2010 was a fantastic year for Portland-based Keegan Smith. Smith won Male Artist of the Year for the second year in a row at the Portland Music Awards after he took home the award for Best Live Performance in 2009. He showcased with his band at the 9th annual 2010 Florida Music Festival in Orlando and received rave reviews from attending industry reps and festival organizers. Jim Abbott, music critic at Florida's Orlando Sentinel says Keegan Smith & the Fam were “a captivating surprise from the Pacific Northwest” and “the find of the festival.” Keegan was also featured in each televised pre-game show during the 2009-2010 Portland Trailblazer season.
2011 was an amazing one as well, with Keegan and the band taking home yet another award for Best Live Performance in the 2011 Portland Music Awards, and four of Smith’s songs appeared on the soundtrack to the new movie “The Frankenstein Brothers”, released in late fall 2011.
2012 is shaping up to be the best year yet. In addition to regular tours, festivals and appearances across the country, Keegan recently licensed songs for Nike and gDiapers, both for international ad campaigns, as well as licensing songs for many other companies, tv commercials, movies and online campaigns. He has also been commissioned to create the entire soundtrack for a documentary called "Green Light: The Sustainable Oroville Project", due out in fall 2012.
Keegan is the charismatic front man of an extremely talented rotating group of veteran musical heavyweights, producers, and bandleaders from the Northwest's thriving music scene. He creates an energetic and entertaining sound that captivates audiences of every age. Orlando Sentinel's music critic again says, “this is a band of monster players.” Portland's Willamette Week reviews the Fam saying, “[their] stuff is like musical summer” and “life's a little sunnier when listening to them.”
"Special Delivery", Keegan Smith's 2009 studio album release, documents the hardships, physical struggles, and pure, unabashed joy associated with being a new parent. The album displays Smith's art form poetically, while stylistically flowing between the genres of acoustic pop, disco-funk, and reggae-blues, all while infusing an electronic backdrop to create an ethereal, ear-pleasing experience. "Special Delivery" has won three different categories in the World Wide Effigy Awards: Best Adult Contemporary Song ("Morning Comes"), Best Reggae Song ("Just Fine") and Best Adult Contemporary Artist. He was nominated for Best Adult Contemporary Song ("Smile") in the 2009 Hollywood Music in Media Awards and Keegan and the band walked their first red carpet at LA's famous Kodak Theater in November. The song "Smile" was also a finalist in this year's Pop and Adult Contemporary categories for the Great American Song contest.
In the time between touring and playing festivals, Keegan is writing and recording material with several producers for a new studio album to be released later this year.
Adjustments to line-up can vary, depending on needs of venue/client. Smith’s band includes Keegan Smith (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Chard (Bass), Justin Dodge (Keys), Tyrone Hendrix (Drums), Josh Wuerth (Guitar).
Live in PDX Vol. 1 (2011)
Keegan Smith's Special Delivery (2009)
Live @ Mississippi Studios (2007)
Out of the Darkness (2005)
Local Artist (2001)
2010 - No Drama, Just Music at FMF
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No drama, just music at FMF Commentary April 29, 2010|By Jim Abbott, SOUNDBOARD What's the Flor...No drama, just music at FMF
April 29, 2010|By Jim Abbott, SOUNDBOARD
What's the Florida Music Festival without a little drama? Well, this apparently was the year to find out.
The annual Orlando music confab, which will hit the decade milestone next year, has been consistently picked out in some corners of the local scene for its obvious mainstream inclinations. And, seemingly every year, the event finds itself coping with some melodramatic sidebar:
There was the year that the Social, arguably downtown's signature club for indie-minded acts, declined to participate over a booking squabble. In yet another edition, Orlando manager-promoter Jeff Hanson (Creed) opted to mount his own mini-parking lot event in the wake of some similar dissatisfaction.
Last year, there was the emergence of the Orange You Glad Festival, a competing event based at Will's Pub and the other clubs on the Mills Avenue corridor that have never been included in the pedestrian-friendly, downtown-centric FMF. Organizers professed no ill-will toward FMF; it was just a coincidence that the inaugural OYG happened in the same week.
This year, all that seemed to be in the past. For the most part, there were healthy crowds and a better vibe than at least year's event, which seemed flat to me.
"I think the economy is a little bit better," said Gerard Mitchell of the Social and Foundation Presents. "I think people are up for it more. People are really following the bands and I think the festival has matured and stood the test of time."
