When David Mayfield was 12 years old and growing up in Newton Falls, he pestered his parents to let him play bass in their country band, One Way Rider.
“They were going through bass players left and right,” Mayfield said. “They couldn’t keep a bass player sober to get through the week. So I said let me play bass, and they said if you can learn to play all of the bass parts on the bass strings of the guitar, we’ll buy you a bass.
“I learned all of their songs – I’m not saying I learned them well – and when dad got his income tax check back, he took me to buy a bass.”
The family relocated to Nashville for awhile to pursue a career as a bluegrass band. They eventually returned to northeast Ohio, but they instilled a passion for music in their children. David’s younger sister, Jessica Lea Mayfield, has recorded two acclaimed albums produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. And David returned to Nashville, touring in country singer Andy Griggs’ band as he pursued his own career.
These days he’s more likely to be playing alongside the Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons or with his own group, David Mayfield Parade, which will celebrate the release of its second album, “Good Man Down,” with a concert April 4 at The Kent Stage.
Mayfield financed the album through the fundraising site Kickstarter. Setting a goal of $18,000, he ended up receiving nearly $43,000 in pledges.
“It’s a really empowering way to get this done,” he said. “Instead of asking one big wig at a record company for a big chunk of money, you ask a lot of people to give you a little money. And it’s not charity, because they get something back.”
Some of the incentives Mayfield offered was having contributors’ faces drawn into the comic book-style artwork that fills the CD booklet ($300 pledge) to producing an artist’s next album ($5,000 pledge).
The comic book idea was born out of necessity as well as Mayfield’s own love of the art form.
“One thing my friends have done is pick Kickstarter rewards that were too time-consuming, like ‘I’ll write a song for you’,” Mayfield said. “I was real conscious of not putting myself in that situation, where you have to write 400 personal song lyrics.”
He did commit to playing solo house concerts for seven backers ($1,000 each) and full-band performances for four backers ($2,500 each).
“Anyone pitching in a chunk of money for you to play in their living room is going to be a pretty sincere fan,” Mayfield said. “It ends up being a real treat, a lot of fun.”
Having the extra money to record didn’t change his approach in the studio; instead it will help with the marketing and touring once it is released next week. Recording in Nashville and Painesville, Mayfield wanted “Good Man Down” to show his musical range while having a cohesive album feel.
Mayfield’s bluegrass roots are evident throughout – both in his guitar and bass playing and his in pure, crisp tenor vocals – but the music also goes in more experimental directions, sliding from the traditional acoustic sound of “Superfluous Instrumental Reprise” to the colder, electronic instrumentation of “Trapped Under the Ice.”
“I feel like our live show is very theatrical with lots of moments like that that blend songs together, big cinematic moments and then small personal moments,” he said. “I was just trying to find a way to put that into an album, give listeners that same kind of journey.
“Now it seems more people are more interested in the single. I wanted to make a record where you’re laying on your belly with your headphones on and listening to the entire thing while reading the comic book.”
“Another Year” features vocals by the bluegrass group Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the disc also includes Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers singing with Mayfield on the opening track “Love (Will Only Break Your Heart)” and country star Dierks Bentley doing a duet with Mayfield on the Marty Stuart song “Tempted.”
Mayfield met the Avetts when he was playing bass for his sister’s band. He sat in the with the band many times when his sister was opening for them, and he even played drums for the Avett Brothers at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2010 when their regular drummer became ill.
“Seth Avett’s been a big influence and a friend,” Mayfield said. “That was kind of an easy choice. Dierks is a little stranger. He had heard One Way Rider years ago when I was a kid and he was kid. He saw me playing with Mumford & Sons years later and remembered me, which is kind of interesting. He said if you ever do anything, give me a call, so I reached out and asked if he wanted to do ‘Tempted.”‘
The only cover on the album, Mayfield picked it because it’s a song his parents used to sing, and it provided a lighter moment in the middle of some heavier songs.
“It lent itself well to the man duet,” he said.
The success of his friends the Avetts and Mumford & Sons would seem to indicate that the time is right commercially for Mayfield’s rootsy, genre-straddling sound.
“I’ve noticed as I look at pop music, it seems to go in trends. It goes from one extreme to the other. In the ’90s, it was more real, more raw with grunge and then later on it was songwriting bands like Matchbox Twenty. Then it goes more to the extreme of produced, Disney, pop kind of stuff.
“Eventually, people want something more real and raw. That’s the appeal of The Lumineers and fun. and Mumford, they could play in your living room. They don’t need computers and a light show. Eventually that will fade out again.”
Mayfield already is on the road supporting the new record with a week of dates in the South before the official CD release show on April 4 in Kent. He expects to spend most of the year touring.
“When it comes to touring, I have a blue-collar look at things that comes from my family,” he said. “Get out there and just do it. Don’t wait for some big break. Clock in, do a show and move on to the next one.”
And when Mayfield isn’t on the road, he’ll be living in a house he purchased last year in Warren.
“Mom is a real estate agent, and she found it,” he said. “I discovered the Mocha House and was pretty much sold.”