Scott Mulvahill has been trying to win the Tiny Desk Contest for each of its four years. He’s always been one of our favorites, though he’s never been our winner. The double bassist entered his song, “Begin Againers” in 2016 and though it wasn’t the winning entry, we all loved it so much, I invited him to my desk to perform his extraordinary song. He opened the Tiny Desk with it, only this time he was joined by bandmates Jesse Isley and Josh Shilling who shared vocal harmonies.
Scott Mulvahill honed his craft touring with the great bluegrass mandolin player Ricky Skaggs. “Playing bluegrass with him is like playing jazz with Miles Davis,” Scott told the Tiny Desk crowd.
Each of the three tunes Scott Mulvahill played represents different aspects of his creative spirit. He challenges himself to find ways to use the bass as a solo instrument, but its most common role is to accompany others. So he brought his band along for his most rollicking song, “Gold Plated Lie.” There’s a bit of Jackson Browne in his voice and a bit of Paul Simon shows through in his self-reflective words.
For the final tune, the title track from his self-released and current album Himalayas, Scott Mulvahill goes solo, brings out a bow for that bass and we hear a spaciousness I don’t often find in the Nashville world he inhabits. This is a perfect introduction to an artist with enormous talent and an artist seeking to stretch his musical world.
- “Gold Plated Lie”
Scott Mulvahill: bass, vocals; Terence Clark: drums; Jesse Isley: guitar, vocals; Josh Shilling: keys, vocals; Gabe Scott: dobro
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kimani Oletu, Kara Frame; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Adelaide Sandstrom; Photo: Amr Alfiky/NPR