Sep. 8—Singer-songwriter-guitarist Mike McClure has experienced a couple of outstanding weeks, musically speaking.
First, McClure's Sept. 10 show at Spaceship Earth in downtown McAlester is a sold-out event. Not only will McClure perform a solo set with acoustic guitar, his wife, Chrislyn Rose Lawrence, plans to join him when they perform as the duo Crow and Gazelle.
McClure's looking forward to landing at Spaceship Earth. "I'm excited to check that out," he said.
Also, McClure and his fellow band members in The Great Divide released the group's first single in 20 years on Aug. 26.
"It's getting some good response already," said McClure. Titled "Good Side," the single has garnered 1,322 listens on YouTube alone, not counting other streaming services. It's a track off the band's upcoming album, "Providence."
McClure first became nationally known as the lead singer and songwriter for The Great Divide, the Stillwater-based band that released its debut album in 1998 and quickly became a Red Dirt Music favorite. Some of the band'sbreakout songs included "Never Could," "Pour Me a Vacation" and "Yesterday Road."
While still performing with The Great Divide, McClure released his first solo album, "Twelve Pieces," in 2002. He's since continued to release albums, as a solo artist, with The Great Divide and with the Mike McClure Band. He's in the planning stages for the solo debut album of Crow and Gazelle,
"We've got about 10 songs together," said McClure.
Writing songs for his solo career and The Great Divide as well as Crow and Gazelle has kept him busy.
"So many albums, so many songs," McClure said.
"That's the beauty of it," he said. "I've got to empty the well, so I can go back to it."
Traveling to the McAlester area will be nothing new for McClure. "My folks had a place at Eufaula and we used to go eat at Krebs," said McClure, who now lives in Seymour, Texas.
How does it feel to be considered among the pioneers of Red Dirt music?
"I'm proud of that; I appreciate that," McClure said. "Meeting the Red Dirt Rangers, they made me feel part of the community. I found what I wanted to do with my life."
That's what he continues to do today — writing, singing and recording songs and performing live, bringing his music to the people.
"It all blends together," said McClure.
Referring to his solo performances McClure said "People give me leeway, not yelling all the time for Great Divide songs.
"I do a set that's cohesive," he said, with songs from throughout his career. That being said, McClure sometimes leaves a spot toward the end of his set where he will take requests.
Does he have favorite covers of other artists he likes to perform?
"Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison is a favorite, he said.
The Great Divide first broke up years ago — but then has periodically regrouped throughout the years.
"We got back together in 2021," McClure said. "We would do a show here and there. We were going out and playing the old songs. Our keyboard player said 'Man, we need to do a record."'
McClure wrote 10 songs for the upcoming album "Providence." Of course, the new songs are a little different than those early Great Divide records, reflecting McClure's years of experience since that first album debut. He said the new songs reflect his current point of view.
"Singing about college days is not a part of my life," he said.
"Providence" is set for an Oct. 28 release. He said all of the original members of The Great Divide are on the album, with the addition of keyboard player Bryce Conway — whose organ adorns the band's new single, "Good Side"
Some of McClure's many solo albums include "Camelot" and "Everything's Upside Down." His 2020 album, Looking Up," includes the deep cut "Orion" and "I Am Not Broken" a tribute to musical friends he's made during his career.
Putting together "Looking Up" proved challenging during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
"I produced the album with my wife," McClure said. At the time, McClure said he was quarantined inside this then Boohatch Studio in Ada. Musicians on the album include drummer Eric Hansen, Ruben Salazar on bass and John Knudsen on keyboards.
Jeremy Beaver, who with Adam Gronwald is co-owner of Spaceship Earth Coffee, is appreciative of the response to the ongoing live music shows at the McAlester venue.
"Spaceship Earth is a small venue which means that ticket availability is sometimes limited," he said. "The only way to get tickets before they sell out is to follow us on Facebook and check our website regularly to find out about upcoming shows at www.spaceship earth.coffee."
He hopes to continuing bringing outstanding musical performers to McAlester.
"We are forming partnerships with local businesses to sponsor future shows like this one so we can continue to bring in amazing artists like Mike McClure," Beaver said. "Mike McClure's show is sponsored in part by Josh Hass AAA Insurance," he added.
"The demand for live music is growing exponentially in McAlester," said Beaver. "We've heard from so many people that have been to the shows and had a great time. We are really excited about the future."
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.