By Cassidy Pittman
While pursuing a lifelong dream in music, Brad Divens, founder of Fixin’ To Get Mixin’, a recording/mixing company, found himself, in February, being inducted into the Maryland Entertainers Hall of Fame. Divens, a county native, now resides in Hagerstown, but before he lived there he was a resident of Breezy Point Road, just six miles west of McConnellsburg.
Divens first found his passion for music at age 10 when he heard “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash for the first time. It was only a few years later when he heard Aerosmith’s record “Get Your Wings” that he realized playing a guitar and singing in a band was the ‘rockstar’ kind of life he wanted.
After forming his first band Ratzalad in his hometown of McConnellsburg, Divens’s hard work and passion paid off when he was asked to join KIX, a Maryland based rock band that formed in 1977. At age 20, he went to Criteria Studios in Miami, Fla., to record “Cool Kids” for Atlantic Records.
“I used to go see them (KIX) at Mt. View in Smithsburg, Md., when I was still in high school. I was on top of the world when that phone call came. It was a very big moment for me,” Divens said, recalling the memory of his first big break.
After his experiences with KIX, Divens joined Wrathchild America, which taught him many new skills pertinent to the recording industry. Since then, he has worked with a multitude of well-known recording artists such as Linkin Park, Garbage, Cyndi Lauper, HIM, Bob Seger, Silver Bullet Band, Motley Crue, and Jane’s Addiction. He is currently the front of house (FOH) engineer for Enrique Iglesias. As the music industry moves away from the era of CDs, Divens and other FOH mixers are finding themselves in demand. Usually sitting in the middle of the audience, an FOH engineer is responsible for mixing and recording live shows for applications such as streaming and record releases of “live versions.”
So how does a small-town guitarist from McConnellsburg make it to working face-to-face with so many big music names? Passion and hard work. As a kid Divens spent time jamming with his friends anywhere and anytime he could. Whether it was just in a friend’s garage, at a school dance, or the local firehalls, it was all practice for what was to come. He also credits Jack Deshong of Peach Orchard Road. Deshong taught Divens songs such as “Cream” by ZZ Top and many others. His love of guitar pushed him to play daily and to be surrounded by similarly musically inclined people.
“When I first realized that music was something I wanted to do I had no idea where my journey would take me. You can do anything that you set your mind to do,” Divens said, “and it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it and it moves you. If you do something that makes you happy then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Although Divens is working with top-name musicians, his climb to the top was not always easy. He found himself a struggling artist, like many do, when he moved to the West Coast to join a Los Angeles based band, Back Alley Gators. Even while pursuing a dream, reality beckons with rent and food expenses. Odd jobs and perseverance were key to Divens following one dream to the next.
When asked about his most memorable show, Divens admitted it was a difficult question to answer. Many stood out for multiple reasons. The bottom line was, from KIX to Enrique Iglesias, every struggle, every change, and every bump in the road was worth it for Divens.