Shut Up & Sing

SIGN LANGUAGE Fans support the outspoken Maines.
SIGN LANGUAGE Fans support the outspoken Maines.

Time Out says

Let’s throw out some numbers first, just for perspective’s sake: eight albums, three of which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Seven Grammys. More than $100 million worth of concert tickets sold. And finally, one offhanded comment, which nearly turned the Dixie Chicks into a distant memory.

You remember the remark, right? The one singer Natalie Maines made in 2003 about how she was “ashamed President Bush was from the state of Texas”? After she expressed her opinion on a London stage, much of the Chicks’ conservative country-music fan base denounced them, radio stations deserted them, and Maines and fellow Dixie-ites Emily Robison and Martie Maguire received death threats. Freedom may have been the buzzword at the time, but apparently, the ability to speak freely didn’t extend to three ladies from the Lone Star State.

Directors Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, U.S.A.) and Cecilia Peck followed the group as it faced a shitstorm back home, and like the Metallica-implodes portrait Some Kind of Monster, the result ends up being more than just a standard-issue rockumentary. Cutting between the fallout and the band recording an angry follow-up album, Shut Up & Sing becomes a testament to not backing down. The level of prickly defiance these unlikely First Amendment advocates demonstrate is inspiring, though the movie occasionally bends over backward to paint them as freedom fighters rather than three musicians inadvertently caught in the crossfire. Still, it’s hard not to be moved watching the pint-size Maines refuse to kowtow to political and industry bullies. These Texans won’t be messed with, folks. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — David Fear



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