Aaron Lewis: The Hampton Beach Casino.

Review and Photography by Micah Gummel.
Hampton Beach Casino, Hampton, NH.

On July 25th, 2011, I made the rainy drive to Hampton Beach filled with anticipation for the evening. Staind’s Aaron Lewis was performing an acoustic show at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom!

Picture this: Aaron walks on stage, sporting a black Hatebreed t-shirt, a camo baseball cap and jeans. He takes his guitar and sits down on a stool. The setting reminded me of VH1 Storytellers

There was a rug in the middle of the stage, two stools, his cigarettes, microphones, guitar cases and several Figi water bottles near by.  People were singing along, shouting out song requests with the comedic Aaron answering them back or singing a couple lines.

Thinking about what the show would be like, I assumed his set would cover mostly his new solo album, Town Line, and perhaps his new song, “Country Boy.” Aaron is one of the few songwriters who composes pieces that can crossover from rock to country with just changing an instrument. His choice tonight was an acoustic guitar and his uncomplicated,  yet powerful voice,  That’s more than enough to turn a simple song into a work of musical art. The bare instrumentation and writing, combined with Aaron’s one of kind vocals makes for a winning outcome.

The night was filled with a  light-hearted, open side of Aaron. He cracked jokes, threw f-bombs, and opened up details about his family life. Few know that he lived on the streets in Hampton, NH, and at 18, Aaron was homeless living on Hampton Beach, crashing on the sand,  at friends’ houses and eating whatever he could find.
“I know all the trash cans with the best pizza,” said Lewis.
In the years between living and performing on the beach,  the front man and his band sold more than 15 million albums and widely toured. 
During the show, Ben Kitterman (Yes, his bus driver!!), came out and played his acoustic dobro guitar to accompany him for the rest of the performance.  The two and a half hour, no intermission set which included many covers and clips of songs. He even played parts of “Rainbow Connection,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time,” Bruce Springsteen, Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” and more. 

Aaron Lewis at the Hampton Beach Casino 2011