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Thread: Kyle Evans (1947-2001)

  1. #1

    Kyle Evans (1947-2001)

    The story below was originally published in the May 1988 issue of *South Dakota* magazine:

    I'm in heaven on a horse
    On the wide open prairies of Dakota
    Where life sings me a melody
    And my heart sings in harmony
    My troubles never been so few before

    --Kyle Evans

    If Kyle Evans lived in Nashville, he might now be a household name in South Dakota. But the softspoken country singer prefers life in Wessington Springs, and he isn't unhappy that his music hasn't yet brought fame or fortune.

    Besides, he hardly has time for Grand Ole Opry appearances. He's too busy here playing guitar, ranching, roping calves in the rodeos, rebuilding buggies and raising kids.

    Seated at a table near the till of the Springs Cafe, Kyle looks like any other Jerauld County cowboy in his jeans, hat and boots. That's where we found him, midway between the farm auction posters and the Harvey Dunn prairie prints.

    As a white-aproned cook prepared the noon special and a young waitress poured black coffee, Evans told about growing up on a farm 16 miles from town, learning to play guitar chords from his father and strumming along to the 1960s hits of Jim Reeves and Eddie Arnold.

    Kyle hasn't forgotten the first time he performed in public. Though he'd always fiddled with a guitar and sang some harmony in country jam sessions, he never performed solo until friends decided he should provide some entertainment for a gathering of locals at the Twin Lakes Supper Club near Woonsocket.

    The reserved young cowboy--thinking he might make less of a scene if he just sang a song than if he fought any longer--picked up a guitar.

    It wasn't as bad as he thought. In fact, the crowd liked it and the manager of the place said he could come back and sing weekends for $20 a night. Kyle has been strumming and singing ever since, much to the delight of South Dakotans and fans of true country music in other states who have discovered him.

    A few months after that first performance, the sponsors of a Wessington Springs crop show asked Kyle if he would entertain at the event. He knew that his brother Lennis had been playing with the bass guitar. A cousin, Brian Bergeleen, was a good lead guitarist, and a neighbor, Dale Schimke, played drums. "I said, 'Let's get together and pretend we're a band.'"

    The master of ceremonies at the crop show introduced them as Kyle and Company, and the name stuck. The same foursome has been together for the past 19 years. They now call themselves Kyle Evans and the Company Cowboy Band.

    They began by playing local nightclubs, benefits, and wedding dances. "We played one-nighters in South Dakota. I've never had a booking agent and we've never asked for a booking. It just mushroomed on its own."

    The other band members have kept music a sideline as they pursue various occupations. Lennis operates the family farm. Dale is also a local farmer, and Brian is a well repairman. But for Kyle, music has been a full-time career.

    Rodeo promoter Jim Sutton gave Kyle a break in 1981 when an organist cancelled out at the Badlands Circuit Finals rodeo in Bismarck, North Dakota. Sutton had heard Kyle and his band perform at rodeo dances and called to ask if they could "back the action" at Bismarck.

    Until then, organists and an occasional brass band were standard musical fare at rodeos, where the musicians would provide background music during the rides. It's an unusual way to perform says Kyle--lots of eight second instrumentals. But the band also entertains prior to the rodeo, at intermission and after hours, giving them an opportunity to show they can play a full song and sing it as well.

    That rodeo performance became the first of many, and today they are best known for their rodeo music, playing for up to 75 rodeos a year. Kyle and the Company Cowboys have performed at top PRCA events across the country, including the Wyoming State Fair, the Denver Stock Show, and the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Twice they've been at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. They sang the national anthem in four-part harmony at the 1987 championships.

    Entertaining at rodeos has allowed Kyle and Lennis to indulge in another love: calf roping. They grew up on horses, riding the hills south of their farm. But they didn't enter rodeo competition until they were in their twenties--a late start for rodeo cowboys. "I rode bareback a couple of years before I realized I wasn't cut out for that," says Kyle. Now he and Lennis compete in calf roping on the Badlands Circuit.

    When they are also the rodeo musicians for the event, it can be challenging. "We'll play for the bareback, then take turns jumping down and grabbing the horses for the calf roping," while the other band members keep the music going.

    "We've never gone extensively down the road rodeoing. I'd hate to try to make a living at it," he says with a laugh.

