RON KEEL TOUR DIARY
Part One & Two
Ron Keel is on the road with his "Acoustic Outlaws" tour, featuring himself and other players that we all know and love. Whenever Mr. Keel has an update from the road, we’ll post it here for all to see. Let’s begin!
This will be a chronicle of my activities for the next month – two weeks with my new Acoustic Outcasts project, and then two weeks on tour with IronHorse. Thanks to all the sites that are including this tour diary and to all the fans for hanging out with us on-line and at the shows.
The Acoustic Outcasts Tour is a collection of some of my good friends, and some of – in my opinion – the best voices in Rock, banded together to create an acoustic format in which we can showcase those voices and our songs. In addition to myself, the cast includes Terry Ilous (XYZ), Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge, Michel Schenker, George Lynch, Blue Murder), Charlie Wayne (Keel & Wayne), and guitarist JK Northrup (XYZ, King Kobra, etc). During the course of the show, everyone will be performing solo, and in various combinations, and ultimately all together as a group. The first show, in Nashville Tennessee, also features vocalist Danny Vaughn (Tyketto, Waysted).
The tour kicks off in Nashville on Thursday July 28, and the first leg is concentrated in Ohio July 29-August 6. All the dates can be found at http://acousticoutcasts.com
Acoustic Outcasts Tour Diary:
Day 1: Thursday July 28 2005 – 6:22 am Central Standard Time
Exhausted. I’ve had about 6 hours sleep the last three days. As I throw down my first pot of coffee, it’s time to start my on-line tour diary, part of my ongoing effort to bring the fans behind the curtain and get a glimpse of what goes on in my world. So here goes.
Two nights ago, Charlie and I picked up Terry Ilous, Kelly Keeling, and JK Northrup at the Nashville airport. In order to impress our friends and get the tour started on a good note, we had enlisted the services of a good friend who is a limousine driver to pick us up at the airport…shortly before pickup time, he called to inform us he was running late but no problem, he was sending another driver & car for us.
When we exited the airport – 5 grown men with luggage and guitars – we were greeted by a guy in the equivalent of a Honda Civic…no way we were gonna fit in that. I thought to myself, it’s only taken 5 minutes for the spirit of Spinal Tap to rear its ugly head…
Luckily they sent a new, bigger, longer, and more appropriate stretch limo within about twenty minutes and we were on our way.
Once we arrived at Charlie’s house, it didn’t take long for the guitars to come out and the music started to flow – I didn’t want to push too hard right out of the gates, I knew the guys were tired from a long day of traveling, but everybody was excited to finally be together and there was no stopping us.
When we first heard all the voices in harmony, eyebrows started to raise, eyes got real big, jaws were dropping, smiles all around – it was that moment when we knew this was going to work, that we had something special. I am extremely lucky to have assembled not only a group of really nice guys who are easy going and fun to work with, but the talent level in this ensemble is through the roof. And NO egos – with a room full of lead singers, something like this could be disastrous, but I haven’t seen even a tiny glint of it.
Yesterday, the guys made the rounds in Nashville; meeting with our video director Peter Lippman – in addition to filming the debut concert for a live DVD, Peter is assembling a video compilation/montage that will be featured in the opening segment of the show. Everybody brought their videos, and discussed which clips and which moments they wanted included in the compilation – there will be KEEL footage, XYZ, Keel & Wayne, Kelly singing with MSG, etc all edited together and shown on the stage TV (more about that later).
After numerous other errands, including a stop at World Music in Nashville, everyone gathered for rehearsal again. Danny Vaughn was on board for this one, so the circle was complete and we spent the day ironing out the songs, learning harmony parts, assigning various voices to various verses or harmonies, working out arrangements, deciding who was going to accompany who on what song, what songs we’re all doing together, and so on. The show is complicated this way – there are no opening acts, there is no headliner, we are performing pretty much as if we were a band. There are showcase spots throughout the show, where each of us will perform alone, and then there are all sorts of various combinations. For instance, JK Northrup joins me & Charlie for “Tears Of Fire”…Kelly Keeling accompanying Danny Vaughn for “Forever Young”…all of us together shouting out “Face Down In The Gutter”…
After rehearsal, we assembled the show sequence – 30 songs, 2 ½ hours of music. Then everyone broke for dinner, I went home and continued working on the business and the preparation and other tasks that come with my role as ringmaster of this traveling circus. Not to mention packing – and not only gear, clothes, and personal items, but also the furniture. The Acoustic Outcasts stage is set to look like my living room, with easy chairs, coffee table, rugs, lamps, the aforementioned TV, even a refrigerator to keep my beer cold and at arms’ length…this is going to be cool, and a comfortable and interesting environment in which to put on this show. If we can do our best to bring the audience into our living room, and see and hear what I’ve seen and heard the past couple of days in rehearsals, then I believe we’ll be delivering a highly entertaining show that will be a unique experience for the artists and the fans.
So today it begins – the first show of any tour is akin to getting a jumbo jet off the ground: you’ve got to check all your instruments, make sure everything works, make sure your staff and crew are all on the same page, get everything up to speed, and hopefully you’ve got enough airspeed for takeoff. From songlists to speakers, cables, picks, signal processors, effects pedals, all the guitars, keyboards, microphone stands, guitar stands, the checklist goes on and on and on. While we’re speaking about gear, we all want to thank Dean Guitars – me, Charlie, Kelly, Jeff, and Terry will all be playing our Dean guitars proudly during every performance. Also thanks to Ultimate Support Systems, and Morley Pedals. And to Metal Sludge, Hard Rock Haven, and all the other web sites who are including this Tour Diary on their site and helping us promote the Acoustic Outcasts Tour.