The Saturday slate of showcases was the most consistently engaging of the week: a mixture of reliable hometown favorites and a captivating surprise from the Pacific Northwest.
On the reliable front: Thomas Wynn & the Believers were as fiery as ever on Wall Street. (On Sunday, the band was the winner of Orlando's finals of Hard Rock's Ambassadors of Rock band battle, which moves the group a step closer to snagging a slot at the Hard Rock Calling fest this summer in London.)
Wynn and the band previewed a song off their upcoming album: "Counting My Days" unfolded as a spiritually minded ballad, although the harmonies and Chris Bell's echoey harmonica added the requisite Southern grit.
My fave festival find was the reggae/jam-band/jazz of Keegan Smith and the Fam, an eclectic outfit from Portland, Ore., that played two nights at Tanqueray's. The Saturday set drew a handful of label reps and promoters impressed by the band's demo submission at the FMF industry panels.
The latest Orlando homecoming by Steve Burry and the Battle Sigh drew a big crowd at the Social. The set had muscle and melody, with guitarist Greg Perkins making the most of his effects rack.
Another hometown act, Sound Cannon, delivered on the enthusiastic pre-show hype of singer Trevor Durning, who "happened" to bump into me so many times that I thought he might have been stalking me.
The hits were balanced by a few misses: The clichéd, head-bobbing metal of St. Valentine's Massacre, for a late-night crowd of about 10 people on Friday at Lyrica, was totally Spinal Tap — only sad, not funny. And the sound mix at Wall Street was occasionally inhospitable, especially in an otherwise solid set by Orlando country singer Johnny Bulford.
There was more good stuff. The best? I'd vote for Jimi Kill, the new project featuring 19-year-old DeLand guitar prodigy James Killgallon (No Circus) and a raft of killer players: Guitarist Brian Chodorcoff, bassist Chris Pratile, drummer Anthony Manzo, and singers Kaleigh Baker and Betty Fox.
A mid-May gig in DeLand is on the horizon, the kid told me. I'd recommend you be there.
2009 Tony Cowell's Artist Review of Keegan Smith
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The Cowell Factor Tony Cowell August 17th, 2009 "And I just have to mention Keegan Smith again....The Cowell Factor
August 17th, 2009
"And I just have to mention Keegan Smith again. I’ve talked up his song Smile on the Cowell Factor before. But seriously, this guy is probably the most polished performer I’ve heard on Fames Games this year. Check out his album Special Delivery. Keegan Smith deserves to be absolutely huge. And please…let me know what you think."
2009 - Fame Games Radio, Keegan Smith's Special Delivery Album Reviews
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FAME GAMES REVIEWS - www.meermusic.com/KeeganSmith Reviews for "Fresh Air" by Keegan Smith & The ...FAME GAMES REVIEWS - www.meermusic.com/KeeganSmith
Reviews for "Fresh Air" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
7/24/2009: What can I say... This is classy and catchy at the same time. A rare combination. This guy´s become one my favorites artists here virtually overnight. Check out his other stuff too! - Mark3
7/16/2009: This song instantly was different then anything i have reviewed on here so far! I like the voice, the hook is one that sticks on my head I listened again and again! NICE WORK! - MusicLOVESme
7/15/2009: Under the new rules on Fame Games, starting from Season 4 with ABC/CitadellMedia, only one song in 12 can get a BONUS from the Fame Games Panel. And your song was chosen! The Fame Games Panel hope that fans and reviewers will continue to support ALL the songs in this set, even though this is the one that got the majority vote BONUS today. - BONUS
7/12/2009: Beyond the underlying tenderness, this song shuffles seamlessly from this clean recorded version to a warm acoustic solo to an up-beat tempo which gets the dance floor dropping. - loriL
7/10/2009: Very funky and very cool. This one just gets in your head, and you can´t let it go! - dg3381
7/10/2009: I love the vibe of this tune! But I kind of feel that all of the synth robs from the natureal feel of the overal piece!! I think that this would have been pulled off much better with actual musicians!! - studioboss
6/22/2009: Good sound, indeed a breath of fresh air maybe some more work needed on producton and possibly a stonger hook but all in all very enjoyable. - cruncher
6/16/2009: I saw power pop and thought it would be some fast crap song but was surprised by this very mid tempo track. I really liked this, there is enough funky cool sounds to make this seem crossover but yet not so over processed that you´re gonna be sick of it in a week. Want to hear more, very cool and different. - JeremyJ