    But the competition gives him an insider's appreciation for the life of the cowboy that is expressed in the music he writes. One song, "Yesterday's Rodeo Man," tells the story of a worn-out champion who goes home to find that the family ranch is now in other hands. He is alone, says the song, with nothing more than memories and pride:

    But in a puff of smoke from a homemade corncob pipe
    He sees the highlights of his yesterday
    When an eager strong young cowboy rode the worst of broncs
    In a smooth and graceful kind of way

    And for a moment he no longer feels the aches and pains
    That age has brought to torture him
    In his heart he's still a champion
    He's Yesterday's Rodeo Man

    Kyle also writes and sings of love, friendships, favorite horses and pretty women--horses as often as women. His style is country, but he's without a Texas twang. Imagine a Tom Brokaw in denim, with a guitar and just a little cowboy slang.

    Rodeo has enlarged the band's following, but Kyle has never seriously considered leaving South Dakota for the fast life in Nashville. He lived briefly in Seattle before entering the music business and that satisfied his curiosity for city life.

    He doesn't envy the big names of country music. "The people who are on top in the music business aren't all living the way they like. There's a lot of glory being on stage for an hour or two, but then they go back to the bus and maybe drive 10 or 20 hours to the next town."

    Though Kyle and his band put on a lot of miles during rodeo season, most are three-day events so they aren't on the road every day. And in between rodeos and during the off season they are firmly rooted in Wessington Springs, a small county-seat community set at the base of prairie hills in central South Dakota where people not only know everybody, but they very nearly know everybody's dog.

    Recently Kyle gained statewide prominence when the state centennial commission named him South Dakota Centennial Troubadour because of his musical interpretations of the plains lifestyle.

    Staying with his South Dakota roots may have hurt him dollar-wise, but "I don't think living here has hurt my music at all. Sometimes I've thought of moving to Nashville, but you can get lost in Nashville. We're making a good living doing what we want to do ... and there are a lot of musicians starving in Nashville."

    Kyle has gone to Tennessee just long enough to record six albums. He has shied away from offers to sign with a major label, saying he won't give up control over his music to become one of several hundred musicians being promoted by a big company. He has signed a contract with Wolverine Gallery of Greybull, Wyoming, an Old West promotional firm.

    Charlie Soames of Wolverine says that once people hear Kyle and his band, they become fans. "He has a beautiful, crystal-clear voice coupled with expert arranging ability. And he's getting increased airplay on stations that play real country-cowboy music."

    If more airtime brings more fans, Kyle says it would be nice. Meanwhile, he'll continue to produce music his way, cutting albums with small runs, playing the rodeo circuit, entertaining at volunteer firemen's dances and other benefits, and enjoying smalltown life.

    He and his wife, Linda, and their two teenage sons, Kurt and Dustin, live in Wessington Springs. "The boys are both full of music, and they're working at starting a band of their own," says Kyle.

    With their dog named Spike and a gold pickup truck, the family is typical South Dakota. Kyle keeps his horses on his brother's ranch, but he makes space in the backyard for a hobby of rebuilding covered wagons, stagecoaches and buggies. He became interested in the horse-drawn four-wheelers after a coach ride around the Denver rodeo arena.

    Elderly cowboys have offered advice on how things used to be done with horses and wagons. "I didn't know how to harness a horse in 1976," he says. "This has caused me to take an interest in the way things used to be done."

    It has also been good experience for his 1989 summer plans, when as centennial troubadour he will travel the state with the East River and West River wagon trains. He'll sing at campfire gatherings and plans to ride along on horseback as much as his rodeo schedule will allow.

    "I'm enthused about the centennial because it's going to give us a chance to relive the last hundred years." Serving as centennial troubadour, he says, "will give me a chance to give back a little bit to the state that's given me an awful lot."

