Steven Patton remembers James Alan Shelton

Here is another personal remembrance of James Alan Shelton, this one from his close friend and neighbor, Steve Patton. Steven and his wife, Jessica, spent a great deal opt time with James and Great Shelton.

Steve and Jessica PattonI first met James Alan when I was 15 years old. It was a regular day. I had stumbled into Audey Ratliff’s mandolin shop and was invited to go eat lunch with James and Audey at the local Mexican joint.

I sat across from James basically in awe of who he was as a musician. But that wasn’t really who he was. My preconceived thoughts were proved wrong that day some 13 years ago. James was a regular guy, just like everyone else. He was kind, considerate, generous, and always took the time to talk with me.

Years passed and me and my wife, Jessica, bought a house about a 1/4 mile from James and his wife, Greta. Ironically, they told us about that house being for sale. That is the person he was. I was very fortunate to spend many hours in his living room playing guitar with him, trying to learn from him and sometimes just listen to a new arrangement he was working on. Many afternoons were spent in his basement leather shop, watching him meticulously hand tool a custom instrument strap.

One other particular time, James offered to let me play one of his guitars on a show, and then keep it for nearly a year until I was able to get a decent box of my own. There again, that was James. And dad burn it, I’m going to miss that guy.

He once said to me, “you can’t pick your family, but you can choose your friends.” And words fail me to tell how good a friend he really was.

I love you, James and I will see you again.