The David Wax Museum / David Mayfield Project
- Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 8 p.m.
- The Bottleneck, 737 New Hampshire, Lawrence
- Age limit: Not available
Why do we need museums? They show us something familiar and traditional, while at the same time documenting our innovation, showing us possible directions for the future. This is the same reason we need David Wax Museum – to give us music that is somehow familiar, as if it has always existed somewhere in our cultural ether, but is at the same time undeniably fresh.
Recently anointed as Boston’s Americana Artist of the Year (2010 Boston Music Awards), the David Wax Museum has been called “pure, irresistible joy” (Bob Boilen, NPR) and hailed by TIME.com for its “virtuosic musical skill and virtuous harmonies.” It is no surprise that its acclaimed performance at the 2010 Newport Folk Festival was hailed as one of highlights of the entire weekend by NPR. The Museum fuses traditional Mexican folk with American roots and indie rock to create an utterly unique Mexo-Americana aesthetic. Combining Latin rhythms, call-and-response hollering, and donkey jawbone rattling, they have electrified audiences across the country and are “kicking up a cloud of excitement with their high-energy border-crossing sensibility” (The New Yorker).
The band’s new album, Everything Is Saved, produced by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter), has been drawing rave reviews from all corners and has propelled the band into the national spotlight. With an illustration in The New Yorker, a feature in Paste Magazine, a Daytrotter session, a nod from TIME magazine as one of the top ten acts of this year’s South by Southwest, and an appearance on NPR’s World Café, the band has quickly become “one of the hottest new indie bands around” (Better TV).
David Wax's circuitous journey from mid-Missouri to the back roads of Mexico inspires the Museum’s blend of traditional Mexican and American folk music. While attending Deep Springs College, an unconventional school that doubles as a cattle ranch, David spent his summers working in rural Mexico with the American Friends Service Committee. He finished his degree at Harvard University before heading back to the Mexican countryside to study its rich folk music tradition on a year-long fellowship. It was there that he first began blending Midwestern folk with the instruments, rhythms, lyrical themes and song structures of son mexicano.
Homeschooled by her father on a small farm in rural Virginia, Suz Slezak was reared on music -- traditional Irish, classical, old time and folk. She graduated from Wellesley College, traveled around the world on a Watson Fellowship to study textiles, and then found herself back in Boston where she met David Wax, recently returned from his Mexican travels. He convinced her to track down a donkey jawbone, a traditional percussion instrument from Veracruz, and join his band. Suz is the Museum’s anchor to American roots music and helps fashion its distinctive sound with her fiddling and harmony vocals. Since 2007, David and Suz have formed the core of the Museum.
The Museum is closely associated with many of the most innovative Americana bands active today, having toured nationally with The Avett Brothers and the Old 97’s and having shared bills with such acts as Carolina Chocolate Drops, Langhorne Slim, Ben Kweller, The Low Anthem, and Nathaniel Rateliff. Though the band is now packing clubs and theatres across the country and touring with national acts, David Wax Museum cut their teeth playing in living rooms and backyards throughout the country. In these unique settings, the band's fiery and heart-wrenching shows created an undeniable buzz and a devoted following.
Leaving the 1956 Flex tour bus David Mayfield and his family called home to start his nightly shift at the tool and die along side his father it’s easy to understand why he celebrates every performance he’s afforded.
David Mayfield is the “other” voice and lead guitarist, as well as a contributing songwriter for folk rock favorites Cadillac Sky, whose last album “Letters In The Deep” was produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) but his role as a member of the Texas by way of Nashville quintet is just one of the many musical paths this Grammy-nominated artist has journeyed.
Growing up in Kent, Ohio, David was surrounded by Bluegrass music. At the age of twelve he was playing bass for the family band, traveling from festival to festival, along with his younger sister, noted songstress, Jessica Lea Mayfield, singing and absorbing the stories and lessons taught by road hard veterans, all the while picking up tips on how to play a lick on guitar or mandolin. By the time he was a teenager, Mayfield had won several national awards for his guitar and mandolin playing and his reputation was being forged in the world of Bluegrass as a player to watch out for.
Things changed however when the family parked their bus in the heart of Country Music USA. Settling in Nashville, with the hopes of finding a steady gig that would allow for some stability, struggling to survive on music alone, David’s father took a job in a machine shop working the graveyard shift, while 16-year-old David got hired to sweep its floors. Once the last day shift worker and office staffer had left the building, voices would soar over the roar of machinery. Father and son while working to keep the family afloat, would simply sing. As if they hadn’t a care in the world. Mayfield recalls it as one of his happiest memories.
The family eventually moved back to their hometown in Ohio but David returned a few year later and after a stint of all night “gun-for-hire” gigs in the tourist filled honky-tonks that line downtown Nashville, Mayfield auditioned for country hit maker Andy Griggs. He got the gig and hit the road, eventually landing several appearances on the coveted Grand Ole Opry stage.
In 2008 when Jessica Lea Mayfield was ready to make her debut record, Blasphemy So Heartfelt, she asked David to play bass on it. He did. And over the next year he would tour as her bassist, and as a newly minted member of Cadillac Sky all while writing and performing his own songs.
That same year he produced and engineered the album “In Gods Time” for old friend Barry Scott. Much to Mayfield’s surprise and with some amusement the song went on to earn a Grammy nomination in the Southern Gospel category in 2009. His production credits continued with Among The Oak & Ash’s sophomore effort for Verve Records.
But it was while on the road with Jessica that Avett Brothers, Scott and Seth took notice of Mayfield’s musicianship and the three quickly developed a friendship, leading them to invite David to sit in with them dozens of times including their 2010 Bonnaroo & Merlefest sets. After urging him more and more to make a record of his own, when he took to the studio the Avett’s were quick to lend their voices.