Video: “I Don’t Need Her Love


Scott Mulvahill, along with Liz Longley and Billy Crockett, will be featured at Christmas at Blue Rock for the final Cool Nights 21 livestreaming concert series—this Thursday and Friday, December 16-17.

Scott Mulvahill has left his unique mark on the intersecting worlds of Americana, bluegrass, folk, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and roots music. He is acclaimed for his work alongside icons like Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby. Encouraged by musical mentor Hornsby, Mulvahill developed a unique approach to his songwriting—one that mixed his chops as an upright bassist with hook-heavy melodies and compelling narratives.

“For years, I had a split personality to my music career,” says Mulvahill “I was known as a bass player but I was also a singer-songwriter.” He recently toured with multi-Grammy winner Lauren Daigle, did an NPR Tiny Desk concert and performed on the Mountain Stage radio show. He has found a way to combine those two worlds in his new music.

Scott Mulvahill’s upright bass playing is all about tone, his arrangements are creative, complex and fun, and his songwriting opens up the landscape to let the listeners’ imagination soar—while inviting them to dare to dream.

Check out the livestream this Thursday and Friday, December 16-17, at Blue Rock Texas— where innovation, quality and creativity are evidenced in concerts produced with broadcast quality audio-video from their renowned Texas room—streamed straight to you. Tickets are $25. Season Passholders ($105) have a literal seat in the house—they place your headshot on a seat, so you are literally sitting in the room. Go to:

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

Tell us about a song you plan to play at Blue Rock’s Cool Nights 21 (for your Dec 16-17 performances).
It’s not my song, but I’m excited to play my cover of Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home.” I first fell in love with a live version of that song, which has the most insane arrangement and killer harmonica solo by Howard Levy. Eventually, I recorded a version to pay tribute to it and I put it out last year. Chris Rodriguez is an amazing guitarist who has played with Loggins for years. I had Chris play on my version because I wanted that connection. I play a little harmonica, and it was fun to try to play that solo. I haven’t gotten to perform this song much since then. I’m looking forward to playing the song live.

How did the idea of “Say I Love You” come to you?
When I wrote that song, I had several sets of people in mind—friends of mine, people I had been close to in the past. Relationships are hard and that song is just about staying vulnerable when it’s difficult, and choosing to believe in people. I wrote the initial idea and finished it with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Ben Shive, who are phenomenal musicians and writers.

Are Surrounded and Creative Potential your two most recent EPs?
They came out some months apart online, but I just put them together on a vinyl record, side A and side B, which makes for a cool listen. One song that barely made it onto the album is called “The Here and the Now.” It’s a gorgeous tune that I knew belonged on the Surrounded EP. I couldn’t hear it on a different project but I wanted to release it. So I arranged the strings in about a day and recorded it immediately—to get it in on time.

Scott Mulvahill’s upright bass playing is all about tone, his arrangements are creative, complex and fun, and his songwriting opens up the landscape to let the listeners’ imagination soar—while inviting them to dare to dream.

What did you learn about yourself after recording these EPs?
As you listen to those projects, you’ll notice they’re very different. So the whole thing was an exercise in where I could take my sound. The songs all serve different purposes. Creative Potential is very bouncy and groovy, while Surrounded is more beauty-oriented and introspective—a little darker, overall. It’s not exactly Jekyll and Hyde, but it has different sides of my artistry. Going to all those places makes an interesting ride for the listener. It will help me find the center for my next albums.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
When I was just starting to write songs, I got into a huge Jack White/White Stripes kick. I don’t think you’d necessarily pick up on that in the music I do now, but those are very brave recordings and songs. The unabashed-ness drew me in.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Just keep writing and finish a ton of songs. Your voice will emerge. I write consistently, just to keep the muscles in shape.

Tell us about a song you do in almost all your live performances.
“Begin Againers” pretty much shows up every time. Part of that is just the way it feels and grooves, but it’s also the message of new beginnings and fresh starts. It feels like a good way to kick things off, and I think most people can get into the message and feel the need for it.

How did the idea for “Begin Againers” come to you?
The song actually started out with lyrics. In 2015, I had my notebook out on a plane ride—when I was in Ricky Skaggs’ band. I wrote the lyrics and had this bass line. They were independent from each other. I was in my friend’s basement in Washington DC and I had the idea of joining the lyrics with the bass. I finished the song that night and performed it either that night or the next—at that songwriter in the round.

