Thomas Rhett is on the rise as he co-headlines tour A happy man

By John Benson


No matter how successful they get, most musicians never forget their first sold-out concert. For Thomas Rhett, that memory took place a few years ago at the Dusty Armadillo.

“I’ve played there at least three times, it’s kind of where I got my start,” said Rhett, calling from Nashville. “When I put ‘It Goes Like This’ out, I started to really see a significant change of people showing up to my shows and wanting autographs. I remember the Dusty Armadillo being one of the first places where we were sold out as a band.

“You don’t forget moments like that. Those are the moments you look back and you’re like, ‘Dang, we’ve come a long way.’”

In a relatively short amount of time, Rhett, son of country artist Rhett Atkins, has enjoyed quite a run watching his debut effort, “It Goes Like This,” yield No. 1 singles (the title track, “Get Me Some of That” and “Make Me Wanna”), as well as radio hits (“Beer with Jesus” and “Something to Do with My Hands”).

The hit streak continues with Rhett’s recently released follow-up effort “Tangled Up,” which boasts No. 1 tunes “Crash and Burn” and “Die a Happy Man.”

“The first album took so long to actually put out, with the second album I felt like it was finally a chance to start from a clean slate and really find my voice,” Rhett said. “I felt like I had to separate myself from the pack.

“Putting an album out like ‘Tangled Up’ definitely does that. For me, I’m just trying to find my own way in this thing and trying to make music that makes me happy and that makes people happy as well.”

Rhett points to new songs such as “Vacation” and “I Feel Good” as “super left turns.” The former energetic track is already a crowd favorite, while the latter boasts a ’90s hip-hop/R&B vibe.

Fans in the Youngstown area will get a chance to hear the new tunes and more when Rhett, along with co-headliner Brett Eldredge, bring the “CMT On Tour - Suits & Boots Tour” to Covelli Centre on Thursday.

“Brett and I have the same humor and personalities, so putting us on the stage together is nothing short of entertainment,” Rhett said. “CMT had a great idea of putting us on our both first co-headlining tour. Really, it’s the first time we’re seeing our names on the headlining marquee playing arenas.

“This is a big deal for us. It’s seeing where we’re at and what works and hopefully it translates into us doing our own thing in the future. We’re just having a great time.”

As soon as the “Suits & Boots Tour” is over, Rhett plans on hitting the road once again with Jason Aldean. The man just doesn’t stop. It’s no wonder he wrote a song titled “Vacation.” If he can’t go on one, at least every night he can sing about it.

“After next year is over, we won’t have stopped touring in like five years,” Rhett said. “So I definitely need a vacation. That’s where my mind is at.”

Still, Rhett knows he’s young and on the rise, so there is no time like the present to keep the momentum going. The only question remaining is when he’ll be headlining his own solo arena tour.

“I’m really excited about it, but I’ve watched so many people after the last five years go out and do their own headlining tour,” Rhett said. “A lot of them I think don’t realize how huge of a responsibility it is to be a headliner. So I’m fine being patient and waiting for the perfect moment to go out there and take full advantage of that opportunity.”

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