Live review: David Mayfield Parade

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David Mayfield Parade
The Evening Muse
Sept. 29, 2011

David Mayfield didn't just walk out on to the stage, he strutted like a peacock. Offering whips and turns, twists and kicks, he picked up his guitar and launched into the David Mayfield Parade's 75-minute set full of Americana infused with alt-country and bluegrass styles and braided with humor.

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The bearded singer/guitarist, dressed in black jeans and flannel shirt, was an immediate opposite from his shy, somber sister, Jessica Lea, who was at Snug Harbor last weekend. He found time during his set to tell deadpan jokes, race off the Evening Muse stage into the crowd to dance and scream at random moments — whether it was part of the song or not.

Mayfield's humor was in the spotlight for the duration of Thursday night's show. He introduced violinist Kristin Weber as his "oldest daughter," told everyone that bass player Shelby Means was his "youngest daughter" also noting "she's from Buffalo... most people have human parents" and that guitarist Wes Langlois "needed no introduction" — so he didn't get one. He later thanked "John Oates for opening the show" — there was no opening act.

While his dry wit entertained the crowd between songs, it wasn't all laughs as Mayfield also grabbed the listener through heartfelt lyrics. Humor can only go so far, but when you combine it with music talent by the entire band, it was a performance in every sense of the word.

Coming from the folk-rock band Cadillac Sky, Mayfield has put himself in the position to not only be the center of attention, but to get his music out in the best format possible. It should be no surprise that the Avett Brothers pushed him to record his own songs after hearing them. He has also surrounded himself with talented people who not only give him the backing he needs musically, but the ability to showcase their own talents and give him a break in the midst of his high-energy set.

Throughout the night, Mayfield played a combination of folk, rock, alt-country off his self-titled album with a balance between the upbeat ("Noreen") and heartfelt ("Breath of Love"). In addition to their instrumental accompaniment, Weber and Means also offered vocal harmonies with Mayfield. The group also gathered at the front of the stage for an a capella hymn after Mayfield wryly noted that they were "playing the devil's music."

Mayfield's picking ability — speed being a big part of it — was front-and-center during a solo spotlight in the middle of the show that was combined with shaking his ass to odd guitar note bends. When a crowd member commented that he had enough of his shimmies and shakes, Mayfield screamed, "My ass has something to say and you're going to hear it!" inciting even more laughter in the crowd.

Mayfield ended his set by jumping up on the bar and opening his shirt to expose a round stomach most people probably had no desire to see — adding a kind of punchline to the evening's performance.

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