Jessica Lea Mayfield

It hasn’t been long since Jessica Lea Mayfield played the Rhythm Room. Only six months, actually. But things are a lot different for the singer-songwriter discovered by Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach. Since her gig opening for Annuals in Phoenix she’s had a South By Southwest coming-out party, opened for Ray LaMontagne, been featured on NPR, reviewed in the New York Times, and played Bonnaroo. The attention is well deserved. Mayfield's minor-key vocals have an almost mesmerizing effect that her backing band has fully cultivated to create a sound that falls nothing short of hypnotic. The 19-year-old folk/blues/bluegrass songwriter hails from Kent, Ohio, just down the road from Auerbach's Akron. Her home town is a quaint blend of hippie and hillbilly, so maybe it's fitting that her minor-key vocals sit somewhere between Gillian Welch and Neko Case. She’s come along way in the time we’ve been watching, and we can only guess at what she was like before that (her first EP was purportedly recorded in her brother's bedroom with 100 copies printed). Her new album, produced by Auerbach, has a lo-fi feel that masks the richer, deeper sound of her past live shows. Whichever sound she brings to Rhythm Room, this is a concert to see.
Sun., July 19, 8 p.m., 2009
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Brian Bardwell