Bill Monroe for Christmas

James Allen Shelton, guitarist with Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, shares memories of getting music for Christmas.

James Allen SheltonSomewhere I have a picture of me as a teenager at my grandparent’s house in the early ’70’s on Christmas Eve proudly holding up copies of two Bill Monroe albums that I had gotten for Christmas. I remember that the albums were Kentucky Mandolin and Bluegrass Instrumentals. I listened to those records a lot when I was growing up and learned to play some of the tunes.

My grandaddy on Mom’s side of the family was named Bordie Porter and he was the one who first taught me to play the guitar. He lived just long enough to see the release of the first record album that I ever played on by a local group called The Bluegrass Travelers. He died just before Christmas in 1976 and I remember that as being such a sad Christmas for us all.

Then there was the time my wife totally surprised me by getting me the first two Bear Family Flatt & Scruggs boxed sets for Christmas. She put them in this huge box that a vacuum cleaner came in so I wouldn’t know what they were. I had no idea I was getting those and it was a wonderful surprise!