Not many 28-year-olds can say they've spent more than half their life as a professional musician.
David Mayfield can. Listeners will hear the broad range of music he's absorbed and made his own along the way during his show tonight at the Venue at Abode.
"I grew up playing in a family band with my mom, dad and two sisters," Mayfield said in an interview from Fort Smith, Ark., a stop on his current tour. "We hit the road professionally when I was 13. The family was home-schooled. We just toured the country. That's what our whole family did for a living."
Originally from Kent, Ohio, the Mayfield family band played bluegrass, with David on stand-up bass. He picked up guitar and mandolin and won several national awards on them.
The Mayfields moved to Nashville when David was 16. They eventually returned to Ohio, but David made his way back to Nashville, supporting himself as a sideman in country music bands. He got another taste of the road and Grand Ole Opry stage with Andy Griggs, who had a string of hits in the late 1990s.
Mayfield then toured with his sister, Jessica Lee Mayfield, meeting folk-rock stars the Avett Brothers, with whom he has collaborated and performed.
He performed with another band, Cadillac Sky, before recording a CD, "The David Mayfield Parade," last year. That's also the name of the group he's touring with now, which includes Kristin Weber on violin, Sarah Silva on keyboards, Joe Giotta on drums and Wes Langlois on steel guitar and bass. All sing.
Mayfield said it was the Avett Brothers who gave him confidence in his abilities as a songwriter and frontman.
"I'd always been the sideman," he said. "We were hanging out, and I started playing some of my own songs, and they really encouraged me to do my own thing with my music."
Mayfield said he writes about things that happen to him, good or bad, and decides later whether the song is any good.
"I've always been a fan of confessional songs that still have an accessibility, so I love things like Simon and Garfunkel and Randy Newman, where it's not just stream-of-consciousness singer-songwriter music, there's a note of rock or pop. But it comes from a very personal place."
But don't expect a mellow, feel-my-pain show at Abode. On the contrary, Mayfield has a reputation as an enthusiastic performer, not afraid to engage in what he calls "goofy stuff."
Asked about the name of his band, he said, "It kind of goes along with the concept I have for the show, where it's less about just a bunch of people standing around playing a song and more about creating moments. There's comedy and different styles of music. We go into bluegrass moments. We do a capella stuff and blues. It's just a parade of different genres and styles. Somehow it all seems to work together."
Mayfield is also a producer, last year snagging a Grammy nomination for best Southern gospel record for work he did for an old friend, Barry Scott. Looking ahead, he can see a time when playing 200 dates a year isn't as much fun and producing is his main gig.
But for now, he's enjoying this tour. All the work he's done as a sideman, opening act, producer and collaborator seems to be paving the way.
"I'm really surprised that as we go to all these places there are fans already there, even though it's our first show."
The Stitch Miller Band and Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy will open for Mayfield. The concert is being presented by the Kansas Acoustic Arts Association.
If you go
david mayfield parade
Where: Venue at Abode, 1330 E. Douglas
When: 7 p.m. Friday
How much: $15 at the door, $10 for Kansas Acoustic Arts Association members
For more information, visit thedavidmayfieldparade.com.