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Black Keys’ Auerbach Unveils Solo Debut

Black Keys vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach will take time off from his primary band to release his solo debut early next year and will also tour in support of the project.

The 14-track “Keep It Hid” is due Feb. 10 via Nonesuch. Auerbach will hit the road for an 11-date solo tour beginning Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C., with Texas rockers Hacienda serving as his backing band as well as opening act. Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Those Darlings will also support.

“It’s all over the map,” Auerbach said of the music, which he’s been stockpiling for several years. “I write songs for the Black Keys, so some of them sound like they could be Black Keys songs. But some songs are just acoustic guitar. There’s some real dark tunes and some psychedelic rumbas. It’s all that stuff I grew up playing — all those bluegrass harmonies. I experimented a little bit with instrumentation.”

Recorded at Auerbach’s Akron, Ohio, studio “Keep It Hid” is something of a family affair; the artist’s father Chuck wrote the song “Whispered Words,” while his uncle, James Quine, sings and plays electric guitar on “Street Walkin’.” Auerbach’s protege, Jessica Lea Mayfield, appears on “When the Night Comes.”

Musically, “Keep It Hid” runs the gamut from the sparse, drum-less opener “Trouble Weighs a Ton” and the genial acoustic closer “Goin’ Home” to raw, swaggering rockers like “Heartbroken, In Disrepair” (with the trademark vibrato guitar effect from the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”) and “The Prowl.” Other highlights include the British Invasion-style “My Last Mistake” and the late night lament “When the Night Comes.”

Auerbach says the solo shows will be “a totally separate thing from the Black Keys, so there will definitely no Black Keys songs. You’ll hear anything I feel like playing.”

There’s plenty of activity in the Black Keys camp in the run-up to “Keep It Hid.” Having recently completed a writing session with ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons and producer Rick Rubin, the group plays Bristol, England, tonight (Nov. 17), and releases a Lance Bangs-directed concert DVD, “Live at Crystal Ballroom,” tomorrow.

After early January dates in Australia, the Keys will play a handful of North American shows through mid-February.

Here are Dan Auerbach’s solo tour dates:

Feb. 28: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)
March 1: Boston (Paradise)
March 2: Brooklyn, N.Y. (Music Hall of Williamsburg)
March 3: New York (Bowery Ballroom)
March 5: Cleveland (Beachland Ballroom)
March 6: Chicago (Metro)
March 7: Minneapolis (First Avenue)
March 10: Seattle (Showbox)
March 11: Portland, Ore. (Wonder Ballroom)
March 13: San Francisco (Bimbo’s)
March 14: Los Angeles (El Rey Theatre)