An otherwise routine stop on Miranda Lambert’s Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour became something of a family reunion on October 2nd, when Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley joined Lambert in Augusta, Georgia. The country trio, who recorded a pair of acclaimed LPs earlier this decade as the Pistol Annies, returned to the concert stage that night for the first time since the summer of 2013, kicking things off with a surprise version of “Hell on Heels,” the title track from their chart-topping 2011 debut. Before Lambert resumed her own show, the group also sang “Hush Hush,” a boogie-woogie barn-burner from their second album, Annie Up.
Although Monroe is a featured act on Lambert’s fall tour, Presley has not appeared with the two since a planned concert tour was canceled just after the May 2013 release of Annie Up. For two years, though, the Pistol Annies burned brightly. First introduced as a side project for Lambert, the trio made their public debut during the ACM’s Girls Night Out special on CBS in May 2011. All three members sang and contributed songs to the project, and their chemistry — not to mention their triple-stacked harmonies — helped make that summer’s Hell on Heels a hit. By December, they were performing in L.A. with John Fogerty.
Lambert wasn’t the group’s only star. In 2012, Ashley Monroe released the solo album Like a Rose, followed two years later by Presley’s American Middle Class. The growing popularity of all three bandmates helped push the trio’s follow-up record, Annie Up, to Number Two on the country chart in 2013. A planned summer concert tour came to an abrupt halt that summer, though, and rumors of a feud between the trio fueled speculation that they had ended both their personal and professional relationship.
According to Presley, those rumors couldn’t be further from the truth. When the songwriter released American Middle Class late last year, she laughed off the rumors that she and Lambert had had a falling-out surrounding her husband (and producer) Jordan Powell, who is Lambert’s former tour manager.
“That is like the farthest thing,” Presley told Rolling Stone Country. “Everything was planned. Jordan is an amazing businessman; Miranda is an amazing businesswoman. When you get to that level, that stuff doesn’t happen. Because you don’t get to that level if you act like that. His leaving was planned way in advance and they still text, they’re still friends. They still hang out. People just want a story. When the truth is boring….”
Still, Presley was happy to confirm one aspect of the trio’s friendship: that their partying would sometimes lead to backstage brawling.
“Yeah, every night!” she explained with a hearty laugh. “Of course we did, we’re girls! We drank a lot of beer and a lot of liquor. We had many drunken brawls but not one that led to the breakup of our band. It was timing, it was scheduling. Ashley was getting married; we did not have time to do Pistol Annies. You can only stretch yourself so far before you crack. You just have to make a choice.”
Although Monroe’s tenure on Lambert’s tour has come to a close — which, perhaps, was the impetus for the reunion — the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars trek continues on October 8th in Huntsville, Alabama, with special guests RaeLynn, Clare Dunn and Courtney Cole.