At least four shows cancelled.

Out-of-the-gate ticket sales for the Dixie Chicks' upcoming Accidents & Accusations tour are far below expectations and several dates will likely be cancelled or postponed.

Initial ticket counts for the 20-plus arena shows that went on sale last weekend were averaging 5,000-6,000 sold per show in major markets and less in secondaries, according to sources contacted by Billboard.biz. Venue capacities on the tour generally top 15,000.

In contrast, the band’s new album, “Taking the Long Way,” sold 526,000 units its first week, according to Nielsen Soundscan, down from their last album debut week for “Home” in 2002 (780,000 units), but still the third largest sales week of 2006 (Billboard.biz, May 31).

Despite the strong album sales early ticket sales are clearly not meeting projections. The plug was pulled on public on-sales for shows in Indianapolis (Aug. 23), Memphis (Sept. 27), Houston (Sept. 30) and Oklahoma City (Sept. 26) because of tepid pre-sales in a national promotion with Target stores. The Memphis show has been pulled off the route and the status of the shows in Indianapolis, Houston and Oklahoma City remain uncertain. Industry speculation currently has it that much or all of the U.S. tour may be postponed. At the very least it is likely routing and capacity will be reconfigured.

Early ticket sales for this tour are in marked contrast to the Chicks’ last proper tour in 2003 when a national on-sale moved some 867,000 tickets the first weekend, and second shows were added in several markets (Billboard, April 21, 2003). The Chicks ended up as the top-grossing country tour of 2003 at $62 million.

But not all shows on this tour are below projections. “We’re happy (with our on-sale) and comparatively seem to be ahead of most,” says John Page, Global Spectrum COO and GM at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, where the trio is booked for July 25. A second date was added for the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where the first show sold out in eight minutes. "Canada loves the Chicks," says ACC booking director Patti-Ann Tarlton.

After two shows in London, the U.S. tour was set to begin July 21 in Detroit. The tour is promoted by AEG Live, with the exception of Minneapolis and Chicago, promoted by Jam Productions (which reports sales as “good” for both shows), and Sacramento and Oakland in California, promoted by Another Planet Entertainment.

The Chicks are managed by Simon Renshaw and booked by Rob Light at Creative Artists Agency, both of whom declined to comment.