    He plans to produce a centennial album featuring South Dakota songs, patriotic music, and a few gospel hits. "South Dakota You've Been Good To Me," a song he wrote from the heart, will be included:

    I've seen the bright lights of your cities
    And I've rode your quiet open plains
    I've bathed my soul in your warm summer sunshine
    And I've welcomed your cool refreshing rains

    I've often gazed in awe at your sunsets
    When the shadows fall and evenin's comin' on
    And I've listened to the birds as they're wakin' up the sun
    In the early mornin' just before the dawn

    South Dakota you've been good to me
    You've given me the things I really need
    A simple way of life, a home and family
    South Dakota you've been good to me

    I've seen the deer and antelope a-grazin' on the hills
    And the buffalo, content out on the range
    And every time I see the eagle wild and free
    I pray this way of life will never change

    Just let me go on livin' the way I'm livin' now
    And I'll welcome every day with a smile
    And I'll thank the Lord above that I'm on the land I love
    And that He has made my life worthwhile

    --Kyle Evans

  2. #2

    For rodeo troubadour, all roads lead back home

    Originally published in November 1993:

    Kyle Evans grew up on a farm 16 miles southwest of Wessington Springs. Although his travels have taken him all over the country, he's never wanted to leave South Dakota. In 1989, he was named the state's centennial troubadour. He has recorded more than a dozen albums and lately has been best known for his work at rodeos.

    He and his band, the Company Cowboys, entertained this weekend for several thousand people at the McCrossan Boys Ranch Rodeo at the Sioux Falls Arena and the late-night parties afterward at the Howard Johnson. Next weekend the group travels to Kentucky to perform at the finals of the Great Lakes Circuit of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

    Birth date: July 1, 1947.
    Hometown: Wessington Springs.
    Family: Wife, Linda; sons Kurt, 23, and Dustin, 21.

    Q: How did you get involved in performing at rodeos?

    A: We'd played dances and shows for about 12 years in a two- or three-state area. An organist got sick before a rodeo and we were asked if we could back the action. I said we'd give it a try. That was back in 1981, and we've been doing it ever since. We've played at over 1,000 rodeo performances from Louisville to Las Vegas.

    Q: You've done a lot of recording over the years in Nashville. Do you have any favorite Nashville memories?

    A: There are a lot of them. I've been backstage at the Opry several times. Little Jimmy Dickens has gotten me a pass on several occasions. It's always enjoyable visiting.

    Q: What's the one thing your fans would be surprised to know about you?

    A: I guess the fact that I really feel like one of them. I want to stay here. I'm satisfied with the rural life in South Dakota. And I hope I never get so big that people can't come up and visit with me. I hope I'm always approachable.

    Q: What three albums would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

    A: I'd want to take along a gospel album. I really like Jim Reeves' style and when I started out I used to sing his songs, so I'd probably bring a Jim Reeves album along too. The third? Probably a photo album. (Laughter.) No seriously, maybe it would have to be a Western album.

    Q: Do you have a favorite rodeo song?

    A: My favorite? Oh boy ... There's a tune called "Silence On The Line" that I recorded a couple of years ago. It has to be one of my favorites because of the story it tells. It's about a cowboy who calls to tell his wife he's coming home because he's done riding. And he says he's got a friend he's bringing along. He's a cripple, and he wants to show him Colorado. She says she's got no use for a cripple on the ranch because there's a lot of work to do. Well it turns out he's the one who's crippled and that's why he's coming home. Chris LeDoux recorded it. I first heard it about 15 years ago, and I remember I was standing there with goose bumps.

    Q: If given the opportunity, would you ride a bull?

    A: It would have to be for an awful good cause. There was a time when I did, but I wouldn't anymore. I don't think I'd bounce like I used to.

    Q: Do you have a favorite rodeo event?

    A: I really don't. I spent a couple of years riding roughstock and 15 years roping, so I appreciate every event.

    Q: Who is your favorite South Dakota songwriter or musician?

    A: There are quite a few South Dakota musicians who are really underappreciated. There's some great talent in this state, but I don't think I'd say one was a favorite over another. I appreciate anyone that's out there doing his best.

  3. #3

    Dustin Evans European Interview

    Q: Would you please introduce yourself to the readers and tell us something about your history?

    A: My name is Dustin Evans. I was raised in the small town of Wessington Springs, SD. Iíve been involved in music my entire life and have done extensive U.S. touring with the same band for the past eight years. My dad, Kyle Evans, was a well-known cowboy singer/songwriter in South Dakota, and is my biggest influence.

    Q: Country music has many new fans in Europe who may be learning about you for the first time. How would you describe the music you play to someone whoís never seen or heard you before?

    A: I play contemporary country, but I have roots in cowboy and rodeo music, which I still try to add to each project.

    Q: What is your current CD and how is it doing?

    A: Iím working on a new CD this spring, but my last project was called *Getting On With My Life*, and has sold quite well, even though itís my own independent label, Company Cowboy Songs. We also released a CD single of a song called "If I Die Before You Wake", which is selling well and has gotten some radio airplay around the country.

    Q: How did you find the title for the CD and what inspired you?

    A: I wrote a song called "Getting On With My Life", and even though itís a break-up song, I thought the title fit the project. I lost my father in a motorcycle accident just before we recorded it, and I also took the step of moving to Nashville that same year, so it really seemed appropriate.

    Q: Do you write your own songs, and if not, how do you go about finding songs for your albums?

    A: I wrote on six out of the ten tracks on the last CD. The rest are from Nashville writers that Iíve been lucky enough to meet and befriend since moving here. The new project wonít stress that I do the writing, as much as finding songs that I feel are potential hits. If I happen to write one I feel that strongly about, itís just an added plus.

    Q: Whatís your favorite song among all the songs youíve recorded and whatís the story behind it?

    A: I wrote a song called "Dadís Song" shortly after he passed away. I guess itís my favorite because it really speaks the truth about his life and my attempts to follow in his footsteps. Most songs are driven by a clever hook or a play on words. This one simply tells a true story, which made it pretty easy for me to write.

    Q: How much creative control do you have over your music?

    A: As much as I want, I guess. If I want something a certain way, I just have to say so. However, my producer Dave Brainard is a super talent with a great ear for how things should go. I kind of turn things over to him for the details of the instrumentation, and he continues to impress me more every time out.

    Q: Thereís a lot of work that goes into a number one hit. Whatís it take to make it?

    A: Well, even though I donít know from personal experience, I have a pretty good idea. First of all, obviously, it takes a great song and someone whose voice marries to the message. There are so many good songs and singers out there, thatís probably not the hardest part. The song has to be judged as a good release on every level, from the artist, to the label, to the radio personnel, to the public. If anyone along the way doesnít get it, itís dead in the water.

    Another big part is the marketing that usually only the major labels can give you. Relationships have to be formed with radio personalities from all of the reporting stations to ensure theyíre all on board. If even ONE major station refuses to play a song, for whatever reason, it can keep the song from reaching number one. To ensure this, labels sponsor extensive radio tours for the artists and throw in various other perks to keep the program directors happy. If all those things line up, and the public reacts favorably, youíll have a hit record.

    Q: How much do your songs influence your audience?

    A: Thatís a good question, and Iím sure it varies from person to person. "If I Die Before You Wake" had a pretty big reaction, and it sort of reached out to our troops overseas and their families here at home. People sort of take what they want from your music, but that was probably the best example of me finding out a song was moving the individual listener. Some are just feel-good songs that keep people upbeat, but it means a lot when someone takes a tune to heart.

    Q: The internet is playing a bigger and bigger part in the world of music. Has the internet hurt or helped you and how would you like to see it evolve?

    A: I love it. I think it is already revolutionizing the way music is distributed. For an independent artist like myself, itís really a God-send. Now my CDs can be purchased from anywhere in the country, without label distribution and in areas we donít even visit. My website takes credit card orders, and itís generated business from every state in the union.

    Iím at a level where I donít even mind the free downloading aspect. I think it should be stopped eventually, but I see it as free advertising at this point.

    Q: Who do you look up to musically and where do your musical roots come from?

    A: My family has always been very musically inclined. My great-grandfather who came here from Norway in the early 1900s played in a band. My grandpa and his sisters played piano and guitar, and my father made a career out of it. I donít really try to emulate anyone in country music, but naturally I hear a lot of Dad in my singing. I learned it all watching him.

    Q: What do you think about todayís country music versus its roots and where do you see it going in the future?

    A: Personally, I think itís strayed pretty far from its roots and turned into a really over-produced stock sound that everyone uses. I think the formula will change. In some ways itís already started. I think people want something a little more raw, and the public reaction to songs viewed as "fringe" music will steer it back where they want it.

    Q: If you had a chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

    A: I wish radio wasnít dictated by major label personnel. In the old days, anyone could get a fair shake on the radio, provided they made good music. Nowadays, radio in America is hand-fed by the suits in Nashville, and program directors rarely deviate from the national songlist theyíre given. The internet is going to shake things up quite a bit. Artists are becoming available to the masses whether Nashville likes it or not. More labels will surely buckle in the very near future, and hopefully having an opinion will once again become part of a DJís job description.

    Q: As an artist you have so many different things you have to do such as recording, touring, doing interviews, etc. What do you like doing the best? Whatís your favorite activity?

    A: Without a doubt, the live shows. Thatís always where the rubber meets the road. A lot of folks can make good records, but to me, success in front of a live audience is where itís at. There are only a handful of acts that still do that very well, and those are the people Iíd like to emulate.

    Q: How did you get into Country Music? Is there a story behind it?

    A: I was always around it growing up, and at times I was sitting in with Dadís band, Kyle Evans and the Company Cowboys. I was hooked on music and singing it as far back as I can recall. It wasnít something I thought about much, it was just the natural progression of things.

    Q: Before you became a star, were your friends and family supportive or was it a struggle?

    A: Weíve been very fortunate in our successes over the past few years. My mom, Linda, tried to keep me grounded a little at first. She knows all too well about the pitfalls associated with the business. I think she was a little concerned when I quit college in my third year and started doing this for a living. Anyway, I think she knows that I take it seriously and wouldnít do it if I didnít believe in what I was doing. Everyone has been supportive, and even though itís a "different" occupation, my family is behind me.

    Q: Has your journey to success been a hard or an easy road?

    A: I feel pretty lucky about the connections weíve made, the shows weíve been invited to play, and the the crowds who have been there for us over the years. At the same time, weíve worked hard at putting a good product out there for people, and I think we earned what weíve got. To answer your question: Music is a blessing, and performing is a joy to me. Thereís nothing easier than getting paid for doing what you love.

    Q: What drives you? What inspired you to become an artist?

    A: Iíve just always loved performing, and I think itís something weíve gotten pretty good at. As far as career choice, Iíve never really considered anything else. As long as somebody out there wants to hear me sing, thatís all the drive I need.

    Q: What does it take to be a country star?

    A: They always say you need the voice, the look, stage presence, and "it". "It" is a hard-to-define charisma that draws people into what you do. I think there are a lot of people out there with those traits, so a lot of it boils down to the opportunity. If youíre in the right place at the right time, someone might offer you a shot and take it to that next level.

    Q: Whatís unique about you that differentiates you from other artists?

    A: Thatís a tough question. I definitely donít try to sound like anyone else, and everyone that performs has specific tastes in the songs they do. If people see me and draw comparisons, it can be flattering, but I definitely try to do my own thing. Hopefully, people see something unique when we perform.

    Q: Whatís the best thing about being a star and whatís the hardest thing?

    A: I really like meeting new people, and it happens every show. Making new friends is probably the best part of what I do. There arenít too many hard parts, but I would have to say the travel gets hectic sometimes, and you can run a little low on sleep. For the most part, though, itís still a lot of fun.

    Q: Whatís your greatest challenge been in the music business?

    A: Iím sort of in the middle of it right now. Getting people in Nashville interested in what you do is not easy. There are a lot of great artists fighting for a place, and things can move awfully slow, but I believe persistence will pay off and weíll get there eventually.

    Q: What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which youíre proud of?

    A: We did a show in Manhattan, KS, with Chris LeDoux. My dad, Kyle, had come down to see the show, and I got him on stage to do a couple songs. There were about 35,000 people there, and he ended up signing a ton of autographs that day. I always looked up to him so much as a performer, it felt good to show him off a little bit.

    Iím pretty proud anytime we get to do a show like the one above. Weíve done some good shows and opened for some big names, and every time that happens, I feel like itís an accomplishment in itself.

    Q: Whoís your biggest critic, yourself or others?

    A: Definitely me.

    Q: When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

    A: If weíve been traveling for awhile, itís nice to come home and just be lazy for a couple days. Iíll just camp out on the couch and watch TV. Nothing too exciting, but if youíre gone a lot, sometimes being at home can be the best vacation.

    Q: Is there anything in your life that you would change if you could?

    A: No. Iím pretty content.

    Q: What private hopes and desires do you have?

    A: This is kind of out there, but if the music thing really took off, part of me has always had an interest in acting. I donít know if anything like that would be in my future, but itís something Iíve thought about privately.

    Q: Whatís the biggest disappointment in your life been?

