His mom lives in Port Washington. He went to high school in Cedarburg. His song “Beer on the Table” is a Top 20 hit. He’s Josh Thompson, and he’s a burgeoning country music star.
Six years ago, Josh Thompson was pouring concrete with his father Nick in the family business in Cedarburg.
Today, he can be seen on CBS.com in a series of videos covering his road tour from Nashville to the Academy of Country Music Awards Show in Las Vegas Sunday, April 18.
He’s not nominated for an award this year, but CBS picks rising stars to feature in its annual Road to the ACM Awards videos. Gloriana and Lady A were featured the last two years.
“It was a big honor to be chosen. It’s been an incredible year,” Thompson, 32, said in a phone interview Monday from Nashville.
In the videos, Thompson talks about his life and clips from his Jagermeister tour with Eric Church are shown.
A year ago, Thompson was signed by Sony Columbia Records in Nashville, and it’s been nonstop since then, he said.
Thompson’s first single “Beer on the Table” hit No. 16 on the Billboard country music charts. The title track of his album “Way Out Here” was released as a single this week and is already in the Top 40.
A CD release party was held Feb. 22 at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.
Thompson will be part of Brad Paisley’s H2O World Tour, a one-year tour that will hit 75 cities in the United States, Canada and Europe and raise money to provide safe, clean water in underdeveloped nations.
That’s a long way from pouring concrete foundations and roads.
A 1997 Cedarburg High School graduate, Thompson started working in his father’s business when he was 12. He continued to work summers while pursuing a degree in natural resources.
“I didn’t start playing the guitar until I was 21,” Thompson said. “I always wanted to learn how to play and sing some songs.
“When I learned a couple of chords, I started to write, and it slowly became a necessity for me to write and express that creative side of me.”
When he went to Nashville in 2005, Thompson got a job pouring concrete.
“You’ve got to have a day job when you live in Nashville,” he said.
He last poured concrete in November 2008.
Sony liked his song “Growing Up is Getting Old,” which was recorded by Jason Michael Carroll for the title track of his album.
“They wanted to hear more songs and asked if I would have a meeting with them,” Thompson said. “I met with them, played some more songs and left. An hour later they called and said, ‘Would you like to sign with us?’”
Lyrics such as “Working hard all week puts beer on the table” and “I blame the cussin’ on my Daddy, good lucks on my Mama, but as for my honky-tonk ways I blame it on Waylon” resonate with hard working, hard-drinking, hard-playing men and women.
“‘Beer on the Table’ was inspired by that whole lifestyle of working hard all week. You take care of your responsibilities and spend the rest on yourself and having a good time,” Thompson said.
“I would describe my music as honest, real simple country.”
The white Ford Econoline van shown in the videos is the same one Thompson’s been driving for three years. It has 175,000 miles on it, 65,000 of them logged last year.
“Last week, I was in a bus for the first time and, hopefully, that will be the theme for the rest of the tour,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he constantly writes songs now.
“I write whenever I get a chance,” he said. “That’s why it’s good to be back in Nashville. I can get together with a friend or two and try to write something cool.”
Thompson spent nine months in the Nicolet National Forest living off the land during a survival class. He took his guitar with him, and that’s when he decided to pursue his dream in Nashville, his mother Barb Bagles said.
Thompson gets back to Wisconsin whenever he can to visit his mother in Port Washington and his sister Nichol in Cedarburg.
His father, who supported his move to Nashville, didn’t get a chance to see his son’s success. He died three years ago. Thompson picked up the shell casings from the 21-gun salute at his father’s funeral and had three of them chrome-plated. He gave one each to his mother and sister and wears the other one around his neck.
More information and music videos are on www.joshthompsonofficial.com.