After 12 years, seven albums and legions of loyal fans, the Great Divide is poised for a big break with the 2005 release of the band’s latest CD, Under Your Own Sun.
The band strummed its first chords in a Quonset hut on the Lester farm near Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1992. “We write and play from our life experiences for our fans—that’s who we aim to please, as well as ourselves,” says bass guitarist Kelley Green.
Guitarist/vocalist Scotte Lester’s earliest memories of music are of lying on a blanket while his grandparents played in a band at Saturday night dances in Guthrie. His grandfather played fiddle, while his grandmother sang and played the guitar. It’s Scotte’s early exposure to the music of Country greats Bob Wills, Hank Williams and Hank Snow that inspires the Divide’s music.
Drummer J.J. Lester introduced singer Mike McClure to brother Scotte, who recruited Kelley Green and the Great Divide was born. J.J. still marvels over his good fortune: “Hey, I’m a lucky guy. I get to play music for a living.”
The band debuted at a steer roping in Perry, using a flatbed truck as a stage. They soon picked up a monthly gig at the Wormy Dog Saloon near the Oklahoma State University campus. A few years before, a fellow named Garth Brooks had cut his musical teeth in the same locale.
Scotte recalls the early days of the band, “We were just a bunch of rednecks. Our attitude about our music was take it or leave it—or we’ll kick your ass.”
The Divide recorded their first album, Goin’ for Broke, in 1993. They proved they were for real when they sold over 10,000 CDs by word of mouth. The next album, Break in the Storm, was picked up by Atlantic Records for national distribution. The Caribbean-style single, “Pour Me a Vacation,” was a hit on the charts and as a video.
Before leaving Atlantic, the band released Revolutions, then recorded Afterglow at the historic Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City. Remain came out in 2002, just before singer/guitarist Mike McClure left the group in 2003 to pursue his rock and roll interests. Concern that the band might fold was dispelled when Micah Aills was recruited to replace McClure. The Great Divide has hit its stride again, with the much anticipated release of the group’s latest CD, Under Your Own Sun.
Only time will tell what lies ahead. In the meantime, the members are determined to keep playing their music and working toward that magic moment of overnight success. They’re the sort of buddies you’d enjoy knocking back a couple of cold beers with or someone you’d call in the middle of the night to pull your pickup out of a ditch. Success couldn’t happen to a better bunch of guys.