Tut Taylor Interview
Q: How did you start music? TT: I started playing mandolin at 12. My mother played violin and my father played banjo and my two brothers played guitar. We lived in Georgia Q: You played in a band? TT: No, I did not get to jam much. My father played alone. I did play with my brothers a little. Q: When did you start playing as a professional? TT: My first job was to play for John Hartford. I really enjoyed it but John was not too keen on it because he felt we couldn't make our living by playing Dobro. Q: When was that? TT: IN 1970, in Nashville Q: Were you involved in GTR (a music store co-owned by Taylor and G Gruhn) at that time? TT: Yes, George and I started GTR in 1970, too. The band was right after that Q: And you've been performing solo ever since? TT: I've been making albums since 1962 but it was more of my hobby than a professional activity. My first album was "Twelve String Dobro". There was a club named "Ash Grove" in Los Angeles and they decided to release records. It was right after I invented the 12 string Dobro so they asked me to be the first to release an album. Q: Is the 12- string Dobro similar to the 12 string acoustic guitar? TT: Yes, I made the whole thing myself. Actually, I only made the wider neck and a new bridge. A few years later, I did a Dobro country album. I did about five six albums all together. I'm doing it since it's so fun
Q: And that's how you got the Grammy Award! [Janet - when and for what did he get the Award?] TT: It felt strange. I'm trying not to forget to have fun even though I got the Grammy. I've been playing bluegrass for almost one hundred years and I've seen so many things but always thought the Grammy was from a different world. It just feels strange. They sent me the tickets but did not pay for the airfare so I did not feel like going I'm glad that the Award brought some attention to bluegrass music. I don't think Jerry (Douglas) was expecting to receive the award either. People may think that other bluegrass players should've received the award and I also feel that way. On the other hand, the record company pointed out that the award was given to the process of gathering so many great musicians to make that album and those players deserved some recognition. SO I guess it's OK. I have a great deal of respect to Bill Monroe. Without him, there wouldn't be bluegrass music as we know of today. He tried so many things to popularize the music. I'm trying to associate myself with many kinds of music, not just bluegrass. Q: Your picking style is very unique TT: Yes. When I was a kid, a nail went into my hand with bad infection and I have to have a part [of his hand - I think it's his right hand, I can see a long scar at the web between the thumb and index finger] removed. So I cannot grab with my hand. There are some things I cannot do but I also think I play with "edge" [edgy feel?]. I could not play some tunes because of my hand, so I ended up writing my own tunes. Q: Is this bar commercially available or you invented it? TT: This is an old Stevens bar. I used to use this a lot n my old stuff and I call it "Stevens Steel" Q: How did you get interested in Dobro? TT: It's Roy Acuff. Just like anyone else, I couldn't figure out what he was doing so I wrote to him about the instrument he played. He wrote me back on a one-cent postcard, saying it was a Dobro. So I rushed to a bookstore, mind you there wasn't any music stores back then, and I looked for a catalog. I couldn't even find one and I got one a few years later. Before I got one, however, I had an electric steel which had the same tuning so I was able to play Dobro immediately. Q: What tuning do you use? TT: I play G by lowering one full note [Janet - help!] Q: You're making Dobro at Rich and Taylor? TT: We felt that the quality of Dobro guitars were deteriorating over the years and decided to build some on our own. If Pearce were alive [who?], I wouldn't be making it. I don't like looks of some of the newer ones. Q: What do you think about younger players like Jerry Douglas TT: Very enjoyable I really like Jerry since he absorbed so many different elements into his music. If he weren't around, there'd be many people who don't know what Dobro is. I learned a few things from him. I'd say Jerry is the inventor of new Dobro sound.