Sarah McLachlan’s long-dormant Lilith Fair relaunched this week after an 11-year hiatus. But the traveling music festival’s return has been troubled by soft ticket sales, which led to a couple show cancellations and artist withdrawals. The ultimate blow came July 1 as fair co-founder Terry McBride cut 10 more concerts from the original 36-city Lilith itinerary.

The latest cancellations are in addition to previously axed show dates in Phoenix (July 8) and Nashville (August 7). While the tour’s current month has only been lightly touched by the most recent batch of cancellations — the closest affected dates are July 12 in Salt Lake City, UT, and July 23 in Montreal, QC — the August leg of the tour is now almost fully dismantled.

Performances on August 4 in Raleigh, NC, and August 6 in Charlotte, NC have been stricken from the calendar, as have the final six dates of the tour: August 10 in West Palm Beach, FL; August 11 in Tampa, FL; August 12 in Pelham, AL; August 14 in Austin, TX; August 15 in The Woodlands, TX; and August 16 in Dallas, TX.

A venue was never confirmed for the tour’s Austin event, so tickets never saw public onsale in that market. But ticket holders for the other nixed Lilith shows will receive refunds from the original point of purchase.

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The remaining 21 markets on the Lilith itinerary may see lineup changes, as artists from the cancelled dates join the Lilith caravan for other concerts. Revised artist details and performance schedules for the fair are available on its official Web site.

But at the same time, some artists who were scheduled to appear pulled out of the tour entirely following news of the most recent cancellations. In a notice on her official Web site, Kelly Clarkson explained her decision: “With the news of cancelled Lilith dates and my current progress in the studio, we’ve made the decision not to tour this summer. I’m going to miss seeing y’all, but I hope that when you hear what we’ve been working on, you’ll be as excited as I am.”

Speculation about the tour’s August leg had been swirling in the media for some time. The manager for Norah Jones, who had been scheduled to appear on the late-tour concerts, told The Globe and Mail in a June 25 report that all of the musician’s dates had been cancelled. Jones has since scheduled her own performances for the regions that she would have visited as part of the Lilith Tour.

At the time of the June 25 report, McBride told the Toronto publication, “We have canceled nothing at this time. We review our sales on a weekly basis. If we cancel any more, we will announce accordingly.”

But that announcement did not come until late this week.

“We are in the midst of one of the most challenging summer concert seasons with many tours being cancelled outright,” said McBride in the July 1 statement. “Everyone involved with the tour would like to apologize to the fans and artists scheduled to play in these markets, and express appreciation for all the support for the festival’s return. Lilith remains the only tour of its kind, and we are confident that fans will be amazed by what each date has to offer.”

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Lilith launched its 2010 season on June 27 in Calgary, AB, in front of an audience of about 9,000 at the 35,000-capacity McMahon Stadium, according to the Vancouver Sun. Ticket sales for the day-long celebration of female musicians have been just as soft in other cities.

The Vancouver Sun also reported that soft sales forced the festival to move its June 28 show from Northlands Spectrum Racetrack to the parking lot of Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB. Approximately 6,500 tickets were sold for that event.

As it stands now, the 2010 Lilith Tour will end a week early on August 8 at Aaron’s Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA. The next concert is tonight, July 2, at Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA, with another show scheduled tomorrow, July 3, at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, WA.

On Lilith Fair’s official Facebook page, fans voiced their displeasure at the latest batch of cancelled dates.

“Wow, awesome job guys…. Maybe charge less than my first born for tickets next time and you’ll sell some tickets,” one Facebook follower quipped, while another added this analysis: “Maybe book smaller venues next time and don’t be so greedy about ticket prices. Cancelling 10 shows is an indication of very poor management and promotion. Very poor.”

The tour also drew the ire of some fans before it even started, as producer Live Nation tried to improve sagging ticket sales by introducing special discounts and two-for-one ticket offers well after public onsales had started. Early in June, industry resource Pollstar reported on the uproar caused in several Lilith markets when fans discovered similar or better seating options available for much less than they had originally paid.

But unlike other cancelled concerts and tours this summer, Lilith Fair has at least been forthcoming about poor ticket sales being a primary factor. Other tours from ’90s acts like Christina Aguilera and Limp Bizkit were nixed with the artists blaming “prior commitments” (Aguilera) or concerns over venue choice (Fred Durst, from Limp Bizkit,) rather than possibly problematic ticket sales.

Lilith Fair itinerary:
(Dates are subject to change.)

July 2 Ridgefield, WA Sleep Country Amphitheater
July 3 Quincy, WA Gorge Amphitheatre
July 5 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
July 7 Chula Vista, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
July 9 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Events Center
July 10 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
July 13 Englewood, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
July 15 Bonner Springs, KS Capitol Federal Park at Sandstone
July 16 Maryland Heights, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
July 17 Tinley Park, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
July 18 Shakopee, MN Canterbury Park
July 20 Noblesville, IN Verizon Wireless Music Center
July 21 Clarkston, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
July 24 Toronto, ON Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
July 27 Cuyahoga Falls, OH Blossom Music Center
July 28 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
July 30 Mansfield, MA Comcast Center
July 31 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
August 1 Hartford, CT Comcast Theatre
August 3 Columbia, MD Merriweather Post Pavilion
August 8 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood