Mark Chesnutt was touring all over his home state of Texas long before he released his debut single, "Too Cold at Home," in 1990 -- and in the more than two decades since, the area he covers on tour has expanded, but not much else has changed.

"I’ve never had any more than two to three weeks at a time off. And that was only because I got sick or lost my voice or something like that," Chesnutt tells The Boot. "I’ve never taken a vacation; I’ve never taken off for a month or two."

Chesnutt recalls that he had no idea how quickly his life was about to change after the release of that first song.

"I was back at home in Beaumont, singing in the club that I played in, and I had gotten the news a few weeks before that there were promoters wanting to book us off the strength of that single. It took off without me having to do any radio stuff; everybody wanted to book us," the singer remembers. "So we somehow leased a bus, and after we finished the last set, that night, the bus was there in the parking lot. We loaded our gear in and kissed our wives and girlfriends goodbye and left for six months."

His schedule's been grueling -- but worth it. Chesnutt has met a lot of incredible people along the way.

"I guess my favorite career moment was being able to meet my heroes," he admits. "When I got a chance to meet and sing and hang out with and become friends with Merle Haggard and George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, that was the best thing, because I actually established a friendship with my hero, George Jones, and with Waylon Jennings.

"Merle kind of kept to himself a lot, but he was friendly. He did invite me out to his house to visit quite a bit," Chesnutt adds. "Getting to hang out and tour with George Strait and those guys, that’s been the best thing; that’s been the biggest reward."

Chesnutt's latest album, Tradition Lives, was released on July 8. The project is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, and a list of all of Chesnutt's upcoming shows is available on his website.

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