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Ron Keel Band – South X South Dakota

Ron Keel is a name synonymous with classic metal. Ron was a staple on the decadent L.A. metal scene of the 80’s, first with his band Steeler and then Keel. This is a guy that lived through his time with a young Yngwie Malmsteen and plotted global takeover with Kiss demon, Gene Simmons. He’s been everywhere and seen everything. He’s sold millions and felt the sting of the industry slamming the proverbial door in his face. Ron Keel is a survivor. He’s the metal cowboy.

Keel grew up in Savannah, Georgia. His roots are in the South and he’s always carried himself as a hard-working American patriot. His years after Keel and the tragic death of the LA metal scene in the 90’s found him delving into country music as Ronnie Lee Keel, and cutting some of the heaviest music of his life with his Saber Tiger project. In 2015, Keel found himself making his home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is where he began working as a top radio personality and fronting the Badlands House Band. He would meet his musical comrades in this time period and create the Ron Keel Band we know today.

The first thing you’ll probably notice when you start this thing up is how much its motor growls. Like an American made V8 with a thirsty carburetor, the Ron Keel Band that explodes out of the speakers here is a badass street machine. They kick this album of Southern Rock covers off with the killer Blackfoot tune “Train Train,” and that chugging riff helps set the pace for a raucous party.

The production quality on
South X South Dakota is something of note. It plays a large part in the overall appeal of the record. The band comes across like a top shelf Whiskey, with Keel’s voice the double shot glass holding it all together, but it’s the punch of the production that plays bartender and keeps serving up the true spirits that live in this music. From the band dropping the sledgehammer opening power chords of .38 Special’s “Rockin’ Into The Night,” to the sharp acoustic strumming and harmonies of Marshall Tucker’s “Fire On The Mountain,” the sound is pristine. I can hear each voice and each string -- hell, I can even hear the bass line. The levels on the mix are perfect, which highlights the tight band that made the music.

The song choice here is also something of note. It isn’t all Southern hard rock or country. There’s some flow and flavor to this backyard barbecue. Keel’s love of hard rock and metal shines through with the bite of things like the aforementioned “Rockin’ Into The Night” and Atlanta Rhythm Section’s “Homesick,” but his love of harmonies and pure American rhythm and soul lives and breathes on things like the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man” or the classic “Ghost Riders In The Sky.” The eloquence and patriotic spirit of Skynyrd’s “Red, White & Blue” is a thing of beauty, and I especially want to mention the great song choice of Rossington-Collins Band’s “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” and point out an amazing vocal contribution from South Dakota native Jasmine Cain. She just electrifies the song and gives it a huge boost of energy. This record is just a beautiful journey through the history and landscape of American Southern music. 

So, saddle up your steed, or pull up a lawn chair and crack open a cold one. The Metal Cowboy, Ron Keel, and his band of mass destruction are holding the reins and in control of a record with more horsepower than anything I’ve driven in quite some time.



The Metal Cowboy Rides Again: 
The Ron Keel Interview

Ron Keel, The Metal Cowboy, is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Even if he didn't have the world of hair metal in the palm of his hand or he wasn't a great singer, he would still be the guy you want to hang out with. But, Ron Keel is a great singer and he did conquer the L.A. metal scene of the 80's, and he lives to tell the tale.

On May 6, 2020, in the midst of a home quarantine order due to the COVID-19 virus, Ron Keel took an hour of his precious time to talk with me about his entire career. I am forever honored and grateful, and I am thrilled to share his kind and caring spirit with you here! 

Click the play button below to hear Ron Keel!! 

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