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George Shuffler and James Alan Shelton

The Legacy Continues – 2000 (Copper Creek)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by George Shuffler and James Alan Shelton

Here are two generations of guitar cross-pickers, both from an unusual family known as the Clinch Mountain Boys. George Shuffler played for many years during the heyday of the Stanley Brothers career in the early '60's, while James Alan Shelton is the present picker in Ralph Stanley's current band. Shelton, a long time admirer of his predecessor's style, came to know him well during Shuffler's recent return to the Clinch Mountain Boys to fill in temporarily for ailing bassist, Jack Cooke. This recording is the fruit of that engagement.

Songs from a variety of styles such as bluegrass, blues, country, old-time and gospel are all present. Due to the instrumental nature of the recording, there is a feel of sameness throughout, but the quality precedes this. Listening becomes a joyful search for the various nuances that the players bring to each piece. The interaction between these two men in often seamless. The simple approach they apply to this session leaves nothing to the imagination, so it is clear that this is exactly as they played it. Shuffler doubles on bass, being the only studio trick employed here. Highlights include "True Life Blues," "Carter Family Medley," "Banks of the Ohio" and "Six More Miles." A wonderfully consistent, well selected addition to the annals of acoustic cross-picked guitar music.