CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Here's what you do when a country star like Jason Aldean calls asking if you want to join his tour.
You don't think about projects at hand, other tours in the works or even the time away from home.
"You just kind of say yes, no question about it," Thomas Rhett says.
Six weeks into Aldean's 2013 Night Train Tour, Rhett is having a good time, performing in front of crowds as large as 65,000, which he saw last weekend in Georgia.
He gets to play for 20 minutes, and he makes the most of it.
"I soak it up," Rhett said.
Tonight, he'll do it again, when Aldean's tour makes a stop at the Civic Center.
Rhett might not have been playing on any stage, let alone with Aldean, if he had stuck to an earlier resolve. His real full name is Thomas Rhett Akins Jr., and he grew up with music, particularly that of his musician dad, Rhett Akins, who had three Top 20 hits in the 1990s before his career took a tumble.
"You watch your dad get into a business that fails, and you don't want to do the same thing," Rhett said. He tried, really tried, not to go into music, even studying kinesiology in college for a while.
Sometimes a calling is a calling.
Rhett couldn't help but write music and decided at one point he would be a songwriter.
"It's what got me my start, and it allowed me to write with bigger songwriters," he said. "And people started wanting to write with me."
And musicians started wanting to perform his material - including Aldean, who selected Rhett's song, "I Ain't Ready to Quit," for his "My Kinda Party" album in 2011.
Rhett started performing again when he "got the bug for telling stories and being in front of people."
"I started putting a band together and doing shows," he said. Next thing he knew, Big Machine Label Group was signing him up for a record deal.
His debut album includes a range of influences that include country, rock and even hip-hop, and a song Rhett says is his all-time favorite, although not everyone is a fan.