Tennessee Picker Starts His Own Parade

David Mayfield is a busy man. The former Nashville hired gun is the lead guitarist and a main songwriter for experimental newgrass outfit Cadillac Sky. Last year the band spent a hearty year on the road, burning up the highway behind the critically hailed album, Letters in the Deep. The bold acoustic statement—produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys—transformed the band from bluegrass torchbearers to eclectic folk rockers, and the success of the album culminated with the group’s fully sold-out cross country tour supporting wildly popular British string band Mumford and Sons.

But with Cadillac Sky announcing an indefinite hiatus, Mayfield has recently unveiled a new solo project. The David Mayfield Parade finds the accomplished multi-instrumentalist and pensive tunesmith moving even further away from Music City traditionalism and into the realm of indie folk pop. On a brand new self-titled record, Mayfield gets help from his good friends, the Avett Brothers, who sing harmony on most of the album. It also features Mayfield’s sister, eccentric neo-folkie Jessica Lea Mayfield, and up-and-coming Nashville songstress Caitlin Rose.

Grand Marshall of Joy: The David Mayfield Parade says no to shoegaze.

“It has a ‘60s folk pop sound with strings and horns,” Mayfield says of the album, out this month. “But people who’ve listened to the record say they can still hear some country and bluegrass as well.”

Mayfield grew up in Ohio, where he played in a family bluegrass band with his parents and two sisters. When the award-winning guitar and mandolin picker moved to Nashville, he was hired by country ace Andy Griggs and found himself frequently onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. He’s also dabbled in production, picking up a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Southern Gospel category for his work on Barry Scott’s In God’s Time. Still, he cites Randy Newman and Simon and Garfunkel—particularly the album “Bridge over Troubled Water”—as his favorite songwriters and the influences he’s bringing to his solo work. Juggling a variety of different styles and projects is all part of a big equation for Mayfield’s musical satisfaction.

“I moved to Nashville because I had to do more with music,” he says. “Even when I got the gig with a big country star and I was riding around in a big bus, it wasn’t enough. I need to be constantly creating and have different consistent outlets for creativity.”

Mayfield was convinced to push forward with his own album by Scott and Seth Avett, who were impressed with his ideas and wanted to bring them to life. “They hounded me until I made this record,” Mayfield says.

Mayfield toured with the Avett Brothers, when he was playing bass for his sister, Jessica, who consistently opened for the band a few years ago. The Avett Borthers have remained consistent champions of Mayfield. In addition to heavily participating on the new album, they gave Mayfield a coveted opening slot at their huge recent New Year’s Eve show at the Asheville Civic Center.

On stage, Mayfield always exudes a rowdy charismatic edge. For example, he jumps around and bobs his head through his unorthodox solo take on Jimmy Martin’s old school traditional “Freeborn Man.” While his appearance might be initially intimidating thanks to the vintage duds, hipster black frame glasses, and thick war-general beard, Mayfield’s soft-spoken tenor is actually one of the most comforting voices in acoustic music today. In fact, his goal with the Parade is get to people to buck pretension and cut loose.

“My concept with the Parade is to not be hipsters that are too cool to have fun,” Mayfield says. “Let’s be goofy and dance and sing. The shows are supposed to be joyous nights.”

Trail Mix
Download 10 free fresh tracks of regional roots music in our monthly online section, Trail Mix, only at blueridgeoutdoors.com. This month’s favorites:

David Mayfield Parade: “I Just Might Pray”
Mayfield revives the vintage ‘60s pop love song with this lead single from his new album.

Drive-By Truckers: “Used to be a Cop”
The Southern rockers embrace their soulful Muscle Shoals roots on the new album Go-Go Boots, especially on this slinky R&B groove.

Jill Andrews: “Worth Keeping”
Songstress of gone-too-soon Tennessee group the Everybodyfields delivers a poignant solo track of emotional country folk.

The Bridge: “Moonlight Mission”
This Maryland crew blends an affinity to jam with just the right amount of tasteful Americana songcraft.