By George Nostrand | Correspondent.
It’s been a while since Aaron Lewis grew up on an old dirt road, in a town you wouldn’t know. Of course, folk around here might just know it, since Lewis’ hometown was Springfield, Vermont.
Born right here in Rutland, Lewis has travelled far – from L.A. to Nashville – but his roots trace back to Vermont, and it is here he will be performing Friday night at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland.
It’s also been a while since the band Lewis fronts, Staind, lit up the charts with a series of angst-ridden singles. Along with bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, Staind rolled the 90s alternative rock sound into the new millennium. With hits like “Outside,” “So Far Away,” and “It’s Been a While,” Staind was a band whose sound was hard enough to rock, but not too heavy for radio. The band topped the charts with five songs, and sold millions of copies of their seven albums.
Lastly, it’s been a while, but not that long, since Lewis swapped his low growl for a southern twang. And while some may question his motivation, (and his New England “southern accent”), he keeps company with some of the biggest names in country – old and new. He’s no longer on the outside.
In 2011, when Lewis stepped away from his introspective rocker persona, he picked up a new country persona – one that is as American as apple pie. In his best selling anthem, “Country Boy,” Lewis makes it clear that he’s a gun-totin’, truck-drivin’, flag wavin’, troop-supportin’, red, white and blue country boy. He collaborated with George Jones, Chris Young and Charlie Daniels on the song, and a corresponding video was nominated for several awards.
The follow up to his EP was a full-length album, “On the Road,” released in 2012. It has been a big success for Lewis and propelling him further into the country spotlight and onto the stage with even more big names in country. The album contains new material, a couple of songs from the EP, and the song, “Granddaddy’s Gun,” that was previously recorded by Rhett Akins.
Lewis regularly plays a number of charity gigs, in particular for the troops. He’s played in Kuwait, and this spring joined Dolly Parton, Zac Brown Band and others in concert for a veterans’ fundraiser, Boots Campaign. He also started his own, “It Takes a Community Foundation,” to help revive rural towns in New England.
In response to the big question as to why Aaron Lewis switched directions musically, from hard rock to pop country, Lewis reflects back to growing up and hearing his grandfather playing country music all the time.
“It was the sound track to my childhood,” he says, adding that, “I write songs on acoustic guitar, and when you do that you can put any kind of ‘frosting’ you want on it. I chose country frosting.”
Aaron Lewis will be performing Friday, June 12 at The Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., Rutland, at 8 p.m. As of this writing tickets are close to sold out. Call 775-0903 or visit paramountvi.org for tickets and information.