Aaron Lewis and Blackberry Smoke hosted a throwback honky-tonk party at the nearly sold-out Packard Music Hall in Warren on Saturday night.

Blackberry Smoke kicked off the evening with a multitude of songs that cross several musical genres.  The Georgia-based band is rooted in southern rock, but they can play Country (“Sunrise In Texas”), Blues (“I Ain’t Got The Blues Anymore”), and good ol’ Rock and Roll (“Waiting For The Thunder”).  

Lead singer and guitarist Charlie Starr told the near capacity crowd, “It feels good to be with you here tonight on a Saturday night!,” right before the band tore into “Pretty Little Lie.”

The band got to show off their chops as they jammed on “Sleeping Dogs Lie” which saw keyboardist Brandon Still and Starr played extended solo’s.  This improvisation led the band to play a little of The Beatles’ “Come Together” before closing out this 10-minute opus.

Starr was in a great mood as he often thanked the crowd and at one point stating, “We are on the ‘Sinners and Sanctified Tour’ but they should have called it the ‘They Don’t Play Us On The Radio Tour!”  He said Aaron Lewis calls it the “We Don’t Give A Shit That They Don’t Play Us On The Radio Tour!”

“One Horse Town,” “Like An Arrow” and “Ain’t Much Left Of Me” closed out their 80-minute set.

Blackeberry Smoke are one of the best bands that are currently on the road.  If you’re a fan of southern rock, I highly recommend that you see them.

Aaron Lewis was the headliner and he had to put on an impressive show after the stirring performance by his openers.

He delivered.

Lewis opened the show “like I open every show, by saying “The Pledge.”  He requested that everyone stand and remove their hats and recite “The Pledge” together and everyone in the audience obliged.  

Afterwards, chants of “USA, USA” rang throughout the arena and Lewis and his four-piece backing band launched into “Country Boy.”  

Although Lewis is perhaps best known for being the frontman for the rock group Staind, he has gone the traditional country route for the past seven years, releasing an EP and two full length albums of country songs, including his 2016 release Sinner which topped the Country Album charts.

After “Northern Redneck,” Lewis raised his red Solo cup and toasted the audience with “Here’s to getting in a tree stand tomorrow morning!”

Talk about knowing your audience.

A couple of Staind songs made it into the set; “Right Here” and “It’s Been A While”  sounded great even though they were given a little country twang.

Lewis has been known to play a cover song or two and tonight was no exception.  He and the band played a slow and chilled version of The Foo Fighters “Everlong.”  It was an unexpected surprise that wasn’t on the set list.

Being Veteran’s Day, Lewis dedicated “Folded Flag” to “all of the soldiers and the families of soldiers who didn’t make it home.”  At the conclusion, more chants of “USA, USA” rang out.

On the next song, Lewis admitted that “I pissed on Luke Bryan’s Corn Flakes and I called out 90% of Nashville” but he didn’t care.  “That Ain’t Country” is a throwback country tune that does in fact call out the “Bro-Country” trend in today’s music and how he doesn’t like it.

The show closed with the song that started it all for Lewis.  With just an acoustic guitar and his voice, “Outside” was performed with as much passion as the first time he played it.

Newcomer to the country scene, Alex Williams opened the show with thirty minutes of original traditional country tunes.  It’s no wonder Rolling Stone magazine listed him as one of the “Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know.”  He is supporting his debut release titled Better Than Myself.  He is one to keep your eye on.


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Greg Drugan has been attending concerts since 1982 and has seen everyone from AC/DC to ZZ Top. Classic rock is his forte, but he is also well versed in alternative and pop music. When not attending concerts, Greg can be found teaching history, psychology and the history of rock n roll at a rural high school where he also serves as the head track coach. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, reading and spending time with his family.