After the show tonight, we have a 9-hour drive to Columbus Ohio for two nights in a row at Cadillac Jack’s, so there will be no rest for the wicked. I’ll post my next entry as soon as we get checked into the hotel in Columbus and I have a spare minute.
Subsequent entries will most likely be a little more brief…until the last day of the tour, when I’ll probably just utter “aaarrrgghhhh…”
Day 3: Saturday July 230 2005 – 12:23 Eastern Standard Time
2 awesome shows so far – this is my first opportunity to catch up and update you on our escapades. I can’t remember having this much fun, working this hard, or being this tired…but it’s so worth it.
Rewind to the night before last – it seems like weeks ago when we kicked off the Acoustic Outcasts Tour in Nashville. As I mentioned in my first entry, the initial show of any tour is a trying ordeal – and this was no exception. Setting the stage is an adventure in itself – it’s like moving your whole house every day, bringing in chairs and lamps and my precious fridge. And musically, it’s like having six lead guitarists and six lead vocalists in the same band – and the vocalists are all switching microphones during the show, so monitor mixes and harmony blends are quite a challenge. Plus at the Nashville show, we were setting up for a live DVD filming, so extra lighting had to be brought in.
After soundcheck, we had a quick half hour to get cleaned up and changed, then a photo session, then before I had time to breathe or even think, the video intro to our show was on the big screen and it was time to rock. The performance begins with a video compilation of footage from KEEL, XYZ, Kelly singing with Michael Schenker, a Baton Rouge video, the new Keel and Wayne video, some interview footage…
Here’s the songlist from the first night:
Show On The Road – (Ronnie & Charlie)
Pain Free – (Charlie & Ronnie)
Wings – (Danny, Ronnie, Charlie)
Is That All There Is – (Danny, Ronnie)
Rainy Day – (Terry & JK)
Got To Believe – (Terry & JK)
Perfect Day – (Kelly)
There Was A Time – (Kelly)
People Get Ready – (Everyone)
The Time Of My Life – (Ronnie)
Bring It On – (Ronnie, Charlie, Danny)
Little Ditty – (JK Northrup solo instrumental)
After The Rain – (Terry)
What’s On Your Mind – (Terry & JK)
In His Shadow – (Charlie & Ronnie)
Harley Davidson – (Charlie)
We All Fall Down – (Kelly, JK, Danny, Ronnie)
Heaven Tonight – (Danny)
Tears Of Fire – (Ronnie, Charlie, Jeff)
Forever Young – (Danny & Kelly)
Never Look Back – (Charlie, Everyone)
Can’t Find My Way Home – (Everyone)
Inside Out – Because The Night – Walks Like A Woman – Lay Your Body Down – Shooting Star – Face Down In The Gutter
The Right To Rock/Rock & Roll All Night/Smooth Up In Ya
Two and a half hours of magic. I know we were all a little apprehensive beforehand, wondering if this concept and lineup would work – and then to see the looks on each other’s faces, the smiles, knowing that we were on to something, was a killer moment in time for me.
Of course reality came crashing down after the show, and we were faced with a nine-hour drive to Columbus Ohio – but we made it and grabbed a much needed and well deserved two-hour nap before setup and soundcheck.
Danny Vaughn could not come join us for these shows, and we do miss him – he is an incredible singer, his songs are great (I especially love “Is That All There Is”, and dug singing it with him) – and he’s a hell of a guy, perpetual great attitude…he’s here with us in spirit. Without him, we were able to add some other songs from the rest of us.
Great crowd at Cadillac Jack’s in Grove City Ohio last night – a lot of friends, family, and hardcore fans, some of which made road trips from Virginia, Cleveland, all over…my bandmates Geno Arce & Gaetano Nicolosi from IronHorse came to hang with us. This was a bigger stage, and allowed us more freedom of movement…and again, the songs and the voices took centerstage. I love how the show builds, beginning with me, then Charlie, then Terry & JK, and Kelly, and then finally we’re all on stage together.
We added a new segment to the show last night – the “Let’s Call A Rock Star Moment”. I kept my cell phone on the fridge next to me, and right in the middle of the show, I called our friend Don Dokken…There’s a lot of common history with Don: he produced Terry’s debut XYZ CD, he’s worked with Kelly a lot, he and I shared tour dates back in the day, he sang on “I Said The Wrong Thing To The Right Girl” on the KEEL album, so it was only right that he should be the featured phone call of the show…
And we got through, no voice mail bullshit, we got the man on the line, put him on the speaker phone. We took this opportunity to make the official announcement – Don Dokken will be joining the Acoustic Outcasts Tour in September as our headliner, we’ll be announcing the dates soon. Don said he was going to keep it simple, he’s just bringing guitars and a box of condoms…”Not for me, for you guys…”, he said…
The show progressed from mellow to mayhem, from whispers to shouts – when the entire lineup does the grand finale and brings it home, it is absolutely out of control. The party continued at the hotel, with good friends, lots of beer, and more music – Kelly, Charlie & I worked out the Schenker song “Armed And Ready” and we’ll add that to the show tonight.
In all, this is an unforgettable experience for me, and we’re still just getting started. Tonight we’re at the same venue; it’s somewhat of a relief to have a 2-nighter with no traveling or packing up.
I’ll let you know how it unfolds…