Fields, 68, picked up a mandolin when he was about 4. He grew up in a family of 12 with the boys and his parents all musically gifted. His father played banjo, his mother on organ and harmonica, one brother on banjo and another on fiddle.
"There was no TV back then and we did our own entertainment," Fields says.
Fields earned his living working in plumbing and heating mostly in Massachusetts, but the Lincoln County native returned to Kings Mountain in 1979 with his wife, Patricia. Now all three of their children live near them. He started playing music with Bentley in 1995 and they saw quite a bit of action before disbanding in the fall of 2006.
"We played all over the state and pretty much all over the country," Fields says of the group that produced four compact discs.
Music never failed to relax Fields.
"I could be tired and stressed out and when I get done, I feel like I've had a good night's rest."
The part of his life that brought such satisfaction almost was lost in January when an accident with a table saw resulted in Fields losing two fingers from his left hand. He and his wife are building a house near Kings Mountain and Fields needed some thin pieces of wood to place between boards to help them dry out. He needed to make one more cut.
"The board I was cutting had a split in it and it caught and when it did, it came right across my hand," he says, looking down at the absent fingers.
He and his wife wrapped one of the fingers in a towel and drove to the hospital in Danville.
He quickly was transferred to Jewish Hand Center in Louisville.
"They spent five hours on one finger to try to give me a pincher," he says. The surgery was unsuccessful and the finger was removed.
Fields says he didn't dwell on the accident's effect on his music. "I had resigned myself to learning to play left-handed."
Fields, who had owned Fields Brothers saw mill in Kings Mountain, had not tried to adapt because he was too busy trying to continue his work on the house where he hopes to be settled by Thanksgiving. A visit from Bentley's dad in mid-May was when he finally picked an instrument up again. He discovered he could still deliver a tune.
"I still play all the melody notes, but I play with one finger," he says, noting it's a little easier when he plays dobro or upright bass because he uses a bar that covers all the strings.
Chords require using two to four fingers, says Fields, who had played the lead instrument in the band. "That sort of leaves me short."
After discovering that he could play, Fields is back to testing the instruments produced in Bentley's shop. They're experimenting with making instruments of different thicknesses from locally-grown wood. Fields explains that the wood that produces the best sound, usually spruce, is not grown locally.
"The closest thing we have to spruce is in the pine family. What we look for in the tops of the instruments is the close growth rings. That means that wood is grown in the colder climates with shorter growing seasons."
So far, the musicians think they're doing a pretty good job. Fields especially likes the mandolin he made four years ago and the fact that despite his accident, he still can pluck it.
"I'm a firm believer in the black walnut. It really gives a good tone. It has a more mellow sound."