Valley Show Girl: A Jam Session in the Forest With Staind Singer Aaron Lewis

Staind. Remember them? I think at one point in our late-’90s lives we were all blasting “Tormented” or “Dysfunction” and relating to the ultra-sensitive alternative rock that was birthed right here in the Valley.

Well, times have changed, and people change. Aaron Lewis, singer of the now-retired Staind has gone on to other things, including switching up musical genres to country. Lewis also puts on an amazing benefit concert once a year for It Takes a Community Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization built on strengthening, enriching and, serving New England’s rural communities. Tickets are pricey, from $59 to $179 based on seating, but hey, it’s going to a good cause. And the audience gets a variety show of talent you won’t see on any other tour.

Travis Marvin was on stage as I walked through the ivy-laced, brick entryway to Pines Theater at Look Park. The vibe was super country. Marvin is a storyteller. In between each song he told us the tale behind it. It was cool looking around at the sold-out show and seeing the mix of cowboy hats and Slipknot T-shirts.

Sweat was dripping down my back as I tried to cool off by sipping on a Sweet Water 420 extra pale ale. I heard a commotion on stage and everyone started storming back to their seats. Aaron Lewis came onstage a little earlier than expected with his country set. I have to be honest: I’m not so much a country fan, so I’m unfamiliar with Lewis’ new endeavor. However, that powerful voice of his — always filled with a suitcase full of emotions — gets me every time. Chills for days.

 

“I don’t know who’s more nervous, her or her dad,” Lewis said into the mic as his daughter, Zoe came on stage to sing a song alongside of him. Wasn’t sure if this is her first time in front of a large crowd like that or not, but she killed it. “Gonna end this segment with this song that’s very special to me,” Lewis said before starting the anthem he made for the 413, “Massachusetts.”

As the sun was setting, the genres were changing. Country-time was over, and Rock-land had now begun. Corey Taylor, singer of Slipknot and Stone Sour, graced the stage wearing an Elvira shirt accompanied by Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci. They played a few acoustic covers, including Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” which makes me cry every damn time I hear it. However, it was short-lived because they had to bounce out of there early to hitch it up to New York for the beginning of their tour.

But… Lewis came back onstage with original Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, Godsmack singer Sully Erna, and members of his country band formed a supergroup just for us. It was literally a jam session in the middle of a forest with a bunch of friends laughing and joking on stage, playing covers of their favorite artists. They played an eerily beautiful rendition of “Crawling” by Linkin Park in memoriam to the recent passing of Chester Bennington.

The tall trees were illuminated by the colorful lights on stage, just as a reunion of three of the original members of Staind came on to end the show. Lewis, Mushock, and bassist John April came on stage along with Lewis’ current drummer Sal Giancarelli. “Outside” came on and I felt like I was back in high school at my first Staind show. I heard someone behind me say “Oh my god, if Fred Durst comes out I’m going to shit myself.” My inner response was, “Please, no.”

Walking back to my car, I heard that very familiar song that whether you like it or not, you know every word. I smiled to myself in the pitch blackness of the path to my car and thought, “Hmm, ‘It’s Been A While’ since I heard THAT song live.”

Contact Jennifer Levesque at jlevesque@valleyadvocate.com.

Jennifer Levesque

Author: Jennifer Levesque

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