Ashley McBryde, like the stellar country star that she is, sings about whiskey and bars even though she doesn't partake anymore. She's been sober for two years this month.

That didn't stop her from mentioning booze in all but two of the 11 tunes on last year's "The Devil I Know."

"I've done enough of it that I can sing about it for the next 100 years," said McBryde, who will perform Friday at the Winstock country fest in Winsted, Minn. "Songs like 'Whiskey and Country Music' still ring true. Nothing takes the edge off like whiskey and country music. Just because I don't doesn't mean I didn't.

"Eric Church called me 'a whiskey-drinking bad ass' when I first popped on the scene and that really stuck. Part of being a bad ass is knowing when to set it down. When it got to the point where I knew that I had to choose between abusing alcohol and my love of a song, there was no choice. Nobody's buying a ticket to see you drunk onstage. But I'm not mad at anybody who drinks. For me, I met my quota."

The Grammy-winning Grand Ole Opry member addresses the hard life on a new EP, "Meet the Family." She dropped it the last week in May, a mere eight months after "The Devil I Know" arrived.

There are five different versions of McBryde, each with a different moniker, depicted inside a picture frame on the cover of "Devil" and "Family." Introspective, poised, self-confident, uninhibited, reckless. Which one is she?

"Right now I'm Ashley Damn McBryde, the one in the middle of the album cover. It's been a really fun journey choosing to put these songs together from different points of view, the different parts of ourselves. It has also made me do it with other artists I love: What if I let Blackout Betty make an Eric Church playlist? What if I let Joan of Arkansas make my Miranda Lambert playlist?"

Part singer/songwriter and part rock 'n' roller, McBryde, 40, will rock your face off and break your heart. Raised in tiny Saddle, Ark., she listened to Kris Kristofferson in her formative years but started performing in blues and biker bars in Memphis when she attended nearby Arkansas State University.

In 2007, McBryde headed to Nashville, worked at a Guitar Center in the daytime and gigged wherever she could at night. After country star Church heard her, she landed a contract with Warner Bros. in 2017. She won acclaim including CMA's best new artist in 2019 even though her singles, including "Girl Goin' Nowhere" and "One Night Standards," had modest radio success. Her 2021 duet with Carly Pearce, "Never Wanted to Be That Girl," became McBryde's first No. 1 Nashville hit and led to a Grammy and CMA Awards.

Since she's from a small town, McBryde relates to a festival like Winstock in Winsted, a town of 2,200, that draws nearly 15,000 people.

"The places where I grew up, it's so special when anyone comes to your town," McBryde said last week. "I remember when Gretchen Wilson came to the underserved city I went to college in, I saved all my money to take my friends to this concert. When you play in a less populated area, everyone is there to experience it."

Then she'll return on June 29 to one of the Upper Midwest's bigger hoedowns, Country Fest, in Cadott, Wis., which attracts up to 30,000 per day.

"There are more festivals in Minnesota and Wisconsin than I think in any other two states," she said.

And probably more drinking.

Winstock 2024

Who: Cole Swindell, Jason Aldean, Ashley McBryde, Russell Dickerson, Jon Pardi, others.

When: 4:30 p.m. Fri. and noon Sat.

Where: Winsted, Minn.

Tickets: $180,