There are many things changing in the life of young Jessica Lea Mayfield, but one thing she doesn’t want to change is her tour bus, which was used at various times by country music legends Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe and Ernest Tubb.
Mayfield’s family in Kent, Ohio, performing as a bluegrass band called One Way Rider, used that 1956 model Flex bus for many years to go to festivals and other shows.
“Bill Monroe’s son, James, wants my family to give him that bus, but I’m not ready to let it go,” said Mayfield, who performs in Augusta on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Sky City, 1157 Broad St., with special guests Carey Murdock and Ri¢hie.
Doors open at 8 p.m., with music starting at 10 p.m. There’s a $10 cover charge.
“I lived on that bus in those tight quarters with my parents and brother and sister growing up,” the 22-year-old Mayfield said. “It made us very close. My parents were more like my best friends. My parents treated us kids like adults and equals. They’d pay me even as a kid after a show and say, ‘Here’s your cut.’
“That bus is one of the few places in the world I feel comfortable. I’ll sometimes just go sit in it when I go back home. It’s my childhood. I know it has its own incredible past, but it has my past in it as well.”
Mayfield is rarely at home these days – in November alone she’s performing in 10 states. She just finished a series of dates with the Avett Brothers.
Next month, she’s performing six dates with Ryan Adams, including being at Carnegie Hall, a coveted venue for performers, in New York City.
“I’m probably more excited about playing the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville two weeks ago,” she said. “I sang For Today on the Americana Music Awards show in the Ryman with the Avett Brothers joining me.”
For Today also was featured on the Starbucks compilation CD Have You Heard? Winter ’09. Her version of Buddy Holly’s ballad Words of Love is included on the Starbucks compilation CD Sweetheart: Our Favorite Artists Sing Their Favorite Love Songs.
In addition to her 2008 CD With Blasphemy So Heartfelt and her new CD Tell Me released in February, Mayfield also received national media exposure through her network TV debut last February on the Late Show With David Letterman.
Her song Kiss Me Again was heard on the CW cable TV network’s Gossip Girl show and Bible Days was featured on the CBS network program CSI: NY.
Both of her CDs were produced by Dan Auerbach of the Akron, Ohio-based rock duo The Black Keys, whose albums have sold more than 2 million copies in the United States.
Mayfield hooked up with Auerbach in a unique way. She had broken up with her first serious boyfriend and poured her heartbreak into her first CD, White Lies, which she recorded in her brother’s bedroom. They made only 100 copies, but one ended up in Auerbach’s hands.
“He got his copy from his dad, Chuck, who had gotten it from a guy I had been dating,” Mayfield said. “Out of the blue, I got a message from Danny saying, ‘Hey, I play in a band, and I like this record. Give me a call if you want to get together.’
‘‘I was 16 at the time. I recorded eight songs the first day we met. I had only worked with my family prior to meeting him.”
The Los Angeles Times wrote of her new CD Tell Me, “Mayfield has developed a sound that’s coy and plain-spoken; a fascinating take on the demure female singer, especially as that role has unfolded within Mayfield’s chosen home base of Americana.”
Rolling Stone magazine picked her as an artist to watch and wrote before her 22nd birthday, “At 21, Mayfield looks like an ingénue but sings like a worldly-wise veteran, picking apart relationships with the sly eroticism of someone who’s lived a little. Producer Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) gives Mayfield’s confessions a darker hue, laying on tremolo guitar while nudging the noirish country songs toward British Invasion pop (Nervous Lonely Night), among other genres.”
The British Broadcasting Co. said in its review, “And, quite brilliantly, it delivers every second of the promise whispered by previous releases and press reports. A record of uncommon vulnerability from an artist of clear ability, it’s a treasure of tremendous emotional resonance and steely focus.”
Her brother, David, is her frequent songwriting partner. He also has been gaining attention with his band The David Mayfield Parade and his new, self-titled CD.
“I’m really obsessed with lyrics,” Jessica said. “A friend of mine told me, ‘You’ve got a freakish ability to remember songs.’
“I like a lot of different kinds of music. “With my last record, I was a teenage girl. Now I’m coming into my own by creating something that is completely mine which people see as being sincere and unique.”