Rising country star Ashley McBryde to headline show at Lycoming County Fair

HUGHESVILLE — For country musician Ashley McBryde, the last few years have been a little bit of a whirlwind — but she likes it that way.

The Arkansas native, who first began writing songs at the young age of 12, has been out on the road touring with some of the biggest names in the genre, like Luke Combs, Eric Church, the Brothers Osborne and Chris Stapleton. Even more impressive, last year’s debut of her first full-length record, “Girl Going Nowhere,” earned her a Grammy nomination for Country Album of the Year, and has been highly praised from critics all over the nation, including those at Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, Paste, Esquire and the New York Times. Not to mention, she was named the New Female Vocalist of the Year by the Academy of Country Music earlier in 2019.

The crazy thing is, McBryde is really just getting started. With all of this happening at such an early stage in the game, the high trajectory of McBryde’s career means that very soon she will likely be one of the biggest names in all of country music. For her fans, that means that right now is the perfect time to see her perform live — the tickets are cheaper and the venues are much more intimate than they will be in the future.

Luckily for those in the area, McBryde is set to perform as the headlining act for the Lycoming County Fair’s Country Music Festival on Friday night. The packed show, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m., will see several acts play through the evening, including students of the Uptown Music Collective, Allie Colleen, Honey County and Kelleigh Bannen. McBryde is scheduled to take the stage at 9:40 p.m.

“The last two years have been insane and moving really fast,” McBryde said. “This year, I feel like we are a little more prepared; we have our feet under us a little better. Everything is still blowing our minds, though.”

Her stops in the Northeast have been few and far between, but McBryde said that every time she has performed above the Mason-Dixon Line the crowd responses have been “insane.”

“To get up this direction and see so many people already there at the beginning of the night has been a really cool thing,” she said.

McBryde is especially excited to be playing at the Lycoming County Fair, because it allows her to headline an event, as opposed to opening the show. She feels that allows her a lot more freedom on stage.

“Anytime we get to headline, we get to do a full show instead of a cross-section of maybe the most exciting part of the show,” McBryde said. “That gives us a chance to really stretch our legs and entertain. It also lets us interact with people, instead of just doing a few songs for them.”

The musician is also excited for Friday night’s show because playing fair gigs allows her to introduce herself to people that may not have heard of her yet. She said that those shows usually include three types of people — those who came to see her play; those who were brought to the show by a friend; and those who hear her singing while walking around the fair.

“It gives you a chance to entertain your die-hard fans that were going to be there anyway, and it also gives you a chance to play for people who might not have been able to hear you otherwise,” she said.

Just being back in Pennsylvania is also a thrill for McBryde, who said that her “favorite town in the world” is located in the state. That town is Jim Thorpe, where she stayed after opening up a show for the Brothers Osborne not too long ago.

“It was just the most beautiful town in the world,” she said. “I love it there.”

Many of McBryde’s songs that will be played on Friday evening will come from her Grammy-nominated “Girl Going Nowhere” album. She said that, while she knew the record was special after making it, the success that it has seen has far exceeded her wildest dreams.

“We thought we had done a good job of taking a snapshot of where we were as a band,” McBryde said. “But then it resonated with people on a level that you always hope for, but we didn’t expect.”

Area fans will also be lucky enough to hear some tracks from McBryde’s forthcoming album, which she just finished recording. And even though she doesn’t often play covers, she did mention that there might be a famous pop song thrown into her set as well.

“It is always nice to watch a country band that is a little bit on the rock edge do a Michael Jackson song,” she said. “I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, and I think once people figure out what song that is — it doesn’t take long, just a few measures — they say ‘is a country band really about to do that?’ Yes, they are.”

For more information on the Country Music Festival and other events at the Lycoming County Fair, visit lycomingfair.net.

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