Ashley McBryde Shares an Acoustic Performance of ‘Gospel Night at the Strip Club’ and the Story Behind the Song

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage via Getty Images)

Ashley McBryde’s recent collaborative concept album Lindeville is full of songs about a fictional small town. Most of these tracks are light-hearted and a little tongue-in-cheek. So, when many fans saw the title “Gospel Night at the Strip Club” on the tracklist, they may have expected more of the same. That’s not the case, though. “Gospel Night” was one of the deepest and most surprising cuts on the record.

In the album version, Benjy Davis handles the lead vocals. His gruff and gravelly delivery gives the air of a weathered and road-weary musician leading a gospel service at the local strip joint. Earlier today, Ashley McBryde released an acoustic rendition of the song from the Lindeville stage.

Her vocal delivery changes the vibe of the song. However, the story at the heart of the lyrics is unchanged. At the same time, watching McBryde play the song solo intensifies the song’s impact. At times, it looks like she’s fighting to keep her emotions in check. It’s a killer performance of a great song. Check it out below.

Ashley McBryde on the Origin of “Gospel Night at the Strip Club”

Before getting into the performance, Ashley McBryde shared the story of a night early in her career that inspired the song. “I used to play a bar in North Little Rock called Reno’s. Once a month, I played 10-2 or 10-1, just depending on how many people were in the bar at the time,” she recalled. One night, she was sitting in Reno’s waiting to go on when a man approached her.

McBryde recalled that he was wearing a white shirt and white cargo pants and looked like he had just gotten off of work. “About 20 til 10, he comes up and says, ‘What time do you start, honey?’ and I said ‘about 20 minutes.’ And he pulled a 100 dollar bill and says, ‘How about this to start right now?’ I went to the stage.”

She took her tip jar, put it on the stage, and started her set. Throughout the night, the guy in white kept coming up and throwing money in the tip jar. Then, when she took a break, the man bought the whole bar a round of Fireball. When she asked him his name so she could tell the folks who to thank, he replied, “It doesn’t come from me. It comes from the Lord.” Ashley McBryde couldn’t resist making a joke. “Congratulations everybody, Jesus just bought you a round of Fireball.”

Then, the man told her that she was an accidental preacher, chosen by God. Before she finished her set, he left and she never saw him again.

He Filled the Tip Jar, Then He Disappeared

Looking back on the night this happened, Ashley McBryde said, “This is at a time, remember, where I’m driving everywhere in my truck which is not a new truck. I’m playing for tips, and for whatever they’ll pay me an hour and free food.” These were incredibly hard times for her. “Literally, this is a choice between when to buy gas and when to buy food. I’m crashing on bartenders’ couches and with people that I meet at the bar. This is where I am – happily – this is where I am,” she recalled. “That guy put fifteen 100 dollar bills in the tip jar. It took care of every worry I had for more than a month.”

Knowing this story makes “Gospel Night at the Strip Club” hit a little harder.