No Surf Music


The No Surf Review


The Lowdown:

Jim Avett and David & Valerie Mayfield

Based In:
Concord, North Carolina and Newton Falls, Ohio



Interview Subjects:
Jim Avett, David Mayfield and Valerie Mayfield

Interview Date:
August 16, 2013

Interview Location:
Honky Tonk House Concerts, Streetsboro, Ohio

(Avett) Jim Avett and Family (2008), Tribes (2010), Second Chance (2012) (Mayfields (as One Way Rider)) Slimey River Bottom, Live From Cleveland, Guesses River, and OWR

Americana, country, bluegrass

Jim Avett



September 4, 2013



Jim Avett, David Mayfield and Valerie Mayfield

by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad


The group gathered again the day after our interview (with Avett's lead guitarist) for another performance at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland. (l-r) Ray Morton, David Mayfield, Valerie Mayfield, Jim Avett. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad, No Surf Music

If you read No Surf Music, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve got an interest in the folk tradition, how music was passed on from singer to singer and from generation to generation. This process changed very little until the invention of written music—which formalized some genres but left folk to its own devices—and then the radio—which completely revolutionized the way even the most dedicated folkies learn their songs.

But even into the modern day one place the folk tradition is still strong is within families. For those who grow up playing music as a daily part of life, it’s the one place where that person-to-person transmission method still survives as the primary method. Making music on the front porch used to be one of life’s main forms of entertainment, and while it’s fallen by the wayside as a fixture of most people’s lives in this hurried world, there are still more than a handful of households where making music with friends and family is still just what you do.

Two families where this tradition has survived are the Avetts of North Carolina and the Mayfields of Ohio. It may be members of the latest generation that have made their names on the marquees—Scott and Seth Avett, of course, are The Avett Brothers, perhaps the biggest of all Americana crossover successes, Jessica Lea Mayfield is quickly becoming a household name among indie rock fans, and David Mayfield (the younger) is an exceptionally accomplished picker, frontman for The David Mayfield Parade, and a Grammy-nominated producer—but it’s their parents who helped instill in them a love of music and gave them opportunities to flourish.

Although Jim Avett never sought out a music career, choosing to support his family on steadier work instead, he still made music an everyday part of life as his children were growing up. Following the success of his sons and after retiring himself, he’s finally jumped into music in a way he never had before, recording three albums and playing gigs all around the country instead of just within earshot of the cows.

David and Valerie Mayfield made sure their kids had a musical upbringing by making them part of their family band, One Way Rider, touring the country in an ancient bus once owned by Bill Monroe, making bluegrass an integral part of the kids’ education and giving them one of the most interesting childhood experiences anyone could ask for. They stepped back from music for a while as their children’s careers took off, but now they’re back as a duo showcasing David’s insane (and apparently genetic) guitar picking skills and the deep repertoire of songs they’ve picked up from the time they themselves were kids.

The connections between the two families are multitude, with all the later generation touring together at one point or another and now the elder Avett and Mayfields testing the waters playing shows together themselves. One of the first venues for this experiment was the Honky Tonk House Concert series in Streetsboro, Ohio, where I took the opportunity to sit down with Jim, David, and Valerie to discuss not just their own careers, but how they themselves got started in music and transmitted that passion onto their children. If you want to know how the folk tradition works in the modern age, these three are perfect examples. So now that the leaves are changing and it’s getting colder, pull a chair up to the fire, sit back, and get ready for some great stories.



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For a taste of Jim Avett, buy Second Chance on Amazon!


No Pop. No Crap. No Surf.