Dixie Chicks site set to 'Fly'
By Sara Lyle

Dixie Chicks

- Neither Garth Brooks nor Chris Gaines to go on Web Despite extensively marketing his upcoming album and movie, country music čber-star Garth Brooks still lays low online.

- Dixie Chicks
- Lilith Fair
- Bill Young Productions

Most country music fans have heard the Dixie Chicks second album, "Fly," is landing in stores today. Some may know the bottle blondes are wrapping up their Lilith Fair tour, too.

But the launch of "The Official Dixie Chicks Website" will make today a true Triple Crowner for the trio.

"They figured since the album was going out on Aug. 31, and the tour was ending, why not start the Web site and make it a big day," says their publicist Maura Mooney.

www.dixiechicks.com is the latest venture for the threesome whose mystique mixes everything from banjos to boas. Their debut album, "Wide Open Spaces," has sold six million copies so far and was named one of Rolling Stone magazine's essential records of 1998.

"The girls plan to take some time off (after the tour), and the Web site will be a way for them to stay connected to their fans," Mooney says.

The Chicks hit a nerve last year with many unlikely fans as their raucous brand of twang took more than Nashville's Music Row by storm.

They became the first country group to travel with Sarah McLachlan's all-girls tour and the only artists in the Country Music Award's history to be nominated "Entertainers of the Year" off a first album.

Recently, America Online even featured a chat about whether the Chicks were country or rock musicians.

"As far as marketing goes, they are a country band, and they are going to stay true to their country roots," their publicist affirms.

The Chicks' new Web site not only will link them to their fan base, it may even connect them to chats like AOL's, says site designer Sid Farbstein.

"I can't speak for them, but it could be feasible that one of the girls might pop into a chat room," Farbstein says. "I'm not saying it will happen, but it could."

Farbstein, who is director of new media at Bill Young Productions, also created George Strait's page, which is "one of the busiest sites in country music," he says.

The Web-savvy director first became acquainted with the Chicks while capturing online footage of Strait's cross-country concert. For eight weeks, the trio opened for the show.

The Chicks were impressed with Bill Young's 15-year background in music marketing, Farbstein says, and he was taken with their energy and personality.

"We're trying to capture that essence in a digital form on the Internet," he explains.

To accomplish the task, Farbstein's team collaborated with the band and then spent about 90 days building the site. The finished product will feature not just chats and regular Chicks updates, but samples of songs from "Fly" and ways for fans to vote for favorite tunes, too.

"I'm sure we'll be working up until the last minute," Farbstein says. "It's going to be a lot of fun -- just like the girls."