The man who gave the flatpick a new voice...
It all began near the banks of the muddy Oconee River in Georgia about the time of the second World War. A young Tut Taylor, who didn't know any better, taught himself to play a dobro with a flatpick. The resulting sound was fresh and unique, and it became Tut's trademark. Folks called him the "flatpickin' dobro man". Through the years he became one of bluegrass music's most appreciated musicians for his contributions to the music, both on and off the stage.
Having recorded or performed for decades with many other legends in bluegrass and country music, Tut is a rich source of historical information and anecdotes on the formative years of Bluegrass music, the growth of the music industry in Nashville, and the people that made it happen. From his association with great musicians such as Norman Blake, Roland and Clarence White, John Hartford, and Vassar Clements, to playing in Roy Acuff's band on the last performance of the "Grand Ol' Opry" at the Ryman Auditorium, to opening doors for a young fiddler named Mark O'Connor on his first trip to Nashville, to his involvement with the Grammy-winning recording "The Great Dobro Sessions", Tut has been in the thick of bluegrass, old-time, and country music history for a long time.
Today, in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains of North Carolina, the sweet sound of Tut's flatpicked dobro still resonates, catching the ear of a new generation of pickers. His insight into the music he loves has endeared him to many new fans who appreciate what he has to say as well as what he has to pick. He is often asked about the future of bluegrass and old-time music and his answer is usually along the lines of "Just pick it and keep on picking it." And that's his philosophy in a nutshell - just pick it, just let people hear it and come to love it, and the music will take care of itself.
If he can ever break away from pickin' for a while, Tut will be adding some of his stories and personal photos on this website so that we can enjoy some of the rich musical history he has seen firsthand. In the meantime, here is a little background information on "The Flat Pickin' Dobro Man" himself, Robert A. "Tut" Taylor.
"Tut has always been there, right in the middle of things" - Norman Blake
with two friends, Norman Blake and Curtis Burch
The Early Years
Tut taught himself to play the dobro. However, he didn't know that dobros were normally fingerpicked. He thought it was played with a flatpick, so that's how he learned to play. But he soon learned that he could hardly play tunes like the others that were playing with fingerpicks so he developed his own style and then wrote the tunes and arrangements to suit his flatpicking style.
"Tut Taylor" model Crafters of Tennessee resophonic guitars
with three of his rarest dobros, a Model 206 and two custom dobros with
A Few High Points
Later, Tut recorded other albums like "12 String Dobro", "Friar Tut", "The Old Post Office", a "Flat Picking Dobro" instruction LP with a book to go with it, and "Dobro Country " with Clarence and Roland White, among other recordings. After moving to Nashville in 1970 he bought the old Grammer Guitar factory.
In the early 70's Tut met other Nashville newcomers John Hartford, Norman Blake, and Vassar Clements. One night at a jam session they all decided to form a band. They called themselves the "Aereo-plain Band.", went on to record the "Aereo-plain" album for Warner Brothers, and performed together for about a year all over the country. They even performed with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, the Houston Symphony and the Milwaukee Symphony.
All during this time Tut was recording other albums in the studio (see discography) as well as just about everything else he was involved in, including late night kitchen jam sessions. His personal tape archives from these years number in the hundreds of tapes going back past the time of the first two dobro albums and include many well known musicians.
Tut has also been a successful producer. He produced Norman's, Brother Oswald's and his own albums for Rounder. Then, in 1994, Tut, along with Jerry Douglas produced the classic album "The Great Dobro Sessions" for which they were presented a Grammy for the Best Bluegrass Album of the Year and, in addition, IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year and Instrumental Recording of the Year.
awarded to Tut Taylor and Jerry Douglas
Tut, Jerry Douglas and Sally VanMeter at the Dobrofest in Trnava, Slovakia
In 1996, Tut was awarded the coveted Dobro Player of the Year award by the City of Trnava, Slovakia at the DobroFest Festival held in that city each year to honor the Dopyera Brothers for their contribution of the wonderful instrument, the Dobro, to America.
Tut with Ed Dopyera, one of the five brothers
Through the years Tut has crossed career paths with of some of the greatest musicians around. For example, this is how he helped Mark O'Connor get a foot in the door when he first came to Nashville as a very young but phenomenal fiddler.
Roy was so impressed with this young fiddler that he brought Mark and his fiddle to the stage of the Grand Ol' Opry just a few nights later.
These days Tut stays busy picking at festivals, conferences and venues close to home. But he has also taken time to do some new recording, too. Check out his recent release "Flash Flood" in the Tut Taylor General Store featuring Tut with a whole bunch of great pickers. Rounder Records has also re-released on CD "Friar Tut", the recording of which he is most proud. Originally recorded in the early '70's, this album features Tut along with his old friend Norman Blake. You can order this CD directly from Tut in the Tut Taylor General Store.
Recently, Tut decided to release a series of three CD's as Tut Taylor Archival Releases, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. The first in this series is "Flat Pickin' In The Kitchen" with Norman Blake and the second with guitar legend Clarence White is "Tut and Clarence Flatpicking". Tut had the very good fortune to have recordings in his archives of him playing the dobro with another of the very best flatpickers of all time. If everything works out you will be able to hear these recordings as well in the near future.
Tut and his "sweet wife Lee" have been happily married for over 50 years. Recently, Tut and Lee picked up roots and moved to Wilkesboro, North Carolina from their longtime home in Maryville, Tennessee. His eight children are "scattered from here to breakfast". His son Mark is well known among professional musicians for his line of hand crafted instruments, "Rich and Taylor" banjos and "Crafters of Tennessee" resophonic guitars and mandolins. Visit the "Crafters of Tennessee". website and look around.
Tut and his son, Mark Taylor
Tut also stays busy traveling all over to festivals and workshops, only stopping long enough to interject a little wit and wisdom in his favorite online discussion groups like the Flatpick-L and Bluegrass-L. Subscribers to those lists have found he is just as adept at relating how to butcher and barbeque a hog as he is with the flatpick.
In the Tut Taylor General Store on this website, Tut has a number of items available for purchase. Visit there and order what you want directly from Tut!
Ever wonder what Tut did with all the reel-to-reel recordings he has made through the years? Just visit the fine folks at the Steam Powered Preservation Society to find out!
Be sure to check out the page What's New Tut? to find out what else Tut is up to these days and where you can find him flatpickin' his dobro. Or if you want, you can drop him a line by clicking here or you can leave him a message in his guestbook.
Tut On The Web
Here are some links to Tut on other websites:http://www.countryworks.com/artist_full.asp?KEY=TAYLORT
" Remember, Tut spelled backwards is still Tut" - Tut Taylor
Copyright 2009 R. A.