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Half Moon Bay

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Album Review

Anyone who has seen Ralph Stanley's fine touring band will be familiar with guitarist James Alan Shelton. Shelton's innovative method of cross-picking allows him to play lead while simultaneously never losing the rhythm. These picking skills are in abundant display on his 2004 Rebel release, Half Moon Bay, and he's joined by a number of other crack musicians, including banjoist Steve Sparkman, guitarist Tim Stafford, and fiddler Todd Meade. That means a listener can select a track like the traditional "Goodbye Liza Jane" or Bill Monroe's "Road to Columbus" and hear great instrumental work. The arrangements are pretty straightforward, usually made up of some combination of guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, and bass, meaning Half Moon Bay qualifies as bluegrass or old-time. All of these qualities would be enough to make Shelton's album a winner, but he sweetens the package with the addition of several guest vocals by John Rigsby ("Handsome Molly"), Ralph Stanley II ("Little Bennie"), Shawn Lane ("Dark As a Dungeon"), and Dan Moneyhun ("Foggy Mountain Top," "Tupelo County Jail"). Ralph Stanley himself even adds a bit of baritone to "Little Bennie." Half Moon Bay is a fine album that will meet the approval of both Shelton and Ralph Stanley fans. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr., Rovi

Customer Reviews

boss

dank!!

Biography

Born: November 3, 1960 in Kingsport, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

James Alan Shelton worked since 1994 as bluegrass master Ralph Stanley's lead guitarist in the highly respected Clinch Mountain Boys, and the multi-instrumentalist also released a handful of solo albums, beginning with Blue in the Blue Ridge in 1996. Shelton got the job with the Clinch Mountain Boys three years after he introduced himself to Stanley at a concert and declared that he'd like to work for the bluegrass banjo legend. Stanley invited him to sit in on a few songs, and Shelton was on his...
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Half Moon Bay, James Alan Shelton
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