I assume you are the same James Tyler of Early Music renown. One of the most memorable concerts I ever attended was in 1979 (I think) when you were in residence at Washington University in St. Louis and you did a half concert of early music on lute, cittern, mandolino and then the 2nd half of the program where you a ragtime program on tenor banjo with the members of the consort switching to modern instruments. I was inspired to take up the lute shortly after that-studied with Rod Stucky at the St. Louis Conservatory nearby.
I have one of your early lp recordings which I always loved. I was surprised to discover you here on the classic banjo site, although I think I did read that you studied tenor banjo with Walter Kaye Bauer. Anyway, I thought I would offer that comment.
Glad to know that you liked my CDs. Coming from you, I take that as a very high compliment indeed!
I'm afraid I haven't done much if any lute playing in about 10 or more years, but for quite a while I was quite passionate about it, and it too allowed me to do some touring that I might not have realized had I only played guitar. Trying to play the lute and guitar with nails, however, when there are so many out there doing it more authentically than I could, eventually led me to put it aside. Besides, there is only so much time and I began to get involved playing the banjo. I've even tried to play classic banjo without nails, but never liked the way it felt for me. The flesh sound is indeed warmer I think, I guess I just prefer (at this point at least) the attack and articulation I can get with a slight bit of nail. I feel that I am still a work in progress, so to speak, with my banjo playing and am always experimenting. And I've still not found an instrument that I am happy with (I always regretted the fact that I made recordings on that tin can of a CE banjo I used.) Oh well.
In any case, that year or so when you were in St. Louis and Kevin Mason, Steve Toombs, Rod Stucky were also around Washington U. I think I attended over a half dozen lute recitals that one year alone. I remember I was just out of high school and working the night shift at a factory (not being too ambitious at the time). I always skipped work whenever there was a lute concert going on and no one seemed to miss me. (I think they liked me because I was the only guy on the whole factory floor who hadn't yet been to prison). Anyway, I decided to study music in college the next year.
The Banjo Museum is brand new and is truly beautiful. I have been here now 6 months. It too is a work in progress. If you are ever in Oklahoma City, please do pay us a visit.
Did you just recently retire from USC? Are you playing classic banjo in any serious way? I was just thinking this morning, that I've often thought of reviving a Mays-Hunter or Brooks and Denton type duo partnership with someone here in the US, especially since there is so much 1st and 2nd banjo material available. Perhaps only for recording and a few choice concerts. Nevertheless, since you are someone I've always admired, I was just wondering if you might consider such a thing. My personal email is firstname.lastname@example.org