For someone who won’t be old enough to drink in the places she plays until the end of August, Jessica Lea Mayfield certainly has an impressive resume.
The 20-year-old singer/songwriter was born in Kent, Ohio, into a musical family (her older sister, Amanda Williams, is a member of Cadillac Sky) and started playing with her family’s Bluegrass band, One Way Rider, at age 8. When she was 11, she began writing her own songs and within a couple of years had amassed a sizable portfolio of songs that she performed at open-mic shows and solo opening gigs.
By the time she was 15, Mayfield had home-recorded White Lies, her debut EP of original songs, with assistance from her brother David. The EP found its way to the father of Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, who passed it along to his son.
The Akron native contacted Mayfield through MySpace to introduce himself and offered her the opportunity to record and hang out. In fact, she auditioned for the Keys as a bassist. As a result, Mayfield provided backing vocals on The Black Keys’ Attack and Release album and Auerbach’s sessions with Mayfield wound up being her lauded 2008 album, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt.
Mayfield’s stock has risen steadily over the past two years, through great notices for Blasphemy and high-profile opening slots for The Black Keys and The Avett Brothers. With a flat, expressionless vocal quality that stealthily disguises the dark, roiling emotion at the heart of her songs — she’s been compared to Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams and Townes Van Zandt — and a musical style that effectively bridges Bluegrass and the Blues, Jessica Lea Mayfield is poised to become a marquee artist of considerable influence and acclaim.
PS: Don’t come to the show late. Opening for Mayfield are local faves No No Knots, featuring compelling frontwoman Molly Sullivan, and Indie supergroup Among the Oak & Ash, comprised of brilliant singer/songwriters Garrison Starr and Josh Joplin. Not to be missed.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)