The Dixie Chicks made a rare U.S. concert appearance Thursday night as the headlining act at a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation.
Held in a ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the evening doubled as a salute to the record producer Rick Rubin, who oversaw the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy-winning 2006 album “Taking the Long Way” and Thursday received the Lifetime of Harmony Award from the foundation that promotes Transcendental Meditation.
When offers to perform arrive, “usually the answer is no,” said the Dixie Chicks frontwoman, Natalie Maines, during the group’s 30-minute set. But this time they accepted after learning that Rubin – “the man who never allows himself to be honored,” as Maines described him -- would be in attendance.
Once one of country’s biggest live acts, the Dixie Chicks have played only intermittently in the United States since 2006, three years after Maines set off a storm of criticism over remarks she made about President George W. Bush in the run-up to the Iraq war.
Last year the singer released a rock-leaning solo album, while her bandmates Martie Maguire and Emily Robison put out their second record as Court Yard Hounds. (The Dixie Chicks toured Canada in the fall and are scheduled to play a string of European dates next month.)
For Thursday’s Lynch event, which followed a benefit in January at the El Rey where the filmmaker honored Ringo Starr, Maines said she asked Rubin for his requests. His reply, according to Maines? “The good songs from our album.”
Backed by five additional musicians, the trio drew from “Taking the Long Way” for crisp renditions of “The Long Way Around” and “Silent House” and a dreamy “Lullaby.” It revved the tempo for the hard-rocking “Lubbock or Leave It,” then shifted gears for the acoustic dirge “Easy Silence.”
The group closed with “Not Ready to Make Nice,” its impassioned response to the Bush controversy, and if the eight years since then have cooled Maines’ outrage, you couldn’t tell Thursday.
“I’m still mad as hell,” she sang convincingly, a vehement endpoint to an evening otherwise saturated with peace and love.
Other performers at the event -- which drew Russell Simmons, Flea, Vincent Gallo and Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne -- included Damien Rice and Jake Bugg, the young English singer-songwriter who recorded his latest album, “Shangri La,” at Rubin’s studio by that name in Malibu.
A session at Shangri La was among several packages offered in a live auction, along with dinner (and yoga) with Simmons, lunch with Sharon Osbourne at Soho House and a 45-minute car trip with Lynch in a Tesla on Mulholland Drive.