IF YOU'RE GONNA TAKE ON THE WORLD - FIGHT LIKE A BAND
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Ron Keel Band has released their new album SOUTH X SOUTH DAKOTA, a celebration of southern rock classics featuring the music of Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Outlaws, Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, Creedence and more, on the HighVolMusic label.
During recording sessions for their 2019 original album release FIGHT LIKE A BAND, the band warmed up each day by ripping through some of their favorite southern rock classics; what started as a fun way to loosen up in the studio has now become a powerful musical statement.
“At first, we didn’t even know Mike (producer Mike Dresch) was recording,” Ron says. “We were just having fun. But of course, Mike records everything we do, and when I started listening back I realized that we had something special on our hands.
“South X South Dakota is really cool way to pay tribute to those southern rock heroes that provided such a big part of the soundtrack of our lives, while introducing a new generation of fans to these timeless songs.”
The album’s first single and video is “Red White & Blue,” originally recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Dealing with the “social distancing” required during the global 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, the band members were each filmed at separate iconic locations including Mt. Rushmore. Another featured track is “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” a hard rocking duet which pairs the Metal Cowboy with the powerhouse vocalist Jasmine Cain (2016 Nashville Music Awards “Artist Of The Year”).
RKB’s cover of the Outlaws classic “Ghost Riders In The Sky” (produced by Henry Paul) was the debut single and video when they were known as the “Badlands House Band,” and “Homesick” (originally recorded by Atlanta Rhythm Section) was their 2017 summer single. Both of those recordings are included in the new SxSD collection.
“For 10 years during the 80’s, Hollywood was home,” Keel reflects. “But I was born in Georgia as the son of a construction worker, and Nashville’s where I got my start as a recording artist. My fans as well as my critics all know that I have one foot on either side of the tracks; there’s a common thread here that ties it all together – toughness and twang as Metal and Country collide on sacred southern ground.”
Southern Rock is one of the truest all-American art forms. Like me, it was born in the south; and like me, it’s a bastard child of country and rock n roll with a glorious and tragic history.
After growing up with my father’s Johnny Cash records and my sister’s Beatles songs, the soundtrack of my teenage years was dominated one minute by Judas Priest and by the Eagles the next, the needle of my turntable bouncing back and forth from Bob Seger to KISS. I loved the live albums – “KISS Alive,” Seger’s “Live Bullet,” “Frampton Comes Alive,” Rush’s “All The World’s A Stage.” Before I was old enough to go to concerts, these albums were as close as I could get. Then in the Fall of 1976 I got my first Lynyrd Skynyrd album – “One More From The Road” – and instantly I was hooked.
By the time I arrived in Nashville in ’79, bands like Marshall Tucker, Outlaws, and Allman Brothers had firmly become part of the fabric of my musical personality. I group the Eagles into that bunch also because if they had been from anywhere but California they would have been Southern Rock too; John Fogerty and CCR were also a huge influence on me (they were Southern Rock before the Allman Brothers, in my opinion). When I moved to Nashville I didn’t have a band – all I had was a guitar, and these were songs I could sit and play and sing by myself, and this style of music was what I was writing. One record exec at the time referred to me as “Twang Petty” before promptly showing me the door.
When Hard Rock & Metal became my salvation and my ticket to the big time, I did leave my Country side behind and enjoyed a magnificent decade of decadence and debauchery, the soundtrack of which were buzzsaw guitars, thunderous anthems with piercing high screams. But when all that came crashing down, I had nowhere left to go but home.
Home to the Arizona desert with an acoustic guitar and a broken heart. And then ultimately back to Nashville with my musical evolution complete, as I combined my love of Metal with my love of Country and created a hybrid style I referred to as “hard rocking southern country metal.”
Not surprisingly, it sounded a lot like Southern Rock.
During my second stint in Nashville, I was lucky enough to rub elbows with some of the giants of that genre. Henry Paul (Outlaws) was kind enough to let us cut one of his songs and sing a duet with me (“Dixie Highway”); original Marshall Tucker guitarist George McCorkle gave us an amazing unrecorded song to cut (“The Best Move”). And somehow I ended up in a rehearsal studio singing “Sweet Home Alabama” with the guy who wrote it (Ed King), jamming .38 Special tunes with original guitarist Jeff Carlisi, and there were guys from Wet Willie and Atlanta Rhythm Section at those sessions too.
Henry Paul remained a friend and mentor, and when we put this band together in 2015 he agreed to come to Sioux Falls and produce our debut single, “Ghost Riders In The Sky.” We followed that up with “Homesick,” and we’re very proud to finally include those two tracks on this album release, along with some of my favorite songs from Southern Rock’s most iconic artists.
Most of these tracks happened very organically in the studio as we were working on the “Fight Like A Band” sessions or just having fun. I found out later that producer Mike Dresch was actually recording those jams, and upon hearing some of the tracks it was obvious we had the makings of something special.
Some songs like “Flirtin’ With Disaster,” “Ramblin’ Man” and “Rockin’ Into The Night” are pretty faithful to the originals, while you can tell we took a lot of liberties with some of the other tunes, giving them our own “Keelization” treatment…I hope my old buddy George McCorkle approves of my hard rockin’ version of his classic “Fire On The Mountain.” I think he will…
Whether you grew up on this stuff like I did or not, there’s a common thread here that ties it all together – toughness and twang as Metal and Country collide on sacred southern ground. Thanks for listening.
1) Train Train
2) Rockin’ Into The Night
3) Don’t Misunderstand Me
(featuring Jasmine Cain)
4) Red White & Blue
5) Flirtin’ With Disaster
6) Ramblin’ Man
7) Fire On The Mountain
8) Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up
To Be Cowboys
10) Ghost Riders In The Sky
(produced by Henry Paul)
11) Creedence Medley LIVE