‘Unorthodox style’: Legally blind musician breaks onto the Truckee music scene
Though legally blind since age 5, Lynelle Tyler is hoping to navigate Truckee’s music scene with a style all her own.
A musician since she was 7, when her grandfather sent away for a harmonica he saw on the back of a Good & Plenty box, Tyler quickly discovered that she had a natural affinity for learning instruments.
After teaching herself the harmonica, Tyler turned to the drums at age 11, and then to the guitar at age 16 when she was confined to her bed for a couple of weeks while recovering from an injury.
“I became able to play a lot of instruments because of my vision,” Tyler said. “A lot of things weren’t available to me like after-school sports because, for liability reasons, they wouldn’t let me play sports. So I would just sit at home and figure out instruments.”
Currently she plays the banjo, bass, synthesizer, drums, guitar and harmonica, all of which she uses to accompany her often humorous vocals, both in the recording studio and at her live gigs.
Tyler has been performing professionally since 1990, “making hundreds of dollars a year,” she joked.
Her first gigs were in Santa Cruz at local bars, clubs and restaurants. During that period she also performed at a number of festivals and on public radio shows throughout California.
Tyler has released three CDs, all of them self produced. Her first, “I’m Not Lost I Just Don’t Know Where I’m Going,” was immediately picked up by Lady Slipper Music for distribution, while her second, “Toe Tappers and Knee Slappers,” is a children’s album crafted from songs she wrote for her niece.
On all of her recordings, Tyler plays all of the instruments and does all of the recording and mixing from her own home studio.
Tyler describes her musical style as unusual due to her self-taught method. “I play in a completely unorthodox style,” she said. “I think it’s sort of a folk-blues kind of thing, with sort of a honky-tonk rhythmic thing happening.”
Folks at one of Tyler’s shows can expect to hear a number of her own original songs such as the “Prozac Blues,” as well as a mix of audience favorites that invite sing-alongs.
Many of Tyler’s songs offer a humorous look at relatively ordinary subjects.
“Where the humor came from was I don’t know if the audience is listening or not,” Tyler said, speaking of her vision, “and I know that if I get a response from laughter, then they’re listening.”
Joining Tyler on stage at all of her gigs is Dobie, her guide dog of six years and “the ultimate crowd-pleaser.”
“When we played at the Blue Coyote, he just took his position on stage and he just laid there and was good for a couple of songs, but because I sing in the choir and he comes with me, he knows people who walked in the door. And then when the women’s barbershop group came in to see my performance, he recognized everybody, and he goes running around the restaurant just visiting with people.”
Currently Tyler is writing and recording songs for her next CD as well as preparing for the summer concert season around town.
Folks wanting to hear Lynelle Tyler live in concert can check out her show this evening at Cottonwood Restaurant at 7 p.m. For reservations call 587-5711.
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