    A: Not having a hit record in my dadís lifetime. I always wanted to do that for him.

    Q: Many European fans travel to Nashville for Fan Fair because of the opportunity to see so many of their favorite stars at the same time. Will you be participating and how will the fans be able to find you?

    A: I might be around, but I donít have plans to do anything at Fan Fair in an official capacity.

    Q: When youíre on tour, do you have time to play tourist?

    A: Definitely. Seeing new places is half the fun.

    Q: Can your European fans look forward to seeing you in concert in the future?

    A: I certainly hope so. I mentioned my Norwegian heritage. Maybe someday Iíll have to do a big Scandinavian tour.

    Q: Many music fans today get their information about artists via the internet. Do you have your own website and what information can the fans find out about you on the internet?

    A: Our website is www.dustinevans.com and contains things like the band bio, tour info, merchandise, a message board, and pictures of the band. Please check it out.

    Q: What are your plans for the future and how can new fans keep informed about you?

    A: The websiteís homepage contains a personal message that I update from time to time that lets people know what weíre up to. Thereís also a place to sign up for a newsletter that I email every so often.

    Q: Whatís the best compliment a fan has ever given you?

    A: Well, I donít know if Iíd consider him a "fan", but Neal McCoy introduced me to some people and told them I was a really great entertainer. That meant a lot coming from him, because his live show is one of the best Iíve ever seen.

    Q: Whatís your favorite song that you didnít record and why?

    A: My dad did a version of "Statue Of A Fool" that I loved as a child.

    Q: What message would you like to send to your European fans?

    A: First of all, thank you for your interest, and I would love to get the opportunity to visit there someday. Itís very flattering to hear about folks that far away taking a liking to what we do, and I hope I continue hearing it. Take Care!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Stuart, Florida

    thanks for sharing all that Kurt

    I read every word. Your daddy was one amazing man. You must be very proud of him and Dustin.

    I took note of the following from the interview with Dustin because of recent PG discussions about about radio and how it's controlled.

    Q: If you had a chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

    A: I wish radio wasnít dictated by major label personnel. In the old days, anyone could get a fair shake on the radio, provided they made good music. Nowadays, radio in America is hand-fed by the suits in Nashville, and program directors rarely deviate from the national songlist theyíre given. The internet is going to shake things up quite a bit. Artists are becoming available to the masses whether Nashville likes it or not. More labels will surely buckle in the very near future, and hopefully having an opinion will once again become part of a DJís job description.
    Also, isn't Jerrod Niemann from SD?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by fuzzwuzz
    ... isn't Jerrod Niemann from SD?
    I'm pretty sure Jerrod's from Kansas.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Stuart, Florida

    now I see my confusion!

    It's Jerrod's work with your brother Dustin in SD that had caught my eye.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by fuzzwuzz
    It's Jerrod's work with your brother Dustin in SD that had caught my eye.
    Ah yes, in the fall of 2003. I've been thinking I'd heard "That Girl Is A Cowboy" somewhere before. Maybe Jerrod played it at that show.

    A large crowd gathered to watch a hometown boy come home and perform. Dustin Evans, son of the late Kyle Evans, performed with friend Jerrod Niemann at the Opera House in Wessington Springs Wednesday.

    Evans is no stranger to people in the Wessington Springs area, but Niemann might be. He grew up in Liberal, Kan., lived in Ft. Worth, Texas, and now calls Nashville, Tenn., home. But for a few nights this week, South Dakota felt like home to this country singer.

    "South Dakota reminds me a lot of Kansas," he said. "So it feels like home."

    Niemann started playing music as a young boy and has flourished ever since.
    "I've always done it," he said.

    He knew he loved it so much that he attended a college that teaches students how to sing "commercial music."

    He's also had a chance to write songs with Garth Brooks.

    "He's a good guy," he said of Brooks.

    Niemann spent a few days last weekend in Oklahoma with Brooks working on some songs. The two have worked together several times before.

    "He actually gave me the guitar I'm going to use tonight," Niemann said.

    With only a few minor mishaps - Niemann lost his luggage on his flight from Nashville to Omaha, and he and Evans had to borrow a car to get from Sioux Falls to Wessington Springs - the duo performed for nearly a full house in the newly refurbished Opera House in Evans' hometown.

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