartered territory. Things don't come as easy as they might have come in the past, and it makes each accomplishment more exciting and appreciated. We will go where the fans are with great anticipation and no regrets. To find out (along with us) where that is, visit www.dixiechicks.com for all updates," the message said.
Ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000 to 6,000 per show in major markets and less in smaller cities, Waddell said.
The group's Web site listed 12 dates in which public ticket sales were still to be announced — a sign that pre-sale tickets to fan clubs were weak in those markets. Organizers use pre-sales as a barometer of public interest, and if they are slow, often will postpone or pull the plug on public sales.
Waddell said most arenas can be reconfigured for theater seating, and shows can be moved to smaller venues if need be.
Not all markets are soft. Sales were reportedly brisk in Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. In Toronto, a first and second show sold out.
But the overall picture is far different from the Chicks' last tour in 2003, in which almost 900,000 tickets moved in the first weekend and second shows were added in several markets. The group ended up with the top-grossing country tour that year at $62 million.
While ticket sales have been off, album sales remain strong. The Chicks' new album "Taking the Long Way" sold 526,000 units its first week and 271,000 the second — enough to keep it at No. 1 on the country and overall album charts for two straight weeks.
"With an act like this that is supposed to be very hot, you would expect a lot more juice," Waddell said. "But that's not to say they couldn't come up with a couple of hit singles and renew interest. Anything can happen."