Friday Night: Jessica Lea Mayfield At Fitzgerald's
Photos by Marc Brubaker
Jessica Lea Mayfield, David Mayfield Fitzgerald's April 22, 2011
You know those situations where you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, this looks like it doesn't make sense...perhaps some further investigation might prove me wrong"? Friday night was one of the very few times that Aftermath has been proven wrong.
We won't go into depth about our scientific examinations of Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra's marriage, 2 Girls 1 Cup, The Pain Olympics, or "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" before bedtime. Just know that they all ended very badly.
For now, we'll just introduce you to the Mayfields, a charmingly coy brother-sister duo of farm-raised country musicians. Friday, David Mayfield opened for younger sister Jessica Lea, who released the alt-country showcase Tell Me in February, her second album produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
When David Mayfield got to the stage, we weren't sure what to expect. His long beard and pearl snap were off-putting; all he had was an acoustic guitar. He let the crowd know how nervous he was-it was only his second time opening for his sister.
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"I told her to let me open a couple of shows or I was.... gonna tickle her," he giggled. OK, that sounded pretty creepy; and we just prayed that it wouldn't be a depressing acoustic set.
It actually ended being quite the opposite: impressive guitar picking and a standup comedy routine. Picture Zach Galifianakis's beard and self-degrading-comedy blended together with the satirical country lyrics and guitar prowess of Brad Paisley.
He shook his butt - adding that his manager told him he needed more sex appeal - and was humorously flamboyant with his guitar playing technique. "I'm killin' it up here," he said in a thick country accent. We had no idea that Ohioans had that kind of drawl.
Mayfield usually performs with his band, but he was traveling solo with his family for his performances in New Orleans and Houston. He played songs about love, reminiscing about a time when he stalked his ex girlfriend, and other story-telling ballads with laughable lyrics. He also covered a country classic, "Sea of Heartbreak", by Don Gibson.
Before he sang his second to last song, he let the crowd know: "This song finally made it to No. 1.....on my dad's YouTube favorites. It took a while to beat the homeless guy with the good announcer voice, but I made it."
By the end of Mayfield's set, everyone in the crowd wanted to hang out with him. Shit, we almost wanted to buy him a Lone Star, but we wanted to see what his lil' sis was all about, of course.
Our first impression: She looks like a tiny, hipster pixie. Short, platinum-blonde hair, black dress, deer in the headlight demeanor-she's almost annoyingly bashful. Her soft speaking voice doesn't match up to the strong, clear, country-twanged voice we heard once she started performing.
It was as if once the music stopped, she quit being a country star flirting with the band and reverted to an awkward high school girl without a country accent. Nonetheless, whichever she decided to be, it worked.
The band opened with "Trouble" from Tell Me, followed by "Kiss Me Again" from her previous, more stripped-down record, With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Both records are full of love songs possibly written from a complex relationship with a standoffish but loving partner.
We couldn't help thinking she was strumming our pain with her fingers and singing our life with her words. The way she expresses her insecurities through triumphs and fuck ups makes it hard to believe she's only 21.
Her band is funny too; it seems everyone in the Mayfield camp has a good personality and can have fun together in a way w they can still incorporate their audience. The guitarist almost stole the show away from Miss Mayfield with his stage antics and expressive gestures.
Mayfield ended each song by timidly saying "Thaaaa-nk yew" the same way: looking down at the floor or to the side of the stage. She let the band take a quick break and brought David back to the stage so they could sing "River of Jordan," facing eachother and singing dual harmony just like the Louvin Brothers.
After the band came back onstage, Mayfield made sure to interact with an audience member in the front who was celebrating a birthday; she asked what she'd done for her special day and then took a picture of her from the stage. A few males in the crowd shouted, "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY TOO!!!"
Mayfield dedicated "the most awkward song off the whole record" to the birthday girl, since she didn't know how to play "Happy Birthday" on the guitar.
The set ended promptly at midnight with the song we expected it to end with, "Our Hearts Are Wrong." It's a great song, super-catchy - we even played it for our mom, who was digging it. Hipster-country-farm-girl, you have officially made it into the country world via Patricia's approval.
Personal Bias: Overall, it was an enjoyable show. Yeah.
The Crowd: Polo to pearl snap ratio was about 2:1.
Overheard in The Crowd: "1975 Canon, I keep it analog. Classic Andy Warhol shot right here."
Random Notebook Dump: "Fluoridation, Militarization of police during drug war of Reagan Administration." Our apologies - in between sets we were taking notes for an upcoming thesis paper, so that's as far as our notebook "dump" goes.
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