In April, Thomas Rhett will fulfill a dream he's had since he was 19 years old: joining Kenny Chesney on tour. Along with Old Dominion and Brandon Lay, Rhett will hit the road for Chesney's Trip Around the Sun Tour, which kicks off on April 21 in Tampa, Fla.

"Jason Aldean's done it, Eric Church has done it, Miranda Lambert has done it -- anybody who's somebody has done that tour," Rhett explained to the Boot and other media outlets at a recent press conference. "There's a reason for that.

"Kenny has perfected the art of keeping 70,000 people entertained for two hours," Rhett adds. "It really is a terrifying thing to embark on. Last year, [opening for Chesney] at the Gillette [Stadium concert] was the first time I'd ever done two nights in a row at a stadium, first of all, and second of all, [it was my first time] playing in the dark."

While Rhett had played stadiums before, it had always been earlier in the day, when the venues were only half-full and the stakes were lower.

"I learned so much, even in those two days, about how Kenny connects to the person sitting in the front row and also to the person sitting in the nosebleeds," Rhett says of the experience of opening for Chesney in 2017. "That's a very hard thing to do. So I'm excited to get out there and do our set, obviously, but also to just learn from Kenny."

Rhett has good reason for wanting to sit at the feet of the master: April 2018 will also mark the kickoff of his Life Changes Tour, the country artist's second run of headlining tour stops. Rhett plans to bring Brett Young, Carly Pearce, Russell Dickerson, Midland and Jillian Jacqueline along for various portions of the tour.

"I look back on my first tours, and all of them -- Toby Keith, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan -- all these were people who took a chance on me when I barely had a Top 30 hit," he recalls. "That's not what I'm doing with Brett Young -- he's super established -- but I love, in the opening slot, to give a chance to people who've maybe never played an arena before."

When picking his opening acts, Rhett says he "love[s] bringing out people who I feel like I would be really good friends with, first of all. And second of all, I'm really digging their music."

"[All my openers] are really great people who I think are about to start really thriving," Rhett notes, "and I hope to be a platform for them to play in front of my fans and gain some new fans of their own."

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