CATCHING UP WITH ... ROYAL WADE KIMES

A Dyin' Breed

Royal Wade Kimes is a man on a mission - to put the Western back into country music. He's making good on that claim with his new CD, A Dyin' Breed, packed with cowboy songs and tunes that time-travel back to the Old West.

And helping him ride that trail is a famous sidekick - Royal's buddy Garth Brooks, who sings with Royal on the "Night Birds" duet. "Garth has always believed in me," he declares; they've been friends since the early '90s.

Royal wholeheartedly believes in his CD, due in stores Sept. 17. "This is not just a collection of songs," says the former working cowboy with measured pride. "This has a theme - putting into words the old cowboy values like hard work and being an individual."

After one big hit, "We Bury The Hatchet," with his former record label, Royal cut an independent album titled Hangin' Around The Moon in 2000. With little money to promote the record, he rolled up his sleeves, hit the road and became a one-man sales force.

"I crammed about 5,000 copies into my car and sold them at my shows," he recalls. "I wanted to make a point - that you can do this if you're willing to work hard." His stick-to-it attitude paid off, as the album received the Will Rogers Masters Award from the Academy of Western Artists for Album of the Year.

Royal's heroes - in the words of a famous country hit - have always been cowboys. "Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne ... they stood for what was right," he smiles. "I talk about those heroes on the song 'Good Guys' that's on this album."

He adds, "I think I might have found a niche with this music. But I know it's gonna take a lot of push to get it out there."

He won't be pushing alone, though. Royal's label, Wonderment Records, is pumping out a heavy sales campaign, promoting the album on CMT, GAC, MSNBC, Fox and other cable TV networks. A Dyin' Breed is also available through Royal's website, royalwadekimes.com.

Flashing a confident smile, Royal seems more than ready to meet the challenge. "Hey, I've had a bull whirl me around and knock me out. Another time, a black bull kicked me right in the stomach.

"So I think," he pauses and grins, "I can pretty much take anything that comes my way."

-- Bob Paxman

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