The Dixie Chicks are getting together to record again — but not like that.
The Texas trio, which has been on hiatus since 2007, has been tapped by actor-comic-musician Steve Martin to sing on a track for the followup to his Grammy Award-winning 2009 bluegrass album, “The Crow: New Songs For the 5-String Banjo.”
“It was right up our alley, because we are looking for projects that are fun and exciting and different, and that’s just something that’s perfect,” Martie Maguire — who’s currently on the road with her sister and fellow Chick Emily Robison in their other band, Court Yard Hounds — tells Billboard.com. “Of course we said yes to begin with, but then he sent the song and it’s really good, so we’re really excited. I think we assumed we were going to play, but he’s got this amazing bluegrass band (the Steep Canyon Rangers), so we’re just harmonizing.”
But Maguire and Robison are circumspect as to whether the Martin project will jump-start some future Chicks activity and perhaps lead to the group’s first album since 2006’s “Taking the Long Way.”
“We just kind of 1/8take3/8 one thing at a time as far as opportunities from the outside,” says Robison. “I think we’re excited to start writing again and getting new songs for whatever project they happen to be for. But 1/8the Chicks3/8 had a lot of fun in June playing with the Eagles, so I would dare say that in the next nine months we’ll be doing something, one way or another.”
Meanwhile, Court Yard Hounds is keeping Robison and Maguire fully engaged. The sisters and their band are currently on a short run with Lilith Fair and also have a handful of additional shows booked. They’re also planning an Australian tour for late October and November.
Meanwhile, in August they plan to film a video for “See You in the Spring,” a collaboration with Jakob Dylan that’s slated to be the next single from the “Court Yard Hounds” debut album — which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 in May. So far, they say, the duo is pleased with how the endeavor is being received.
“It’s really good,” notes Robison. “We wanted to do this to have fun, without any expectations other than to pay for itself and have fun, and I think we’ve reached both those goals. We feel very lucky in a lot of ways.”
Robison says the hardest thing about being in Court Yard Hounds is having just one album from which to construct a set list, although the group has been playing an unreleased song tentatively called “Caged Bird,” as well as a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight.”
And, Maguire adds, being able to keep doing music keeps the two of them primed and in good working shape whenever other opportunities comes along.
“I feel like Court Yard Hounds keeps us idling,” she explains. “I think Emily and I function better when we’re continually making music and playing, and this is a way to keep doing that. So we’re idling, and when Natalie says jump, we’re ready to jump and do the Dixie Chicks thing again, too. It makes us all fulfilled and happy that way, I think.”