Sometimes things just work out better than you planned. Need time to work on a solo album? No problem, because your main band is breaking up. Want your sister to sing on the album? She insists. What about the Avetts? They'd not only be happy to sing on the song you hoped for, but they'll also stick around for more.
Such was the case for David Mayfield. When he began work on his solo album under the title The David Mayfield Parade, his main band, Cadillac Sky, happened to go on indefinite hiatus. His sister, singer Jessica Lea Mayfield, helped out on one of his songs — not only because it's his sister, but because the two have worked together so often in the past. An after Seth Avett pushed Mayfield to work on a solo album, he was more than happy to help out with anything he needed. Sometimes things just work out beautifully.
Moving to Nashville, Tenn., from his native Ohio opened a lot of doors for David Mayfield. He met his band Cadillac Sky there, and it's also helped with doing studio work with other artists when he's not on the road. The only bad thing is that his talent and growing popularity have made him a busy man.
"We'll end up playing about 250 shows this year," Mayfield says by phone from home before hitting the road on his latest tour. "I don't get to tour with Jessica anymore, but we [played] Bonnaroo together and are talking about doing about 10 shows this winter as an 'Evening With' night that's more laid-back in small clubs."
Mayfield's solo work takes '60s, and even '50s, rock influence into folk music. It's more personal than the stuff he was doing with Cadillac Sky, but still honest in its lyrical content.
"What's been hard for me is trying to write something from a third-person perspective or something that's completely fictional," he says. "I have trouble finding a voice that isn't my own. Even if I'm trying to write a song that's not directly about my life, it becomes a personal take on that thing. It almost becomes like a journal entry for me."
The songs that have ended up on his self-titled solo album were too personal to be a part of Cadillac Sky. When that band broke up — Mayfield calls their indefinite hiatus "most likely forever" — he had already taken on a semi-front man role. The lead singer had been replaced, and Mayfield was singing about half of the songs.
"I was always rowdy and crazy on stage," he says. "I was the one who was screaming and doing forward tumbles and jumping off stage and the wild man in Cadillac Sky. It wasn't hard to make the transition [to leading my own band] because I felt like I was the front man understudy."
He's already thinking about his next album, but at this point, his touring is focusing on his solo debut. Mayfield says he approaches the studio and live work differently, as the studio effort is usually more listenable — "for listening in the car or while at work." His live show "captures the energy of the crowd, the visual aspect of entertainment and whatever mood I happen to be in that day."
It's a vibe that's similar to that of The Avett Brothers, a band that Mayfield doesn't hesitate to cite as an influence. It was Seth who pushed his solo efforts after hearing David and Jessica sing while at the Avett's house. "He said I should make a solo record whether I could tour it or not — he knew I was busy with Cadillac Sky," Mayfield says. "Being a fan of his writing, it was really encouraging for him to say that."
Along with the Avetts and Jessica Lea, Paleface and Mo also make an appearance on the album. They were in town and stopped by the studio to hear some of Mayfield's work and ended up singing for the album.
"I never planned to make a record with a huge list of guests, but it just kind of happened," Mayfield says. "I couldn't do a record without my sister being on it somewhere. I don't think she'd let me. And I wasn't going to turn any of them down if they wanted to sing on my album."