Ashley Monroe, one-third of the country music group the Pistol Annies, says watching a Ferris wheel light up the night sky is one of her favorite things about the fair.
“There’s something kind of magical about it,” Monroe says.
This Saturday, the singer/songwriter will take in the magic from center stage when she and band mates Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley kick off the entertainment lineup at The Great Frederick Fair.
The concert is the first fair show for the ladies as the Pistol Annies, although Monroe says the trio has played at fairs as a part of Lambert’s performances in the past.
Lambert, who’s married to fellow country singer and “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton, released her fourth solo album, “Four the Record,” in 2011. She’s best known for hits like “White Liar,” “The House That Built Me” and “Heart Like Mine.”
Despite her individual success, Lambert and the rest of the Pistol Annies say the band is in no way a “side project.”
“We have solo albums but we’re still going to do Pistol Annies,” Monroe says. “We are so passionate about this.”
Saturday’s show is part of a string of concerts the Pistol Annies are doing in September, including another fair next weekend in Pomona, Calif.
Then, in November, Monroe says the band will probably start work on their second album, a follow up to “Hell on Heels,” released in 2011.
“This record we’re thinking, ‘Is there going to be pressure? Are we going to lose the magic?’” Monroe says.
It’s a natural concern. “The first record happened so organically,” Monroe says.
Originally from east Tennessee, Monroe, or “Hippie Annie” as her band mates call her, met Lambert eight years ago.
Three years ago, the two were camping in Oklahoma, writing music music that would eventually become songs like “Bad Example” and “Boys from the South,” which both made it onto the debut album.
After realizing the music they’d written wasn’t quite right for either of their solo careers, but not wanting to pitch it elsewhere, Lambert and Monroe decided to start a “girls band.” Just like that.
“We called [Presley] and said, ‘You want to be in a girls band?’” Monroe recalls. “She thought we were crazy.”
A week later, in November 2010, the three were writing music together.
“It was like we had been together forever,” Monroe says. “It’s almost like we accidentally write when we’re together.”
The Pistol Annies hadn’t even been together six months when they were invited to play at the Academy of Country Music’s Girls’ Night Out special on CBS in April 2011. It was the group’s television debut and the first time they’d played with a live band.
“The nerves were ... oh my gosh,” Monroe says. “But once we stepped out there, it just felt amazing. ... We said, ‘I think we can relax now.’”
Now that they’re comfortable, Monroe says the Pistol Annies are looking to reach new audiences with their second record, which she predicts will be out early next year.
Much like their first project, Monroe says music for the second album likely will come together in a natural way. She says she expects the trio will head to the Smoky Mountains and just “play all of [their] songs.”
“We’re really excited about the new music,” Monroe says. “We’re so blessed to have the reaction we’ve had this year. ... I think we’re just wanting to grow in all areas. Just grow and get as many people as we can.”
But for the moment, Monroe, Lambert and Presley plan to enjoy the fair.
“We love fairs,” Monroe says. “You just see all kinds of people and all kinds of food.”
Monroe admits that after a recent performance with Lamber at the Iowa State Fair, the ladies sneaked into the crowd to enjoy some good-old-fashioned fair food.
“We went out and we ate like we never ate before,” she laughs.