Scott Kucharski

PHOTOS: Aaron Lewis, Nate Hosie, and Ben Danaher at Circle Drive-In in Dickson City, 08/30/20

PHOTOS: Aaron Lewis, Nate Hosie, and Ben Danaher at Circle Drive-In in Dickson City, 08/30/20
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Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down live music indoors across the area, the Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City has been at the forefront of keeping concerts live outside, hosting local opening acts for summer drive-in events and teaming up with Stage West in Scranton, DamnMillennial Promotions, and SLP Concerts for a series of national acts heading into the fall season.

The first was held on Sunday, Aug. 30 with Aaron Lewis, the chart-topping frontman of Staind who reinvented himself as a solo country artist in the last decade. Montdale native and current Nashville recording artist Nate Hosie returned to his hometown area to open the show, along with fellow Nashville singer/songwriter Ben Danaher.

Currently working on the second volume of his latest EP, “The Woods, Vol. 1,” Hosie played some of his original country songs with a few rock covers, mentioning his local roots in the popular Scranton band Maybe Someday. He was joined on stage by his former bandmate Jimmy Reynolds and drummer Zhach Kelsch, and all of them seemed thrilled to be back in front of a real crowd again. For those who weren’t in the audience, Hosie can be seen on the hunting reality show “HeadHunters TV,” which is in its ninth season on the Outdoor Channel.

With pickup trucks and American flags across the lot, Lewis came out sporting a “Trump/Pence 2020” hat, so he certainly knew the crowd he was performing for. Armed only with an acoustic guitar, a beer, and a cigarette, he did not have a prepared setlist, choosing to “wing it” and breaking out Staind’s 2001 megahit “It’s Been Awhile” early in the night. Three other stripped-down Staind tunes came at the tail end of the hour-and-40-minute set that featured songs from all of his solo albums – “The Road,” “Sinner,” and his latest, 2019’s “State I’m In.”

The 48-year-old “Country Boy” was scheduled to come to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre in the spring (a venue that is now hosting drive-in shows of its own), though this may have been a more fitting setting for what would have been his State I’m In Tour. A grassy hill separated the stage from the parked vehicles, but with friends and family sitting on truck beds and lawn chairs, great sound from the stage speakers as well as car radios, live projection on the adjacent movie screen, and perfect weather for this event, it felt like a backyard barbecue more than a typical concert.

“Damn it feels good to play live shows again,” Lewis posted on social media the next day.

Live music continues at the Circle with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre jamgrass group Cabinet and one-man jam band Keller Williams on Friday, Sept. 4 (rescheduled from Aug. 29 due to inclement weather), followed by the Marcus King Trio on Sunday, Sept. 6, Steel Panther on Sep. 12, Smith & Myers of Shinedown on Sept. 18, and The Allman Betts Band on Sept. 19.

Photos by Jason Riedmiller Photography/Scott Kucharski Photography/NEPA Scene