Julie Bass Divens

Julie was born and raised in the Westchester area of New York. She began playing guitar and singing as a young girl & loved learning songs and took guitar lessons from age 9- 13. She also developed a love of acting and mimicry, and could emulate singers from Joan Baez, Shirley Bassey, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Gladys Knight and Tom Jones at a very young age. (She would tell you that her family’s babysitters were forced to listen to her perform Goldfinger). She learned that she enjoyed being onstage, and began to perform in local talent shows, plays and musicals, including Hair (which she toured in regionally as a 13 years old) 

At 14, her family moved to Greenwich Connecticut, and her playing and singing really developed here. She grew to love Joni Mitchell and with the gift of a Martin 12 String, began to experiment with different tuning’s and chords to better play her beloved Joni songs. That led to playing professionally in clubs , concerts & coffee houses before she was 16, further exposure led to being booked to open concerts for Richie Havens (while still in high school). She was fortunate to be introduced to a major record producer of the time, Jerry Goldberg whom loved what he heard, and he encouraged Julie to develop her own style of singing and playing.

She excelled in musical theatre and drama, and became renowned for her portrayal of Bloody Mary in South Pacific, it’s noteworthy that the actress whom performed the role on Broadway, came to see Julie’s performance and pronounced that Julie had far surpassed her talent in the same role.

She moved to the Hartford area for college and expanded her musical repertoire to include Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Brown, CSNY and many other popular recording artists of the time. This led to touring the coffee house circuit and opening for notable artists such as The James Cotton Blues Band, Jonathan Edwards & J. Geils Band. While in Hartford, she caught the ear of legendary Jazz Saxophone great Jackie McLean (with whom she studied Jazz history), this friendship lead to her being cast in a leading role, as Pirate Jenny in Three Penny Opera.

Julie was raised with a level of practicality and resourcefulness which cautioned her from solely pursuing the life of a musician, she always had “straight jobs” as her source of income. After college, she stayed in the Hartford area and fronted a Little Feat tribute band called “The Furies”, as well as commuting to New York City by train to audition for Broadway and off Broadway musicals. Although she was non-equity, her resume & contacts allowed her entry into that rarefied environment. She was cast as Aunt Em in a national touring production of The Wiz, but declined because of the nomadic nature of touring musicals. (There’s that practicality thing again). She expanded musically, fronting various and sundry cover rock bands on the east coast.

She had the opportunity for an all-expenses paid move to California’s Silicon Valley in the 80’s and she embraced it for the change if offered. Eventually she married and continued to perform at clubs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area  and went on to study acting in San Francisco, doing workshops at ACT, and many other area stage/voice over/ commercial and on-camera workshops, which led to being in movies, commercials, voice overs, character voices & narration. Julie took a long hiatus from playing and singing, as she had begun to not like it so much, (likely from people talking through her sets). 

Throughout her life in the bay area, Julie and her hubs would escape to the Sierra Foothills and its environs to hike in the wilderness, this lead to her hubs teaching her how to fish, she enjoyed this immensely and learned to love it. They would hire fishing guides to take them Salmon Fishing on the great Sacramento River in Red Bluff, Ca. They eventually moved there as they were poised and ready to exit Silicon Valley and open a bed and breakfast. Salmon King Lodge where she and her husband work as fishing guides and innkeepers.

Throughout this time music took a back seat to running the business, however, Julie regularly sang in a band known as The Reign until it disbanded, as well as teaching herself to play Ukulele, which engaged a whole new chords structure, tuning, and was much lighter to carry around.

Eventually, due to natural forces, they moved to the Southern Oregon Coast for better fishing opportunities, better temperatures, and less fire danger. It was here that Julie re-ignited her love of singing and playing, performing at weddings, concerts, festivals, life events, and private concerts. By pure happenstance, she met Les Stansell, a renowned musician and Luthier Supreme, whose instruments are highly sought throughout the world because of the resonance produced by using local Myrtle and Cedar wood(s).

Julie and Les joined musical forces each bringing a lifetime of musicianship and a love of singing. Their voices and vocal stylings complement each other in a profound way, and Les worked with Julie on her vocal dynamics, which opened up a whole new world of singing, as, with such a powerful voice, tempering it for each song, and layering the power of the vocals, not engaging the big vibrato and large sounds until they are truly called for in each song.

Julie and Les have created a repertoire of over 100 songs in the few years they have played together. Bolstered by their musician friends, they created the Stansell Divens Band, and have spent parts of 2020 & 2021 recording 5 CD’s of their best material, their specialty is taking other artists songs, and stripping them down to a simpler music form, mostly guitar, ukulele, and vocals. They were thrilled to have their CD based on Bruce Springsteen’s songs placed into the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music in New Jersey by legendary music man Robert Santelli, where it has become part of the permanent collection. All their music is now available on all streaming platforms. Julie is now at work on her first solo album, which Les is producing, and it should be available streaming in 2022.

In the spring of 2021, Les had transformed an old boat building adjoining his instrument building shop on his Pistol River, OR property into a large room to play pickle ball, a sport he’s very active in. Serendipitously, because of the design elements he crafted in the space, this room had such superb acoustics, that it also doubles as a performance space, producing very live. Cathedral like sound. Les and Julie and different band members embarked on a live, invitation only performance series called ” First Thursday’s” (because of the date on which the shows were held) These were limited seating events, and offered a great sampling of a myriad of musical genres, often featuring s musical guest artist, whom Julie and Les would open the show with, and then turn the show over to the artist.

More from my blog

%d bloggers like this: