Monday, May 12, 2008

Artist Spotlight: Mike McClure (part 1)

Sometimes the full breadth of a great artist's talent isn't recognized until their demise. Of course there are/were people along the way that fully understood the presence they were in. i'm here today to make sure that doesn't happen with Mike McClure. In my circle of friends, as well as in the right circles within the Texas Music/Red Dirt scene, Mike is considered a genre pioneer, a captivating songwriter, an inventive guitarist, and hopefully soon enough - a legend.

Mike honed his musical chops with the successful Stillwater, OK band The Great Divide. Formed in '93, Mike and band began releasing albums independently before signing with a couple major labels. Citing lack of effort and enthusiasm from the both Atlantic and Broken Bow, The Great Divide released their final album with Mike as the frontman independently.

Possibly a little bitter from label troubles (as well as bandmate problems), Mike decided to leave the band in '02 and embark on a solo career. Since releasing his solo debut, Twelve Pieces, in July of '02, Mike has formed a band (with a couple lineup changes along the way) that - just last week - released its 5th record. The Mike McClure Band has released all these albums independently - and this could help explain Mike's lack of exposure - but for now, i'm okay with that. i know how great he is and i don't have to fight the masses.....

You can add talented producer to Mike's list of accolades as well. Not only has he produced everything with his name on it, he holds the production credits on a number of Texas/Oklahoma band's discs as well. He began by helping to produce Cross Canadian Ragweed's second album, Highway 377, in '01 with fellow Great Divide member J.J. Lester. Ragweed has called on Mike's personal touch for all four of their subsequent albums. Some other names Mike has produced records for include: Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and The Dedringers.

So, there's my attempt at a bio - i'll get a little more in-depth with each album as i get to it. This is lookin' like it'll end up being longer than i expected, so i'll break it up into a few parts.

don't be a jackass - go here and buy
these albums. iTunes
has a couple, too, if that's your thing.

To start off, here's a couple good songs from The Great Divide to show where he's coming from:

mp3: The Great Divide - Nowhere Woman ~ from Revolutions (1999)
mp3: The Great Divide - Fly On ~ from Remain (2002)
After Mike's departure, The Great Divide attempted to continue with a new lead singer - to no avail. When you lose your frontman, songwriter, and lead guitarist - you're pretty much done.

Twelve Pieces
July 2002

mp3: Mike McClure - Driftin'

My most prized album of his, this mainly acoustic disc (one song featuring Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed is a screamin' electric tune) shows that sometimes simple is the best way to go. Stripped down and bearing his soul like never before, Mike shows the world (ok, maybe just Oklahoma and Texas) that he has arrived as a solo artist. The majority of these songs were ones that Mike had floating around that either didn't fit with his former band, or he was unwilling to give up to them. Some about self-doubt, some about self-improvement, some gospel.....
all perfectly written.

if you're gonna start somewhere, start here.........

Everything Upside Down
April 2004

mp3: Mike McClure Band - Open My Door
mp3: Mike McClure Band - Just Not Good Enough

Never one to be pigeon-holed or genrized, Mike followed his acoustic debut with a full on, guitar soaked rock album - the debut of the MMB. At 19 tracks, he decided to put out three 4 song EP's in the months prior to the full album release. Fitting the rock & roll motif, these EP's were simply titled 'gun', 'brass knuckles', and 'throwing star', and helped to fund the entire recording process. Just Not Good Enough is a song written about the troubles that led to Mike leaving The Great Divide. If you saw my last Instrumental Interlude post, i posted another track from this album that's the intro to Open My Door. Get 'em both and listen to them together....

Perfectly spaced between the ROCK are few slower, ballad-ish songs. Check out She Gets To You, Lay Your Head Down, and Moon Is Almost Full - definitely one of Mike's most image-inducing writing efforts - but i'll talk more about that one later............

If you like what you've heard, check out
The Gospel According to Mike
a entirely Mike McClure gospel post.....

Go To Part 2 ---------------->


  1. Hi, good post. I have been pondering this topic,so thanks for sharing. I’ll likely be coming back to your posts and I will do my best to visit similar websites like this one to improve my knowledge about it. 23jj

  2. mike is an great artist and guitar player i know he has played behind alot of artist in the country music business and i know he is an man of talent Mike i love you and for what ever reason you left great divided i dont hold it against you my freind everyone needs changes some good good and some bad good luck my freind keep that country music rolling Tim