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Life on the road is just life for David Mayfield
Be intimidated by his talent, not his beard.
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BY ANDREW LEAHEY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
"It seems like I'm always on tour," David Mayfield said last week, halfway through a tour up and down the Atlantic coast.
He's not kidding. As a teenager, Mayfield traveled around the country with his family band, One Way Rider, becoming an accomplished bluegrass musician long before he could even drive the 1956 tour bus that shuttled the Mayfields from town to town.
His parents sang lead. Jessica Lee Mayfield, the youngest member of the family, provided harmonies. David Mayfield played bass and quickly learned the guitar, too--an instrument he'd later put to use in his solo career.
"I was about 15 years old at the time," he remembered. "Sometimes we'd go out for five or six weeks at a time, playing county fairs or churches or just sitting down on the street and playing songs for tips. We'd do anything we could to fill the day with something musical."
Mayfield, now in his upper 20s, readily acknowledges the fact that most people view his upbringing as unusual, something more reminiscent of "The Partridge Family" than a typical adolescence. Even so, his parents knew what they were doing.
Jessica Lea Mayfield, now a solo artist in her own right, has become the darling of America's indie-folk scene. David occasionally tours with her, serving as a last-minute backup musician whenever her usual players can't make the show. But most of his energy is funneled into solo projects like David Mayfield Parade, a roots-rock band steeped in folk, country and the lessons learned during David's earliest gigs.
"I learned about showmanship while playing those churches with my family," he said. "My parents were real big on teaching their children the idea that we're providing a service, just like a plumber or an electrician would. If people come to your show and pay money for a ticket, they deserve to be entertained. They don't want to see somebody up there feeding his own ego and making music only for himself."
Onstage, Mayfield is a whirlwind of energy, climbing onto the broad side of his bandmate's upright bass one minute and breaking into a spontaneous dance the next. Big, bearded and barrel-chested, he cuts an imposing figure, but he's just as capable of delivering acoustic, country-tinged ballads as loud rock anthems.
What: David Mayfield Parade with Dangermuffin Where: Jammin' Java, 227 Maple Ave., E., Vienna When: May 24 at 8 p.m. Cost: $12 Info: 703/255-1566, jamminjava.com, thedavid mayfieldparade.com