Natalie Maines performs with Ben Harper during the SXSW Music Festival, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP Images)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Natalie Maines is starting out nervous on stage, almost 10 years to the day that the Dixie Chicks spitfire slammed then-President George W. Bush and forever changed the fate and fortunes of the country superstars.
On this night she barely speaks between songs.
Her hair slicks up in a punkish pompadour. She looks slimmer than when the Dixie Chicks began a hiatus in 2007 that may never end. The crowd at the South by Southwest music festival to hear Maines perform her solo debut “Mother” for only the second time is a healthy size, but it is also far from a packed house.
“We missed you, Natalie!” one fan hollers.
Maines smiles but doesn’t banter back.
“I ask myself, ‘Why is that? What are you doing, girl?’” Maines told The Associated Press the next morning at a downtown Austin hotel. “I think right now I have so much to remember. This is the most guitar I’ve ever had to play.”