Ashley McBryde Tells Her Crazy Story of the Worst Venue Ever

Who knew places like this even existed?

Written by Chris Parton
Ashley McBryde Tells Her Crazy Story of the Worst Venue Ever
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 24: Ashley McBryde performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Aerosmith at West Hall at Los Angeles Convention Center on January 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Ashley McBryde has seen a stage or two in her time … and some are better than others. That just comes with the territory, but every now and then an artist stumbles into a situation they didn’t bargain for.

Calling in to’s Coop’s Rockin’ Country Saturday Night for a chat about her new-school murder ballad of a single, “Martha Divine,” the ACM nominee told the story of the worst venue she ever played at. It just happened to be in her home state of Arkansas, and it’s a story she won’t soon forget.

“I’m not gonna tell you the name of the bar just in case that delightful little shoot-n-stab is still open,” she told her host. “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.”

This was early in her career, so the “One Night Standards” hit maker says she called up two friends and promised to buy them dinner if they came to the gig, and helped McBryde carry her gear. But once they arrived, the singer was shocked by what she saw.

“We get there, you go under this overpass, and then it’s super shady,” she explains. “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.”

“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,” she goes on. “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 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.”

McBryde closed her story out saying “The shot glasses weren’t of a shape that I would care to use again,” but it sounds like all’s well that ends well.

Fans can get a musical taste of her knack for colorful storytelling in the new single, “Martha Divine,” and Ashley McBryde went on in the interview to talk about the true-crime story behind it. She’s up for Female Artist of the Year at the upcoming ACM Awards, which air April 18 on CBS.