Dixie Chicks Three hot country crooners JUST FOR KIDS, KID NEWS Maggie Welter

August 06, 1998|By Michael McGehee Pub date: 8/06/98 | Michael McGehee Pub date: 8/06/98,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

For years, the Dixie Chicks would perform anywhere to get noticed and break into the big time: The Texas trio sang on Dallas street corners, crooned at barbecues, even snuck into the lobby of "The David Letterman Show" (and were thrown out).

So when Martie Seidel, 28, Emily Erwin, 25, and Natalie Maines, 23, see audience members singing along to songs from their latest album, "Wide Open Spaces," they say they can't believe it.

"We're freaking out. We can't figure out why it's selling so well," Martie says. "And our crowds - we used to get excited if 200 people showed up. But now 1,200 to 1,500 people come out, and they know the words in our songs. It's very flattering."

What's propelling the three blond Chicks to success is a ton of talent. Among the three of them, they sing, play the fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar, and do a mean square dance. Their unique blend of pop, rock, bluegrass and twang has put their first single, "I Can Love You Better," in the Top 20 on the country music chart.

They're not as flattered, however, that they've been dubbed the Spice Girls of country by some critics.

"One, the Spice Girls don't play instruments," Martie protests. "Two, there are (four) of them and three of us, and three, we don't dress nearly as funky as they do."

But like the Spice Girls, the Dixie Chicks believe in Girl Power, and Natalie said sisterhood is an essential part of their success. (Real-life sisters Martie and Emily started started chirping in 1989; Natalie joined in 1995.)

"Martie and Emily are sisters, so for me it was a real goal to bond with them as a sister," Natalie says. "If you consider yourself like sisters then there's no backing out or giving up on things."

So where did the name "Dixie Chicks" come from? "We used to be called the Dixie Chickens," Martie explains. "Then we played at a barbecue place, and they had a sign saying, 'Featured Tonight: The Dixie Chickens,' and everybody started ordering it for dinner! So we shortened it."

One thing the trio isn't short on is respect for its young fans.

"We want to embrace the younger crowds and get them to embrace instruments," Martie says.

The group is also embracing the future. A tour is set for September and the Dixie Chicks will head to the recording studio to make a fifth album next winter.

Game Boy has its eye on you

We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw it. But in a snap, our Game Boy was watching us. Really.

We tried out the Game Boy Camera ($50, Game Boy), an attachment that fits into any Game Boy or Game Boy pocket unit. It has a swiveling eye lens that transforms the hand-held video-game system into an easy-to-use, low-cost digital camera.

The camera saves up to 30 black-and-white images that can be flipped or stretched. Plus, it allows gamers to put their faces on the characters of the four mini-games that come with it.

There's also a printer (sold separately for $60) that will print the photos on stickers that can be saved, traded or used to embarrass your friends.

We think the Game Boy Camera is amazing. It may seem a little expensive at $50, but it is well worth the dough.

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