Ashley Cooke Lights Up Chicago’s Joe’s On Weed St. With Electrifying Headlining Debut

As part of her Shot In The Dark Tour, this performance drew one of the up-and-coming star’s biggest audiences to date.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

October 16, 2023


11:48 am

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Ashley Cooke; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen

Ashley Cooke experienced a milestone moment on Thursday, Oct. 12 when she made her debut on the ACM award-winning stage at Chicago’s Joe’s On Weed St. as part of her first-ever headlining tour. 

Named after her just-released debut album, Shot in the Dark, the 24-date trek kicked off in Panama City, FL on August 23 and has continued to bring Cooke’s unstoppable talent to major cities around the country including New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Nashville and more. 

Just a few minutes after the clock struck 9pm in the Windy City, the rising female star’s powerhouse vocals were booming through the speakers, letting the audience know what they were “Getting Into,” as she sang on the opening tune. The nearly 90-minute set continued with Cooke showcasing a slew of songs off her full-length project, including “Moving on with Grace,” “Running Back” and the title track of the album and the tour, “Shot in the Dark.”

“This is absolutely insane, thank you guys so much for showing up and packing Joe’s on Weed St. I mean, what the hell,” Cooke yelled to the crowd with true gratitude in her voice. “For you guys all to show up and be here truly means the world.”

Ashley Cooke; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen
Ashley Cooke; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen

Prior to taking the stage, Cooke admitted to Country Now that one of her favorite moments during her most recent stint of shows has been feeling surprised when her fans connect with not just her hits, but also some deep cuts in her collection. This includes “I Almost Do,” which has now become a staple in her setlist. 

“There’s one song called ‘I Almost Do’ on my album that I wouldn’t even say it’s a deep cut now because people know it, but back when I put the album out we weren’t pushing it, it wasn’t a focus track, it wasn’t anything like that. It wasn’t viral online or anything. So I was really shocked when we played a couple of these shows and people screamed the words back. I was genuinely, like physically caught back. I was like what the hell is going on? My whole team was like ‘whoa, that’s so sick. They know that song.’ But now it’s fun because we have it in the set permanently.”

This night was no different because with each song, fans made every effort to sing the lyrics right back to Cooke, so much so that at times, the voices of the crowd were so loud and full of vigor, they nearly overpowered the songstress. 

Alongside these tracks, Cooke’s album also features a handful of duets with fellow country stars including Brett Young on “Never Til Now,” Jackson Dean on “What Are You On Fire About,” Nate Smith on “See You Around,” and Colbie Caillat on “Mean Girl.” While these artists weren’t on hand to join Cooke in the stunning duets, she was able to get a bit of help from rising singer/songwriter Vincent Mason, who undoubtedly gained a few new fans after his opening set in Chicago. 

Together, Cooke and Mason commanded the stage with their delivery of “See You Around” as they embraced the roles of a couple who finds themselves feeling a bit hazy in their post-breakup state. 

Ashley Cooke, Vincent Mason; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen
Ashley Cooke, Vincent Mason; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen

Then it was time for Ashley Cooke to take a break from playing tracks within her catalog and instead offer a glimpse into her days of performing Nashville’s strip of iconic bars on Broadway. She took this opportunity to play a medley of covers that are well-known among country music lovers, including Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman,” Shania Twain’s “Any Man Of Mine,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.”

Additionally, after taking a poll on Instagram and asking fans which cover they wanted to be added into the setlist for the night, she put her female country star flare on Morgan Wallen’s “Chasin’ You.”

Cooke finished off the show with a round of fan favorites off her debut album including “It’s Been A Year,” “Dirt On ‘Em,” “Back In The Saddle,” and her very first gold record, “Never Til Now.”

Ashley Cooke; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen
Ashley Cooke; Photo by Hayley Gjertsen

The midwestern bar/music venue opened Cooke with open arms, showing her nothing but love and excitement throughout the evening. Cooke not only delivered each song of the 16-track setlist with crisp vocals and passion-fueled energy, but she also took every opportunity to interact with her fans. She threw back a Jack Daniels shot from a fan in the front row, snapped selfies with those eagerly holding their phones out and even took a few extra moments after the show to sign merch and connect with her loyal listeners. 

When it came time for the Wisconsin-born singer to officially wrap up her set, she paused to take in all the dreams, hopes and aspirations that she saw coming to life, and gave thanks to everyone who showed up for one of her most packed-out shows yet. 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here” she said before finishing out the final chorus of her last song of the night, “Your Place.”

Overall, it’s safe to say that Cooke once again achieved her goal of leaving the audience feeling as though they got to know her a bit better by the end of the concert. That sentiment stacked on top of the entertaining and pleasing listening experience made for an unforgettable show.

“I hope they can just feel like they got to know me better. I hope that they can feel like they were a part of something really cool because this is also like ground level. This is like ground-level fan base, it’s the very first headline tour and I hope that people can…in a couple years be like, ‘I was at that one show, the first show you played in Chicago.’ And I want them to feel like a part of something really cool. That’s at least for this first tour, my goal for everybody is just gonna be a part of something ground-level.”

For the remaining dates of her Shot in the Dark Tour, Ashley Cooke will bring her unforgettable show to Nashville, TN, Athens, GA, Birmingham, AL, Columbus, OH and more before wrapping things up in Rome, GA on November 10.

In between those dates, she will also continue performing in her opening slot on Luke Bryan’s Country On Tour.

Ashley Cooke will then kick off 2024 with a bang as she joins Jordan Davis on the road in support of his just-announced Damn Good Time World Tour. This upcoming trek will include shows in Copenhagen, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and the UK before returning to the U.S. in the spring. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.