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Around Hear: Black Label 

Keys Frontman Forms Label For Jessica Lea Mayfield

Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach has co-founded Polymer Sounds to release Kent musician Jessica Lea Mayfield's upcoming record, With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt. Auerbach's partner in the project is Jody White, Mayfield's Tennessee-based manager.

"Jessica, Dan and I all had a specific vision of how we wanted to market the album, and we were anxious to release it," explains White. "If we would have gone the standard label route, we would still be having conversations [with executives] and playing tracks for people instead of planning the release and playing shows."

Dr. Dog's Scott McMicken and Frank McElroy sing on "I'm Not Lonely Anymore," and Auerbach produced and recorded the album over the past two years. He assisted with arrangements, played different instruments, harmonized and generally helped the 19-year-old grow beyond the rootsy sound displayed on her previous two discs, which she recorded under the name Chittlin'.

"The new [album] is more rock, but it's still me," says singer-guitarist Mayfield. "It's got more electric guitar with distortion and fuzz. It's a lot bigger, fuller sounding."

Sony's RED network will distribute the disc internationally. The CD-release party is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd.).

At the show, she'll be backed by guitarist Mike Lenz, drummer Jason Edwards and upright-bassist David Mayfield. David, her older brother, recorded bluegrass versions of two Heartfelt songs on his upcoming record, For Today.

Mayfield - voted 2008's Vocalist of the Year by Free Times readers - has already toured to the West Coast and back, opening for Lucero, the Avett Brothers and the Black Keys. Her appearance on the Keys track "Things Ain't Like They Used to Be" has generated a crop of fans nationwide. Auerbach has the Keys' powerhouse publicity company, Sacks & Co., promoting her. She's being booked by the Agency Group, whose clients include 3 Doors Down and Paramore.

"The way albums aren't selling these days, you might as well do it yourself," says Mayfield. "I've got professional people behind me. They can get me heard and seen."

¥ MTV2 judges have selected User Sets Mode+ to open two stops of Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution tour. The Akron band - which features Frans/Racermason singer Mandy Lashua and guitarist Derek Lashua - competed with more than 100 bands in MTV2's Rock the Revolution. It'll play Cincinnati's Riverbend Amphitheatre on Friday, August 15, and Blossom on Tuesday, August 19. Bears drummer Craig Ramsey amicably split with the group and has been replaced by Eric Mzik (Solo Flyer, Boatzz). Also at the Projekt shows, Major League Baseball's MLB Roadshow will pass out free USB drives with unreleased Linkin Park MP3s.

¥ Redwater RoJo is preparing to record a new EP with John Guggenheim (the Totally Wired) at C Town Sound. The alt-rock band plays a poker run at Twinsburg's Tail Gators (10683 Ravenna Rd.) on Saturday, August 16.

¥ A new MySpace group celebrates vintage Akron-Kent punk shows. Located at, the site takes its name from a gathering spot that was a good place to grab a cup of coffee before the long ride home.

¥ Bluesman Colin John has two new projects: The Colin John Power Trio and a solo CD, Transpacific Blues. The acoustic disc was inspired by his soon-to-be new home, Hawaii.

"There's a strong similarity between Delta blues and Hawaiian guitar," explains John. "I thought I would honor my influences by recording an album like this." He'll host a CD-release party on Thursday, August 14, at Fat Fish Blue (21 Prospect Ave.).


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