Tell us how the idea of the beautifully powerful “Himalayas” came to you.
I wrote “Himalayas” a long time ago. I was actually in the mountains in Colorado, so not quite the Himalayas, but I came up with the chorus lyric there, and wrote the rest of it a bit later. I always loved it, and knew I wanted to finish the song. The mountains are so grand and they just call to you. They made a good metaphor for finding yourself in adventure. Himalayas is like a mission statement of who I am—captured in a song.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
My own voice, hands and brain; but I do love my 1950 Kay bass. Last week, I got a very nice Gibson J-45 guitar that I’d fallen for while producing a musician in England. I love to sing live through a Neumann KMS 104. Every session I do on an electric bass is with my ’73 Precision Bass. I really try not to be too precious about instruments. They are important but the musician makes the music, not the instrument.

Tell us what’s unique about your upright bass.
I have a 1950 Kay bass. My friend Randy Hunt, an incredible luthier, did the conversion for me. When he rebuilt it with a new neck, he bolted the neck so I could remove it easily. Most uprights have set necks—and that makes sense if you’re not trying to fly with it. But mine comes apart and I put it into two cases so that I can fly with it. There are companies that make a folding bass—a travel collapsible bass, but this one is a regular body and wonderfully unique.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?
Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, Ray Charles, Victor Wooten and Charlie Lair—my teacher when I was young. I also love Charlie Haden. When I was in college, I listened to him a lot. He was instrumental to my style now because he could do so much with such few notes. He’s a tone guy. It wasn’t about flash or showing off chops—which he definitely has. It was all about tone—about producing a feeling more than how many notes you can play. Any music lover, not just a bass player, can listen to music that emphasizes tone. I have a slight connection to him. I used to sing a song, “20/20 Vision,” in Ricky Skaggs’ band. I even recorded it on my album. Skaggs toured with Bruce Hornsby and Hornsby recorded with Charlie Haden (Rambling Boy album). We used to play that song live and Bruce told about that bass line and said to just try it and have fun with it. Then, one time in 2014, we were on the bus and Bruce pulled me aside and said “I’m on the phone with Charlie [Haden].” So I got a chance to talk with Charlie and tell him he was my inspiration.

What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Graceland (1986) — Paul Simon
Grace (1994) — Jeff Buckley
Elephant (2003) — White Stripes
Icky Thump (2007) — White Stripes
A Show of Hands (1996) — Victor Wooten
Blue (1971) — Joni Mitchell

What is the best advice someone has given you?
Bruce Hornsby said to really dig down and find a sound and style that was my own, and not settle for copying other people.

Best advice you’d like to give upcoming musicians?
Along a similar line—I would tell them, “You are enough, and the good stuff is in there. You’ll probably have to work really hard to unearth it, but it is in there and no one, no one, can tell you that it’s not.”

What unique about playing at Blue Rock?
It’s an amazing space with top-of-the-line gear—microphone choices and the Neve desk that’s incredibly rare. Not only the really cool pieces of equipment, but Billy and Dodee and their commitment—make it a special place. The location is in an area that I used to go on vacation as a kid and I spent so many summers out in the hill country with that magical landscape. Being in that environment—looking out the back into the gorge—is truly beautiful.

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!
I used to play in Ricky Skaggs’ bluegrass band, Kentucky Thunder, which is a world-class group of musicians. I was in the band for five years, and that was its own pinch me moment. It gave me a lot of opportunities. Probably the most fun was touring with Ricky and Bruce Hornsby—those shows were some of the most fun I’ve ever had on stage.

How do you stay hopeful in this unique socio-political climate?
It’s been tough. Even people who consider themselves optimistic, need to figure out a way to keep things fresh and alive. I have to believe that given the evidence from daily life, rather than the news, that people are genuinely good, they’re trying to do their best and trying to do good to the people around them. There are obviously exceptions to that, but most people are cool. If you notice that simple fact, it gives you hope. From a spiritual side of things, I do have faith. I believe we are taken care of. Thankfully, it’s not all up to us. And all that helps. It’s all in how you look at things. If you look at the bad, you can lose your mind. What do we choose to focus on? Some may say there are as many good things as bad. I believe there is more good than bad. We just have to choose to look at the good.

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