When fans go to an Ashley McBryde show, they come to hear authentic country music, but they stay for the sharp Arkansas wit, dry sarcasm and other random thoughts she shares between songs.
The first few words out of her mouth when CMT.com connected with McBryde over the phone from Akron, Ohio on Wednesday (Sept. 26) were about a hilarious idea for a new mug.
“I’m doing a show up here with Abby Anderson before I head back to Nashville,” McBryde said. “What if I found a coffee mug that says, ‘[Expletive] you. I’m in Akron.’”
McBryde was calling from a one-off performance from her first headlining tour as a signed artist, the Girl Going Nowhere tour. So far, McBryde has enjoyed a series of sold-out concerts with loyal fans who traveled to multiple cities on the schedule to see her perform live on her first international run.
During our 15-minute catch-up, McBryde shared she got her gift of gab from her love of improv, her theater background and from studying entertainers she watched at bluegrass festivals growing up. American icons Carol Burnett and Dolly Parton are also among her top heroes with Parton’s Heartsongs: Live from Home being among her favorite live albums for its onstage banter.
“She went back [to Dollywood] to do this concert, and it’s amazing,” she said. “Alison Krauss, Suzanne Cox and Rhonda Vincent are the backup singers. Her banter between songs was just about whatever was on her brain right then.
“The key to improv is never saying no,” McBryde added. “I think that has helped not only with what to say between songs because you say whatever comes to your brain, it also helps with things like when my microphone [goes out].”
Seeing young female fans in the audience singing her songs is what McBryde adores most right now.
“When we were in Mountain Home the other day, the whole front of the stage was nothing but little girls,” McBryde recalled. “They probably ranged from five years old to 12, and they were all standing there with their elbows on the stage.
“I do that stupid thing on Instagram where instead of showing how cool it is to be a country superstar, I hide little plastic animals everywhere I go because I think that’s funny. I’m sitting there playing a song, and it’s the acoustic portion of the show, and I look down, and this little girl pulls out a little plastic tiger and put it onstage with me. That is really cool. Of course, our demographic is older folks and folks who buy music. But these girls — I had a little girl tell me at a merch table one night that she wanted to be a girl going nowhere. We’ve taken something that’s started out as a negative thing, and now it’s a super positive thing.”
McBryde brings that positivity and other stories live to Nashville’s Marathon Music Works tonight (Sept. 27). It’s her headlining debut in her adoptive hometown.