Divided no more 

After years of dealing in the music business and playing with The Great Divide left him jaded, ornery Red Dirt musician Mike McClure is happy with his freedom. So why’s the band getting back together to headline at Stillwater’s College Days?

“Money and whores,” he said with a wiseass chortle. “Naw, I honestly thought that I wouldn’t have done it because bands breakin’ up like that, it’s rough. It was friends and it impacted everybody and it was just a rough drag. It took us this long to get past it.”

After releasing two independently produced records in the mid-’90s, the Stillwater-born Great Divide got scooped up by Atlantic Records, which subsequently re-released their second album, 1998’s “Break in the Storm,” as its major-label debut. The Jimmy Buffet-style “Pour Me a Vacation,” a pop-country single about boozing in paradise, cracked Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

Lead singer McClure left the band in 2003, after years of chafing against popular expectations.

I’m a horrible entertainer.
—Mike McClure

“Whatever ingredient it is for mass appeal is what ultimately chips away at somebody,” he said. “I hate entertaining people. I’m a horrible entertainer.” The Great Divide continued with out him for a while before folding for good. Thanks to Wormy Dog managing partner Ronnye Farmer making the arrangements, Friday night will be the band’s first public performance under its original lineup in nearly a decade. It will be recorded live for a CD and DVD release.

McClure said they’ve been rehearsing properly, but a few fences required mending first.

“I asked the guys if they’d even entertain the thought of sitting in the same room as me,” he said.

Soon, all was well, and they began tuning up their instruments again.

“We know enough to go out and wing it. Hell, the band never was a bunch of virtuosos. It’s not like it’s a bunch of complicated shit,” he said.

Now 40, McClure tools around as a Red Dirt producer, working with his friend C.P. Sparkman as 598 Recordings, and more notably for five albums by Cross Canadian Ragweed. He’s also been playing much of his own material around the region as The Mike McClure Band, a decidedly more rock ’n’ roll-oriented act than The Great Divide ever was. After years spent onstage and in the music biz, he isn’t too worried about this weekend.

“I don’t mind train wrecks onstage.

I’ve survived so many,” he said. “If we left with them booing and throwing eggshells, it’d be funny.”

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