If he wasn’t turning music into gold, Aaron Lewis would likely be turning gold into jewelry.

The frontman for popular rock group Staind, who will be appearing live for a solo, acoustic concert at Merrill Auditorium in Portland this week, was going to be a goldsmith before he realized he could make a living with his guitar instead.

“Yes, I’m a goldsmith by trade so that’s probably what I’d be doing,” he said. “My grandfather started a store and I went to a trade school to learn.”

As a native New Englander who grew up in Rutland, Vt., Lewis is familiar with Maine.

Still, despite spending much of his formative years in Vermont and Massachusetts, Staind’s lead singer didn’t visit the Pine Tree State too often.

When he plays Merrill in an unplugged performance beginning at 7:30 tonight, it will bring to about a half-dozen the number of times he’s stayed in Maine.

“This is probably my fifth or sixth time in Maine,” Lewis said. “I’m looking forward to it. Love the lobster.”

This is the second of 13 shows Lewis is doing between now and Nov. 1.

“This is the last solo run before we go back into the studio as a band,” Lewis said. “We stopped in October and now I’m back out. I feel re-energized and ready to get back on the road.

“It’s refreshing in that I’m moving on to new material.”

Lewis says it’s liberating to go from playing full bore with his bandmates in Staind to going solo and unplugged, and vice-versa.

“They both have their time and place. One is a breath of fresh air for the other,” he said. “The venues are different too. It’s great to play large stadiums, but there’s an intimacy factor lost when you go to a big venue.”

Staind and Lewis are known for their angst-ridden lyrics on songs like “It’s Been Awhile,” “So Far Away,” “Price to Pay,” “For You” and “Epiphany.” What does he draw from to inspire his songs?

“Life. I usually write from experience,” he said.

Lewis learned music and how to play a guitar through his dad, who also played in a band.

“I grew up around it. My dad used to play by himself and in a band and the band practiced in my house,” Lewis recalled. “I started playing bass when I was 5 and my dad played guitar. I really wanted to play guitar so I started playing that when I was 7.”

Lewis’ father is also a Vietnam veteran who was in the Army Corps of Engineers, but saw no active duty overseas. How does he look at his son, the rock star?

“He’s pretty proud. Not sure if he’s more proud of my career or me doing USO shows, since he was in the Army for six years,” Lewis said. “He was lucky. He was called up on four different occasions for Vietnam and each time, they called it off.”

Tickets for Lewis’ show on Thursday night are available for $56.50, $46 and $36 at the Merrill Auditorium lobby, by calling 842-0800 or online at www.porttix.com.