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.