Four years ago, the Dixie Chicks decided to take a break from making music. Two of the three members became restless, however, and formed a duo as a side project. They have now released a debut album.
Sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison decided to form Court Yard Hounds after Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines extended the two-year hiatus the group had agreed on in 2007. Emily had a collection of songs she wrote while going through a divorce from singer-songwriter Chris Robison in 2008. She planned to convince other artists to record the tracks until Martie insisted Emily sing them herself.
Court Yard Hounds returned to their early musical roots on many of the songs. Most of the tracks lean toward folk, including this duet the duo recorded with fellow Texan Jakob Dylan, "See You In The Spring."
Court Yard Hounds took their name from the novel "City of Thieves." The album was recorded at Martie's home studio in Austin, Texas. Although Emily and Martie say a new Dixie Chicks album will come in the not-too-distant future, they will also put out another Court Yard Hounds collection.
Emily admits it took some time to adjust to being a lead singer. She says, "It can be intimidating when you sing with someone with the power that Natalie has. Martie and I have always been harmony singers, so you take your place in the mix. It was a huge learning curve for both of us."
The duo made its first public appearance at the recent South By Southwest Music Festival in Texas. Next month, Emily and Martie will reunite with Natalie Maines to perform as the Dixie Chicks. They're scheduled to play eight U.S. stadium shows with the Eagles. Court Yard Hounds will stay on the road, appearing at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 18 and in 13 cities on Sarah McLachlan's upcoming Lilith Fair tour.
The first single, "The Coast," from Court Yard Hounds' debut album was inspired by a popular vacation spot, the Gulf Coast in South Texas.