Mike McClure builds his own brand of red dirt with hard-rock tendencies

Mike McClure Band with Zack Walther and the Cronkites
8 p.m. Friday
Wormy Dog Saloon
311 E. Sheridan

Even Mike McClure will tell you: The truth often has an ugly bite. It will set you free, although sometimes only by cutting you off at the knees. So it is that as a young man, the former The Great Divide singer/guitarist received a bit of advice from a music legend that continues to serve him.

“I was about 19 years old, I was in this bar in Texas and Guy Clark was there,” McClure said. “Me, him and another couple dudes in my band were sitting around playing acoustics, and he handed me the guitar and said, ‘Play me one of yours.’ I played one and he sticks his finger to his head like a gun and goes, ‘Boom!’

“At the end of the night, I was leaving and he grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, man, you can write; you’re just not showing your ass. When you show your ass, the audience will know it.'”

McClure moved to Stillwater in 1990, and almost immediately fell in those on The Farm, where the red-dirt scene came alive with musicians like Bob Childers and bands like the Red Dirt Rangers. McClure met his Great Divide bandmates in 1992, and things grew organically, spreading from around town to around the region. When Great Divide self-released its
1995 debut, “Going for Broke,” it sold more than 20,000 copies on its own.

In 1998, the act signed with Atlantic Records to release its next two albums. But the label move exposed fault lines in the band, and McClure moved on in 2002. The Great Divide forged on, releasing two more discs before breaking up in 2007.

“We hired a producer ” a good guy ” but he was constantly trying to turn my distortion down,” McClure said. “I’ve always wanted to rock. That’s the kind of music I like.”

He self-released a couple of much harder-rocking albums: his solo debut, “Twelve Pieces,” and then “Everything Upside Down,” billed as the Mike McClure Band. Fortunately, he was friends of Oklahoma’s Cross Canadian Ragweed, most of whose albums he’d produced. True to the red-dirt brotherhood, one good turn deserves another, and CCR helped bolster McClure’s solo career.

By his reckoning, it took almost four years before his venture got its head above water, but now he and his label, BooHatch Records, are doing pretty well. His three-piece band just finished up its seventh album and third in as many years, “Zero Dark Thirty,” which comes out March 2.
McClure will debut the disc at a CD release party Friday at Bricktown’s Wormy Dog Saloon, not that he’s counting on selling lots of copies these days to pay the bills.

“More and more, CD is more of a marketing tool, like, ‘Here you go. If you like us, come see us.’ I’m cool with that, because I like going out and playing. I like meeting people,” he said, noting how those tough years humbled him, making him more grateful for what he has. “It was really good for me, because anybody that’s at a show, I appreciate the hell out of them now.” “Chris Parker

Chris Parker

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