Country music singer Granger Smith plays to an enthusiastic crowd at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston on Wednesday evening.

Granger Smith, center, greets fans Ari MacDougall and Harlan MacKenzie from Somerville in a meet-and-greet at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston on Wednesday evening.

LEWISTON — Brian Bussell stood off to the right of the stage, a beer in each hand, a ball cap on his head, the sleeves hacked off his shirt.

Stoked for the Granger Smith concert? You could say that.

“I’m going to be here until 2 a.m. at least and I have to work in the morning,” Bussell said. “That’s the kind of fan I am.”

Smith brought out a lot of that kind of fan, as it turns out, when he came to play Wednesday night at Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

Actually, it wasn’t so much Smith as his alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. that got guys like Bussell riled up. Dibbles is a little less polite than Smith, they say. He’s edgier. He’s meaner.

“That’s who I came to see,” Bussell said. “All that stuff you can’t say out in public? Dibbles Jr. says it. He brings out the inner me.”

Not that Smith is all bad.

“Hanging out with friends and having a good time,” said Arthur Ryan, Bussell’s best friend and a classmate at Husson College. “That’s what Granger Smith is.”

There was hootin’. There was hollerin’. There was beer-swilling and yee-hawing. All the elements you expect at a country music concert in play in Simard-Payne Memorial Park.

Not that everyone who came was there for country.

“I’m a rock and roll guy,” said 56-year-old Rick Bolduc, who walked over from Auburn, picked out a spot and sat on the grass with a bottle of Lite beer. “I don’t even know who Granger Smith is. I just came to check it out and to be out in the sun. It’s a great night to be out with a couple of beers.”

Tammy Bureau of Lewiston came with her husband, Marc, and a couple of lawn chairs. When it comes to music, Marc was always more of a heavy metal guy.

“He’s a head-banger from way back,” Tammy said. “But I got him into country music a little bit. We listen to pretty much everything now.”

The Bureaus have been to Simard-Payne many times, they said. There’s the Great Falls Balloon Festival, of course, and the Brew Fest. This was their first concert there.

“A couple lawn chairs and a few beers,” said Marc, on his way into the park. “And I’m really thirsty because I just got out of work.”

It was all very new for Danielle Bean, too. For the 14-year-old Harrison girl, the Granger Smith show was her first concert of any kind.

“I just like country music,” she said. “And I really like a lot of his songs.”

Danielle’s mother, Penny, was with her, although slightly less enthused — her first concert was 38-Special back in the day. She didn’t know much about this Granger Smith fellow.

For Arthur Ryan, Smith’s music is all about association. For one thing, it provided the sound track for his early days at Husson College.

“Our freshman year, every time we’d go out and do something fun, we’d have Granger playing. “And this is a great atmosphere for it. We love it.”

“It’s music that we relate to,” said 18-year-old Olivia Ryan, Arthur’s sister.

Smith has been making music for more than a decade, but he became a household name last year when his hit, “Backroad Song,” rocketed to No. 1 on the country music chart. Another song, “If the Boot Fits,” rose to No. 5 on the chart.

“He’s a cool new artist,” said Marc Bureau, before he made off for the beer tent.

Alec Howse, left, and Sean O’Donnell, both of Lewiston, get to the Granger Smith concert at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston early to get close to the stage. The two have been fans of Smith’s music since the first time they heard him.

Meanwhile in Auburn: ‘I think all the cool people are at this one’

AUBURN — Just as Madison Leslie prepared to sing the national anthem in Festival Plaza on Wednesday night, a clamor arose from the other side of the river – deejays promoting the Granger Smith concert on the Lewiston side began to whoop and holler as they introduced an opening act.

In Festival Plaza, a few people rolled their eyes. Others laughed, a few shook their heads and plenty didn’t acknowledge the ruckus at all.

“Why make a big deal out of it?” said Ron Houle, dutifully handing out programs for the Auburn Community Concert Band’s weekly free concert.

That seemed to be the prevailing opinion.

There were essentially two concerts happening at the same time, said Androscoggin Bank CEO Paul Andersen, “but I think all the cool people are at this one.”

The audience loved it. In fact, the applause was so loud, it blocked out the noise from the other side of the river, if only temporarily.

Some had worried that the dual concerts would create a kind of battle of the bands.

“The Auburn Community Band has been performing every Wednesday night, every summer, at Festival Plaza for the last 36 years,” band director Milt Simon said earlier in the week. “That’s not going to change.”

And it didn’t. The band played as expected and ultimately it was no big deal. By the time Granger Smith took the stage on the other side of the river and things got really loud, the show was already over in Festival Plaza.

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