Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Southern singer stays true to his roots

Lying in his bed as a child, Matthew Mayfield could hear his father strumming classics such as The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” through the walls of his Birmingham home.

“My dad used to sing and play the guitar around the house quite a bit,” Mayfield said. “I never understood why, but I would always cry. A great melody is a very powerful thing, I suppose.”

Mayfield is no stranger to Tuscaloosa. He celebrated his 21st birthday at 4th and 23rd, dodged a fight with a wasted heckler at The Booth and received a history lesson from Will Hoge behind the bar formerly known as the Jupiter.

“I’ve had some great times in T-town,” he said.

Although most of Mayfield’s local gigs were played while he was frontman for the now-split band Moses Mayfield, he is returning to Tuscaloosa as a solo independent artist to headline this year’s Druid City Arts Festival.

Creative Campus held the first annual Druid City Arts Festival last year, and the event drew more than 3,000 people.

“Every festival is different,” Mayfield said. “I’ve played to three people, one of which was asleep on an air mattress, and I’ve played to 30,000 in front of Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

Mayfield has had two songs featured on Grey’s Anatomy, and reached number one on iTunes’ singer/songwriter charts a few times. He received much publicity from the now-defunct Birmingham adult alternative radio station Live 100.5, and he gained many fans from offering a free download from each of his EPs.

“The Grey’s Anatomy placements were pretty encouraging,” he said. “But I try to focus on what’s next.”

Mayfield has recorded five EPs since 2008, and is anticipating the release of his first full solo album while he is on tour this spring. He will be in Atlanta for the April 5 release of “Now You’re Free,” which he says is a more hopeful departure from the lyrics in his previous work.

“I may only sell two copies, one to my mother and one to her friends, but it’s everything I want it to be,” he said. “It feels so good to hold this record in my hands.”

Even though he’s currently listening to a mix of the Smashing Pumpkins, Eminem, Jonsi and Led Zeppelin, Mayfield said his musical roots run deep, fueled by being brought up in the South. The Alabamian in Mayfield is evident in his folk/rock EPs, especially in his skilled lyricism.

“It’s impossible for your roots not to creep up into your sound,” he said. “I’ve always been a homebody, and I’ve always loved the South.”

Mayfield said he prefers to be away from the bustle of the city and revels in the stillness of being able to step outside to have a smoke without hearing a car horn.

“I don’t like the rat race,” he said. “I do my best writing where I can breathe – usually around a lake or near my place.”

Mayfield resides in a quieter area of Birmingham. He said being a homebody can create an uncomfortable touring experience.

“It’s certainly not the best trait when you’re a part of a traveling circus,” he said. “But it can make time off a little sweeter.”

He said it’s difficult to have down time as an independent artist, but when he does he likes to remove himself completely.

“No phone or Internet access,” he said. “Preferably with friends, family and beer. It sounds like a bad Alan Jackson song.”

Mayfield won’t have much time in the upcoming months to take himself off the grid because after recording his album eight months ago, he’s eager to release it.

“I keep climbing the ladder so I can afford to put on the shows I’ve always dreamed of putting on,” he said.

Matthew Mayfield will perform at the daylong festival on Saturday, March 26 in Tuscaloosa’s Government Plaza.


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