Although he had a sour opinion of a musical vocation, Rhett has many fond memories of time spent on the road with his dad, Rhett Akins, including attending Reba McEntire's Halloween parties, getting homework help from Blake Shelton and playing drums during the encore at his dad's shows. - Photo courtesy of Valory Music Co.

Thomas Rhett at The Rocky-Tonk

Thomas Rhett swore he'd never play music professionally, until he did. The son of singer and songwriter Rhett Akins, Rhett witnessed the ins and outs of the music biz first-hand and, for many years, was decidedly against following in his father's footsteps.

In school at David Lipscomb University, Rhett studied business, kinesiology, anatomy and media — anything that wasn't music. Then it happened, he caved.

"I guess the reason I kept changing my mind was that I was trying to ignore my true calling, music," Rhett says in an email.

In junior high, Rhett was part of a punk-rock band, the High Heeled Flip Flops, and in college, he and some friends played fraternity parties at Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee and the University of Georgia. In 2011, his dad convinced him to open at a music-industry showcase.

"Afterwards, I was approached with a publishing deal from EMI Music," he says. "From there, it all happened pretty fast. I started writing, and soon after, I was signing a record deal."

Less than a year later, Rhett's song "I Ain't Ready To Quit" appeared on Jason Aldean's 2010 double-platinum project "My Kinda Party."

Now, the rising country star is signed with Valory Music Co., under the umbrella of the Big Machine Label Group, and is making music and turning heads.

He'll play at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 29, at The Rocky-Tonk Saloon & Grill, 333 E. Main St., Medford.

Rhett adds "urban" beats to his country music to attract a new generation of country music fans. He's been known to mix AC/DC chants, Coolio hip-hop phrasing, Little Feat rhythms and burning slide guitar with redneck lyrics, Southern drawl, Robert Johnson blues and Appalachian-style harmonica.

"It's as if Roger Miller had been reincarnated and gone on a songwriting retreat in the hood," reads Rhett's news release.

"I use a lot of beats from the hip-hop and pop music that I grew up on," Rhett says. "I even incorporate some of those old songs into intros in my sets. People my age grew up listening to it all — country, hip-hop and rock. I think that is what this generation is looking to hear."

Tickets to Rhett's show at The Rocky-Tonk cost $22 in advance and $24 at the door. Seattle's Aces Up band will open the show with its original blue-collar, boot-stompin' country. Doors open at 5 p.m. Call 541-973-2887.

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