Dixie Chicks/Pete Yorn

Go ahead: Keep holding that grudge against Natalie Maines for exercising her freedom of speech. We don't care if you miss the finest and most genuinely musical live act in contemporary country music (even if the best stylistic reference for Taking the Long Way, their latest album, is the California country rock of 30 years ago). Because whether you love 'em, hate 'em or don't give a damn, the fact remains that these hometown girls are consummate entertainers who continue to invest the corn 'n' cheese-infected genre of country with sophistication, urbanity, smarts, sass and a sense of fun as well as a truly American independence and defiance. With a stage show as big as any arena to match the progressive spirit of their music, this promises to be as gratifying an experience as getting November's election results. Pete Yorn opens with a set of singer-songwriter rocking that feels like he could be Tom Petty's kid brother.

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