George Shuffler, Maybelle Carter, Ricky Lee, Keith Whitley
Larry Sparks, Earl Scruggs, Tony Rice, Tim Stafford
Favorite Flatpicking Tunes
Soldier's Joy, Little Rosewood Casket, Salt Creek, Twilight Swamp, Half Moon Bay, Tom's Creek, Faded Love
1946 D-28 Martin, Huss & Dalton "James Alan Shelton Signature Model", 1956 D-28 Martin
Tell us more about yourself (place a Bio here if you wish)
For generations of American boys raised in the cities and suburbs, the ultimate dream and fantasy has been to become a professional athlete and play for the hometown team. For James Alan Shelton, the musical version of that dream came true in 1994 when he signed on as the lead guitar player for the most legendary bluegrass bands, Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys.
Born in Kingsport, Tenn. and raised on a tobacco farm across the state line near Gate City, Virginia in Scott County, Shelton grew up steeped in the music of the Stanley Brothers, The Carter Family, Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe. As a matter of fact, he was raised within about fifteen miles of the homeplace of A. P. Carter. At age twelve, his maternal grandfather taught him his first licks on guitar and he also began learning the banjo a year later. Like many young guitar pickers, Shelton had become fascinated by the deceptively complex "cross-picking" guitar style developed by North Carolina native George Shuffler, who worked with the Stanley Brothers in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Now 48 and living with his wife Greta in Church Hill, Tenn., just a few miles from his birthplace, Shelton's lifelong love of bluegrass and country music has given him not only the opportunity to perform and record with Stanley, but also to record and release projects outside the band, such as his new solo release “Walking Down The Line” on his own Sheltone label. His last solo project, “Half Moon Bay” on Rebel Records, was nominated for Best Instrumental Album Of The Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2005.
In contrast to some of his guitar peers who seemingly, at times, view the melody as "marker notes" to squeeze as many notes as possible between, Shelton's melody oriented playing emphasizes his love and respect for the way a tune is supposed to sound. He also strives for a rich, full tone on his guitar. His main performing instruments are a 1946 D-28 Martin “Herringbone” and a custom built “James Alan Shelton” signature series guitar built by Huss & Dalton Guitars in Staunton, Virginia.
In describing his own style Shelton stated in a 2002 interview with John Lupton for Country Standard Time, "I've tried to take a lot of things that I've learned from a lot of people and meld them into my own way of playing. I can't play just like George Shuffler, and I can't play like Tony Rice, Earl Scruggs,or Maybelle Carter or whoever. But I can take little things I've learned from all of them and put them together with my own ideas and try to come up with my sound, the way I hear it in my head and the way I feel it."
In his thirteen years and counting with Ralph Stanley's band, Shelton has become much more than the guitar player. For nearly 50 years, Stanley had handled virtually all of the band's business affairs, and it serves as an impressive vote of trust and confidence that for several years, he turned over most of the chores of booking, publicity and road management to Shelton. Although Stanley is now booked by a Nashville based agency, James Alan Shelton continues as guitarist, road manager and ambassador for the band as they travel abroad, bringing their old-time mountain style of bluegrass music to fans all over the world.
You're a hero! I'm still trying to play the tunes on your Clinch Mountain Guitar video! It's fantastic! It's one of those instructional videos I can never pass on. Every time I go back to study it another deeper level appears. All guitar players should have this video.
Thanks for the great music!
Maybe it sounds unbelievable but there is a Bluegrass band in the Middle Europe that is keen in playing Stanley Sound – The LOG. Some of us met with Dr. Ralph Stanley in England. I myself try to play the Lead Guitar – Shuffler’s style. I admire your right hand work and powerful sound of your guitar. Many achievements to all members of The Clinch Mountain Boys.
Nice new photos from you. I have a question: What mark of guitar is George Shuffler holding on your photo? It sounds excellent (similar to Goodall guitars) on youtube when George is introducing crosspicking.
JAMES, CAN I BUY THE CLINCH MOUNTIAN GUITAR VIDEO FROM YOU? OR FROM THE FLATPICKING MERCANTILE CATALOG.
I SAW YOU AT THE FESTIVAL IN MAY AT COEBURN.
SURE DID INJOY IT AND TO SEE GEORGE FOR THE FIRST.
KEEP PLAYING THE GOOD MUSIC AND WILL SEE YOU AT THE FESTIVAL NEXT YEAR. I PLAY GUITAR, MY HUSBAND PLAYS BANGO.
LOOKING FOREWORD TO SEEING ALL THE BAND AT FESTIVAL NEXT MOMTH.DO YOU SELL YOUR MERCHANDISE AT THIS FESTIVAL?
IASKED FOR YOUR ADDRESS AND HAVE YET TO ORDER.
HOPE TO FIND IT NEXT MONTH AT THE FESTIVAL
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