Half Moon Bay

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/29/2004
  • Label: Rebel Records
  • UPC: 032511180926
  • Catalog Number: 111809
  • Sales rank: 127,397

Album Credits

Performance Credits
James Alan Shelton Primary Artist, Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin, Rhythm Guitar
Ralph Stanley Baritone (Vocal)
Barry Bales Bass, Double Bass
Tim Stafford Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Baritone (Vocal), Soloist
Adam Steffey Mandolin
Steve Sparkman Banjo
John Rigsby Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals, Tenor (Vocal)
Ralph Stanley II Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Hunter Berry Fiddle
Todd Meade Fiddle
Keith Williams Fiddle
Bill Dunham Double Bass
Keith Williams Fiddle
Dan Moneyhun Vocals
Shawn Lane Vocals
Technical Credits
Bill Monroe Composer
Mel Tillis Composer
Merle Travis Composer
A.P. Carter Composer
David Glasser Mastering
Webb Pierce Composer
Tim Stafford Liner Notes
James Alan Shelton Arranger, Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Francis McPeake Composer
Traditional Composer
Bobby Starnes Audio Production
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Just the right ingredients and proportions

    James Alan Shelton knows how to make a listener very happy with his full guitar sound and clean picking on a number of catchy melodies like his own self-penned opener, “Half Moon Bay,” and a handful of traditional favorites like “Goodbye Liza Jane,” “Darlin’ Nellie Gray,” “Little Bennie,” “Road to Columbus” and “Texas Gales.” Shelton also plays some banjo on a favorite Webb Pierce number, “Tupelo County Jail.” We even hear Shelton pick the eight strings of the mandolin on “Married Life Blues” and “Eight More Miles to Louisville.” This all adds up to a great showcase of Shelton’s multi-instrumental talent, accompanied by Dr. Ralph Stanley, Ralph Stanley II, Steve Sparkman, Adam Steffey, Tim Stafford, Barry Bales, Hunter Berry, Shawn Lane, Dan Moneyhun, Todd Meade, John Rigsby, Keith Williams, and Bill Dunham. From Virginia, James is the lead guitar player for Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys. Learning to pick out melodies on guitar from listening to his maternal grandfather’s harmonica, James also caught a good share of bluegrass on television. His early bluegrass bands included the Bluegrass Travelers, the Larkin Brothers, Flint Hill, and Blue Ridge. In 1992, James first appeared for a short time with Ralph Stanley when Junior Blankenship took a few weeks off. In early 1994, James when to work for Ralph on a fulltime basis. Six solo album projects have documented his music during the last decade. One, in collaboration with crosspicking legend George Shuffler, was nominated by IBMA for the 2000 Recorded Event of the Year Award. Shelton now picks a 1946 Martin or Signature Huss and Dalton dreadnought guitar. It’s especially nice to hear an album that doesn’t try to push the tempos too far to extreme. The material chosen should be lyrical, fluid, precise and not overly tricky. The band is obviously trying to capture the mountain mood with instrumental passages (especially guitar) that allow the songs to breathe. Look closely at the succinct liner notes and discover that less than half of the tracks include banjo. John Rigsby sings “Handsome Molly” solo, and “Little Bennie” features a trio of Ralph Stanley, his son, and Rigsby. The trio for the other three vocal numbers is Moneyhun, Lane and Stafford. Unlike many projects that emphasize one or the other, it’s a treat to hear nearly equal offerings of instrumental and vocal numbers. “Half Moon Bay” has a very pleasing personality. While certainly not explosive, the album is still very expressive and moving. A very captivating instrumentalist, James Alan Shelton and friends resist the temptation to overplay. Their recipe for traditional music includes just the right ingredients and proportions. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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