NATALIE MAINES, DEER VALLEY, Tuesday, July 30, 7 p.m., $40 lawn/$65-$75-$85 reserved
By the time the Dixie Chicks' incredible hot streak of hit songs and sold-out tours lost steam after country radio flipped out over Natalie Maines' anti-war rant about being embarrassed the then-president was from Texas, the band had grown into such a colossus that it was easy to forget what made the Chicks popular in the first place--solid musicianship, a knack for poppy hooks, and Maines' incredible lead voice. After taking a long break from recording, and with the Chicks on hiatus except for rare festival appearances, Maines is finally stepping back into the spotlight with her first solo album, Mother. The album is named for a Pink Floyd cover she does on the album--just one indication that this is NOT a Dixie Chicks album. Instead, she heads into folk-rock territory on songs co-written with her co-producer, Ben Harper, on both originals and covers of songs by The Jayhawks, Patti Griffin, Jeff Buckley and Eddie Vedder. It's good stuff, and her live show should be one of the best of the summer. Mary Beth Maziarz opens the show.