Josh ThompsonJosh Thompson is proud of his "working-class" heritage, and his first two songs to connect with country fans, 'Beer on the Table' and 'Way Out Here,' both reflect the "gritty realities of blue-collar life" of which he's so proud. Josh, who grew up in Cedarburg, Wisc. (pop. 11,000), worked in his family's concrete business from an early age.

"I started when I was 12," Josh tells The Boot. "I was making a dollar an hour ... cheap labor. I poured concrete for pretty much my whole life up until November 2008. I picked up a guitar when I was 21 and really had no aspirations of moving to Nashville at all, but I wrote my first song six months later, and it just kind of became ingrained in me ... writing songs and the creative process. I started to sing them, and four years later I moved to Nashville."

Before that life-changing move to Music City, Josh took a leap of faith when he decided to take a Wilderness Guide course which required him to spend nine months in the woods of Wisconsin living entirely off the land, building his own hut, hunting for food and making his own clothes.

"It's a course they put on every year in the National Forest," he explains. "It's 13 of us split up in separate camps, and I had six people on my side of the lake and seven people on the other. You get out there, and they pretty much go over what will kill you, what will keep you alive, and how to make it during the different seasons. They pretty much give you a chance to use those skills on a daily basis."

Josh says the experience taught him lessons he might never have realized otherwise. "Once you get yourself out of your normal, familiar environment and put into a situation where you kind of have to relearn things, you learn things about yourself that you didn't know before. The best thing about that whole thing was coming into contact with myself, and learning who I was and the ability to make it through situations that are not necessarily the most comfortable. The main thing was that I could adapt to an extremely unfamiliar environment. I think that's helped a lot with moving to Nashville and not knowing anybody and kind of trying to make my way through this town."

Not surprisingly, Josh soon had a beer (or six) on the table once the course was completed. "I remember the first time we went out [after I got back]. That was a six-day hangover. [Laughs] That was one of those I-swear-I'm-never-drinking-again kind of nights."

Josh has joined Eric Church on the 32-date Jagermeister Country tour. His album, 'Way Out Here' is set for release on Feb. 23.