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B.F. Shelton

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Biography

B.F. (Frank) Shelton is known for four sides he recorded for Victor Records at the famous Bristol Sessions in Bristol, TN, on July 29, 1927. Three tracks ("Darling Cora," "Pretty Polly," "Oh Molly Dear") featured modal banjo tunings and an eerie, archaic sound only slightly less dark and haunting than the more famous tracks made by blues banjoist Dock Boggs in the same era. A fourth track from the session, "Cold Penitentiary Blues," may have been learned by Shelton in prison. Born in 1902 in Clay County, KY, Shelton journeyed from Corbin, KY (where he made his living as a barber) to Bristol for the sessions, sang his four songs (which have influenced many subsequent banjo players, including Pete Seeger), then never recorded again. Adept at harmonica and guitar as well as banjo, Shelton died in 1963. ~ Steve Leggett

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