One of the rawest, realest, most talented… I could go on and on, but it’s incredible to finally see her getting paid her due. A CMA winner, an ACM winner, nominated for multiple Grammys, the accolades are well deserved. And I’m sure there are more to come.
But it wasn’t always quite like that…
In a recent interview with Radio.com’s Coop, Ashley was asked about the worst venue she has ever played at, and as someone who cut their teeth playing shithole bars and clubs (AKA the right way to do it), she had more than a few she could name.
“We can actually have a conversation about my top five… well, one of the best fights I ever saw was in a bar in Loretta, KY called the Cozy Corner.”
But one place stood above the rest…
“If you’re talking about THE WORST place I’ve ever made music in, I’m not gonna tell you the name of the bar just in case that delightful little shoot-n-stab is still open, I don’t want to deter anybody from ever going to it.
But it was in the great state of Arkansas and it had this name that suggested to me they probably serve hot dogs. It’s like a cool sports bar; I had booked it sight unseen. So, I grabbed two friends and was like, ‘listen, I will buy your dinner which is probably hot dogs and beer, if you’ll go with me and help me carry all my stuff.'”
Gotta hit the Yelp Ashley, gotta hit the Yelp… I ain’t going anywhere unless I check out the menu first.
“We get there, you go under this overpass, and then it’s super shady. I see one orange lit Miller Lite neon sign… everything else is boarded from the inside. The door doesn’t have a handle, it just says ‘knock’ on a piece of duct tape on the door.”
To be honest, this place sounds amazing…
“So I knocked and a very nice gentleman named Dwayne opened the door and asked me, ‘Are you the entertainment?’ So, I go in. These are very, very nice people but I quickly realize what I’ve walked into. I start loading my stuff to the stage, and the stage is covered in like, boot carpet and right past the DJ booth there is a barber’s chair leaned back and I thought, ‘that’s strange.’ Not nearly as strange as the mirrors on the back wall of the stage or the pole in the center.
I have accidentally booked myself at an illegal, it’s a legal bar, but it’s an illegal exotic dance area. I was terrified for my life the entire time, but it turns out they were really wonderful people and the burgers were fairly good.
The shot glasses weren’t of a shape that I would care to use again, but this is craziest thing that’s ever happened to me…I did a 4-hour show there.”
Oh man, four hours at a hole in the wall, biker bar strip club with what I can only assume are penis-shaped shot glasses?
But here’s the thing… she’s one of the realest in the game BECAUSE she’s played places like that. You think half these folks getting record deals because they blew up on TikTok have ever stepped foot in a bar like that? Hell, half of them have never played a live show anywhere.
You can’t fake authenticity folks, you gotta earn it. And for Ashley, that means playing hilariously awesome, borderline terrifying, hole in the wall, illegal strip clubs in Arkansas.
Ashley recently debuted a new song at the Grand Ole Opry called “Whiskey & Country Music,” and let’s just say I hope this one makes it on Ashley McBryde album number three.