Review + Photos by L Paul Mann
March 31, 2016 | Santa Ynez, CA – Aaron Lewis, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the post-grunge rock group Staind, brought his Country music solo project band, to a sold out crowd at the Samala showroom. The feisty and opinionated song writer began his set with a patriotic call to the audience to stand up and recite the pledge of allegiance towards the giant American flag that he used as a backdrop to his stage. Fortunately he kept his conservative political comments to a minimum and, instead, let his song lyrics do the talking. In fact, in one of his songs, the refrain says, “I let my songs do the talking”.
The 43 year old singer grew up a classic American mutt in rural Massachusetts, with a Jewish mom and Catholic father of varying nationalities. The brilliant songwriter has always taken a page from his life experiences when creating his music. His former hit songs with Staind dripped with a young adults’ angst and anger, dealing with themes of depression and disillusionment. But his solo material, which also delves deeply into a working man’s angst, is much more upbeat in expressing his pride in his working class roots.
Lewis had the crowd in his pocket from the moment he walked onstage. A cheer went up in response to his recital of the pledge of allegiance from the crowd that was fully standing with hats off and hands across their hearts.
Lewis’ first song of the evening, “Country Boy,” off his 2011 release “Town Line” was a crowd favorite of the night being welcomed with numerous shout outs throughout the song. Then Lewis and his band took the euphoric crowd on a winding country journey for the first part of the show, including his new classic song “Northern Redneck.” It is obvious that Lewis new music in the Country vein is closest to his heart. But when he threw in some reworked songs by Staind, the crowd roared their approval. The transition from rock to country music genres is a giant leap to make but Lewis has certainly done it, keeping all his life experiences intact. There were plenty of Staind fans in the crowd hoping to hear their favorite songs and they got their wish later in the night. But it was the new material that made the biggest impression on the majority of the crowd. There is no doubt that Aaron Lewis is a master song writer, no matter what musical genre he picks to deliver his message.
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