Need To Know: The Court Yard Hounds


By Dustin Fitzharris

In the spring of 2003 the Dixie Chicks went from country music's sweethearts to outcasts. While performing in London, their lead vocalist, Natalie Maines, told the audience, 'Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.' Maines's words sent shock waves through the conservative country music community. Instantly, the Dixie Chicks' music was boycotted, sponsors dropped them, and fellow artists turned their noses up at the mention of their name. In the process, however, the Dixie Chicks gained a whole new fan base, including the LGBT community who admired their moxie and echoed Maines's sentiments about President Bush and the war.

The Dixie Chicks bounced back and scored big at the Grammy Awards, winning album, record, and song of the year for "Taking the Long Way Home." Then the music stopped. Maines had had enough and wanted to take a break. Her band mates, sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, stood by in the wings waiting for Maines to return. Eventually the months turned into years and Robison and Maguire felt an aching in their creative souls. Enter the Court Yard Hounds, a brand new band that consists of only Robison and Maguire. The name was inspired by a novel Robison was reading called City of Thieves. Within the book there is another book called The Courtyard Hound. Their self-titled debut album, released earlier this month, debuted at number 7 on the Billboard charts.

Although they have a new name, in true Dixie Chicks fashion, they are already creating controversy. This time it's with a song called 'Ain't No Son,' which tells the story of a teenage boy who comes out to this father and then is disowned. The inspiration came from a TV special Robison was watching about teenage kids who are thrown out of their homes because of their sexuality. As Robison says, 'How can you have kids and love them so much and one day decide not to? It just boggled my mind.'

Out caught up with Maguire, who talked about that song, her thoughts on Sarah Palin, and why she thinks she is the "chick" that all the women want.

Out: Before we talk about anything else, we need to talk about the song 'Ain't No Son.' Were you concerned about releasing a song about a gay teenager? How do you think country music fans are going to respond?
Martie Maguire: I really don't have a gauge on what the country music industry is anymore. After we had our controversy with them, I guess I just felt like I was the redheaded stepchild and kicked out of the inner family of that genre.

What are your thoughts on the country music community?
When I hear that country music is so racist or that it's so intolerant, I know it frustrates the hell of my friends who are embedded in the business. So, I know a lot of people who would say that it's not all like that. Obviously you try to stay away from generalizations about anything, but the fact that it's news that Chely Wright is gay, in this day and age, is that really news? I just don't understand.

Do you think country music is still conservative?
I think if I were to generalize, I would say, 'yes.' I don't think what happened, even to us, would've happened without a pretty conservative base. They tend to be Republican. They tend to be antigay.

Looking back now, how do you feel country music insiders responded to Natalie's comment about President Bush and the war?
After the documentary [Shut Up & Sing] came out and the Grammys, you could almost look out into the audience and see the country faces that so wished you hadn't won the Grammy.

Like who?
Reba McEntire. She wouldn't even clap. Then the camera panned to her, so she mustered a little applause for the camera. That was actually captured on the telecast. She's been outwardly critical of us. Some of it has been poking fun and that's fine, because we have been the butt of jokes. However, some of it, and not just Reba in particular, was pretty harsh. I think Natalie, as strong as she is, was really affected. She just got tired of everyone being in her face. It really haunted her for a while, and she feels free from that now.

Where does that experience sit with you today?
I feel like we gained so many fans just based on one little sentence, which is the greatest publicity stunt you could ever ask for, without it being a stunt. You say one thing and win tens of thousands of fans, and I really think we did.