Sisters Emily Robison and Martie Maguire are figuring out how to be both Court Yard Hounds and Dixie Chicks during the coming months.
The Dixie duo will be releasing their self-titled debut as Court Yard Hounds on May 4 and plan to tour in support of it. But the Chicks, which have been on hiatus since touring to support 2006's Grammy Award-winning "Taking the Long Way," have announced an eight-date stadium run in June with the Eagles. Robison and Maguire tell Billboard.com they don't think the Dixie Chicks shows will hamper Court Yard Hounds' rollout.
"One had nothing to do with the other," Robison explains. "When (the Eagles shows) came up we were in the middle of planning promotion for (Court Yard Hounds), and we were like, 'Is this going to derail us?' But at the same time we were so excited to do it because of the opportunity it represents. And it answers the biggest question, the elephant in the room, which is 'Have the Dixie Chicks broken up?' To us it's almost the perfect, 'Shut up! Stop asking! Believe us when we say we're still together, we're just not working right now.` So it just kind of helped us do that."
Court Yard Hounds -- which was born last year after third Chick Natalie Maines decided she wasn't ready to return to the group yet -- played several shows at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, where the 12-track album was recorded at Maguire's home studio. "It was a big leap of faith," she says of the project. "We've always been part of a band, even when we were kids, not just us two. There's always been somebody in between us, and now I turn (looks left) and I'm like, 'Oh, hi. That's my sister!' It's like we're getting to know each other in a different way."
Robison wrote all but one of the songs on "Court Yard Hounds," which the duo co-produced with Jim Scott and features contributions by Lloyd Maines, Natalie's father, and a duet with Jakob Dylan ("See You in the Spring"). Court Yard Hounds are booked for a June 18 appearance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and will play on some of Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair dates during the summer, and more dates will be announced in the near future. Meanwhile, Robison and Maguire plan for the group to be a going concern parallel to the Dixie Chicks and have enough additional material written during the first album sessions to make for a good start on the next album.
"We're ready to do the next record," Maguire says. "We have more repertoire; we had, like 20 songs. We just hope the songs resonate with people so they want to hear them in years to come. That's always the goal, that you're making something that lives for a really long time and that people want to hear more of."