Thirty-four year-old Ashley McBryde is finally getting her due in the country music world. As she should. This woman has been making outstanding music in Nashville since 2007, writing and playing in dive bars and honkytonks - anywhere to get her music heard.

  Her music is this amazing combination of grit and beauty. To me, if Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson and Trisha Yearwood had a baby, Ashley McBryde would be it.

  "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlongea," the first single from her first studio album, "Girl Going Nowhere," has made tidal waves everywhere. Reaching number seven on the U.S. Country Chart, it's been named to Rolling Stone's "25 Best Songs," The New York Times "54 Best Songs" and N.P.R.'s "35 Favorite Songs of 2018 (So Far)."

  She's had a long road to achieve the musical recognition she rightfully deserves, a journey she's described as one of "guerilla warfare." One of the best things about her is that she doesn't fit the 2018 mold of what a female country star should be. And frankly, I'm happy for it. She's super smart, full of sauce and wit and funny as hell. She's not standing on a pedestal, nor does she seem to want to.

  I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with McBryde before her Country Thunder set to ask her a few questions about where she's been and where's she's going.

You grew up on some serious rock music with mom and dad listening to artists like Van Zandt and The Police. How did you swing into country?

  I actually grew up playing bluegrass and listening to country music, and was really lucky that there was an oldies station - I talk about it in the song "Radioland" - that we could get in the next town over. And I just thought it was just regular rock music; of course, now it's considered oldies. But it was everything. It was The Beatles. It was Springsteen. It was Joplin. It was Hendrix. And so, from a very early age, bluegrass, country and rock were all equal.

What are the two most important things
you want people to know about you?

  Wow. Well, every time I leave a place, I want people to say that my crew is a group of nice people that work really hard and we're easy to work with. You know, I want them to know that all my tattoos have stories. I didn't just randomly spin a wheel and get tattoos. I'm being told now - you know the comments sections and everything - that "that's way too many tattoos for country music." And I think that's hilarious. So, yeah, you can be country and have tattoos.

It's safe to say you're not a girl going nowhere any longer, but it's also safe to say that women in country music are still suffering the effects of
Keith Hill's Saladgate comments...

   Yeah!

And that you've heard a fair number of no's. What's been your toughest rejection,
and what did you learn from it?

  There was a writer in town. I was playing a writer's night that was his. He was opening a publishing company. He came up and stood right next to me as I'm watching this other songwriter and said, "What do you want to be?" And I said, "I want to be a songwriter." He said, "I'm opening a publishing company. I need a girl writer." I said, "OK." He said, "You want to be an artist or you want to be a writer?"
  I said, "I want to be both. I want to be Lucinda Williams." And he looked at me and he goes, "Mmmm, I can't make you into what I need you to be" and passed on the deal. And thank God! Because I didn't have to sacrifice anything about myself to be able to write songs.  
That was a tough one. And it was a writer I really respected. We've made amends since then.