He started playing classical piano at seven, guitar at ten, and bass with a rock band around thirteen. By fourteen, he'd started recording. After graduating from high school, he went on to complete two semesters at Berklee College of Music, where he started playing old-time and bluegrass music on the mandolin.
When he returned home, eventually moving to Lyons, he joined the Front Range bluegrass scene, attending jams and learning from local players. But only recently has he started making music that is entirely his own.
This month he dropped a new album, Lost & Found, with seven airy tracks of original instrumental bluegrass songs that show his prowess as a mandolinist. The record includes jaunty, jazzy numbers, straightforward Southern-fried bluegrass, melancholy picks and plenty of Rocky Mountain improv.
While he doesn't have a band, McCarthy did call in some friends to record the album at Vermillion Road Studio in Longmont. All of the tracks have upright bass, fiddle, acoustic guitar and mandolin, and some also have a banjo or dobro.
The music itself, while squarely rooted in bluegrass, dips into a variety of styles and shows McCarthy's commitment to listening to a wide range of music.
"I wanted to have a fast, energetic tune at the beginning, but I also made sure there were moments later on that included slower, more moody elements," he explains. "Bluegrass music is the underlying inspiration for everything on the album, but I also wanted to touch on related styles that speak to me."
Hear the album at Dylan McCarthy's website.