‘See the bloke behind the bar,’ he intoned conspiratorially, ‘the biggest feet in Britain. Had to have his shoes specially made and sent to him.’
Looking at the barman the over the assorted pints and shorts nothing of this was glaringly obvious. Did I detect a quiet smugness and was he sending out a message? ‘This may not be the best pub gig in the world, I’ll admit the hours are long and I’ve seen better gantries but you know what…and nothing will take this away from me…I have the biggest feet in the kingdom and you’d better know that I know.‘
The pub in question was a working club in south Wales and this week’s visit by Ashley McBryde had me thinking on some interesting ‘Dive Bars.’ You may remember it was Ashley’s ‘Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,‘ which started us listening to her music. That ‘dive bar’ title doesn’t necessary mean abject in Ashley’s opinion..in fact quite the opposite. I kinda know where’s she’s coming from.
There have been a few bars over the years where, for one reason or another I’ve found myself looking round thinking, ‘against fairly considerable odds, this night has turned out pretty well.’ I’m thinking of a secret watering-hole in Beijing on a cold December night which had no name or sign but opened into one of the more congenial taverns I’ve ever encountered. There was that little pub with the roaring fire in downtown Sheffield where my big pal Steph was finding it hard to work out how we could keep buying rounds and still keep getting change from a tenner! Memorably too a little street bar in the south of France where we waited as the owners strung up a wire across the main street above the traffic so we could all watch their national team progress to the next stage of the World Cup. None was what you’d call a dive bar…but there was always plenty of character.
On this week’s Another Country you can hear about the time Ashley returned to her own dive-bar in Dahlonega, The Crimson Moon which is situated 50 miles or so outside Atlanta, Georgia where one of those magical nights ensued. You’ll also hear her sing the song in question in an exclusive session and conversation which includes her talk of her father’s love for Townes Van Zandt and Don Williams and her own further adventures since we first met. Since our encounter in March in Nashville there’s been a lot of things happening to Ashley and you’ll love her stories of Eric Church, Jimmy Fallon and a very special night in Colorado with Little Big Town.
As well as all of this we’ll have music from Ruston Kelly, Mountain Man, Nicki Bluhm, Pistol Annies and classics from Glen Campbell, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley. We will also play you something brand new from the forthcoming album by Rosanne Cash.
Our very own dive bar starts serving at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening and we’re repeated on Friday evening too. Come on in and sit yourselves down.