IF YOU GO
* What: David Mayfield Parade, Toy Soldiers and Okinawa.
* When: Today, Nov. 7, 10 p.m.
* Where: JJ's Bohemia, 231 M.L. King Blvd.
* Admission: $7.
* Phone: 266-1400.
* Website: www.jjsbohemia.com.
With national recognition for his instrumental skills and collaborations with the likes of The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, David Mayfield's career has hit plenty of high notes.
Rather than preen about his successes, however, he says he prefers to abide by the lessons he and his sister, Jessica Lea Mayfield, learned growing up playing in the family bluegrass band.
"It was our sole means of support, [so] my parents really instilled in us a sort of blue-collar look at the entertainment industry," he says. "We both look at it more like we're providing a service, like a plumber, and less like we're rock stars out there to serve our egos."
Not that that mindset means he derives any less pleasure from sharing his Americana-rooted songs with crowds around the country. Quite the contrary, he says.
"There are plumbers who love what they do," he says. "It's just important for me to know what I'm going out there for and what the purpose of it is. What it comes down to is to provide entertainment for people who worked a lot harder than I did all day."
Tonight, Mayfield will take the stage at JJ's Bohemia with his backing band, The Parade, on a bill with Okinawa and Toy Soldiers.
Growing up, Mayfield filled bass duties in the family band. In his teens, he shifted his focus to mandolin and guitar, a decision that landed him backing gigs in his sister's band and later as a member of Texas/Nashville bluegrass band Cadillac Sky.
With the imminent end of Cadillac Sky approaching in 2010, Mayfield says he was nervous about his prospects until Avett Brothers' lead singer Seth Avett encouraged him to strike out on his own.
In 2010, despite writing songs that for years had never risen above the level of "really, really bad," he released his solo debut, "The Parade." The album received largely positive response, propelling his transition from a career sideman to the leader of a band with a heavy schedule of national touring.
A second album, "Good Man Down," followed in April, and he is in the mixing stages of a third, which should release next spring.
Even if he sometimes finds himself becoming distracted by lofty ambitions in the studio or while songwriting, Mayfield says when he's looking past the mike into a sea of faces, the focus shifts from his enjoyment to theirs.
"The person who buys the ticket is just as much a part of what I'm doing as I am because I can't do it without them," he says. "I've tried. I just end up in my underwear in my kitchen at 3 a.m. putting on a show and no one is impressed."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...