Conner Smith may be new to most country music fans, but he certainly isn’t new to country music hitmaker Luke Bryan.

“I grew up with Luke Bryan's nephew Til,” Smith tells Taste of Country during a recent tour stop in Chicago. “Til and I were really good friends growing up. So, I had stories of going fishing with Luke in the eighth grade, or there was this one baseball game where me and Til were playing, and Luke sat on the sidelines and read through my publishing deal contract.”

Smith, who penned his first country song at the age of six and scored a publishing deal at the age of 16, lets out a big laugh.

“I haven't seen him literally since that day.”

That is going to change come summer, when Smith heads out as an opener on Bryan’s Country On Tour.

“He's such a kind dude that loves pouring himself into other artists,” Smith says of Bryan, who is currently in his sixth season serving as a judge on American Idol. “That's something that I really admire about him. And so, you know, getting to go out on the road with him this year and just learn from him is going to be so good.”

Plus, it will be an excuse to hang out with his dear friend Til again.

“Me and my buddies are excited because, you know, I'm going to have Til out there,” says Smith, who recently released his latest single “Creek Will Rise”.

“We're going to have a good time. My god, it will be a memory we will make.”

But first things first, as Smith heads back on his “If I Went to College” Tour on March 30 in Georgia with opener Mackenzie Carpenter.

“I never went to college,” says the 22-year-old with a hint of a sigh. “Instead of going to college, I ended up going and playing college bars and the college circuit.”

College towns have come to house a massive fan base for Smith, as the younger demographic seems to be quite enamored by the Tennessee native’s good looks and smooth sounding voice.

“Going to these towns on this tour is basically my college experience,” he says.

While he says he’s not one to live with regrets, Smith admits that he does still think about the direction his life could have taken.

“Baseball was my first love, and music was my first passion,” he explains. “Music was the thing that I was made to do, and the one thing I always had to do it. And so even while I played baseball, I was right there in center field, writing songs in my head.”

Pictures: See Inside Luke Bryan's Stunning Beach House

Luke Bryan listed his 4,600-square-foot beach house for sale in December 2022. The stunning Florida mansion includes four bedrooms and bathrooms and comes furnished. The master bedroom overlooks 95 feet of water frontage, but if you don't want to descend all four floors to get there, you can absorb the warmth of the private, heated pool. This Santa Rosa Beach property is on sale for $18 million, among the most ever for a country star's house.

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