6/8/2009: I really like this, at the beginning sounded like rock, but then it kinda started to lean against R&B and Hip-Hop with the vocal effects. Very hooky chorus, i know this will be in my head for a few days now! Really like this and would like to hear more from you! - HonestAngel
Reviews for "Morning Comes" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
7/16/2009: Ok so this one is a little different I like it alot, it also has some similar elements to the song, the message is strong, I love the line ´´true is beauty like the leaf before the fall´´ or something close to that I listened twice!! I think I will just have to go buy this guys´s whole CD what a great find!! again Im loving it!! - MusicLOVESme
7/10/2009: Entro very smooth, then it just jumps! Ya gotta see this guy in person. - dg3381
7/2/2009: I like it! Very fresh and different! Great harmony and vocal! - valygirl
7/2/2009: Under the new rules on Fame Games, starting from Season 4 with ABC/CitadellMedia, only one song in 12 can get a BONUS from the Fame Games Panel. And your song was chosen! The Fame Games Panel hope that fans and reviewers will continue to support ALL the songs in this set, even though this is the one that got the majority vote BONUS today. - BONUS
6/22/2009: This reminds me of Keller Williams!!! I really loved this tune!! It`s a nitch audiance for sure,but when you are in that nitch...you`ll get it!! Cool song guys!! - studioboss
6/15/2009: funky touch,,real original,,a bit narrow for the charts,,but well done - kronk
6/5/2009: I love this song, it has a great feel. The harmonies are layered and tasteful. overall quality sounds top notch - SaraJohnson
6/5/2009: I love this song, I feel like the lyrics and vocals are a great compliment with a very catchy melody - JeremySerwer
Reviews for "Just Fine" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/7/2009: Top score on the vocal alone. The songs are always catchy from this guy and there´s an air of a future superstar here. Not his ´´best´´ song here, but by comparison to 99% of everything else by other artists, this is still an awesome song. Edgy
7/26/2009: I love this song... FEEL GOOD! Good vibes. martha
7/16/2009: Just Fine, this one is soooooo summer time music! I actually listened to this then had my whole household listen including the kiddos!! They loved it! reminds me of a sunny afternoon, with the breeze comn thru i love this tune! - MusicLOVESme
7/10/2009: This song just reaffirms that everything is gonna be ´´Just Fine´´. Well written and just gets in your blood! Very cool. - dg3381
7/8/2009: Under the new rules on Fame Games, starting from Season 4 with ABC/CitadellMedia, only one song in 12 can get a BONUS from the Fame Games Panel. And your song was chosen! The Fame Games Panel hope that fans and reviewers will continue to support ALL the songs in this set, even though this is the one that got the majority vote BONUS today. - BONUS
7/1/2009: I agree, great song but the production could be much better. I loved your voice but I think you’ll sound a lot better without the vocal effects. If this is redone professionally it could be successful because the potential is there. - rosebaby
6/17/2009: Great summer tune, cool groove! I can imagine myself sipping a pina colada listening to this track! - valygirl
6/16/2009: Helloooo, except for some not so pleasant vocal effects, this is very, very cool. You have somehow managed to make Reggae really cool and crossover. What a great song to hear in the summer! Great sway! - Chocolatebubbles
Reviews for "Smile" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/15/2009: This song was okay. I just had a hard time feeling this song. vocals were okay and the production could have been a lot better. vincentphotography79
8/15/2009: I couldn´t really get into this song. I didn´t care for the voice or the production. Some of the other´s in the semi´s were better. sorry crowthermedia
8/15/2009: Nice track but doesn´t rock me enough for my tastes. Undeniably great vocal though! Vic
8/14/2009: What a song... I will have this in my head for the rest of the day now! Lincs_Mike
8/14/2009: Amazing song... if this doesn´t touch you then you have a heart made of stone!!! Keeper
8/14/2009: Wow! This is sick. I was not sure on some of his other tracks but this one nails it! Rockin´ mellow tune there. Jebbyrap
8/14/2009: Parents all around the world probably had a moment there during this song. Excellent Keegan, you´re an amazing songwriter. I wouldn´t be surprise to hear this is a movie and on the radio someday, this is classy. Hard2Pleez
8/14/2009: Get the tissues out, because this is a tearjerker this one. The emotion is perfect. This could have been super cheesey but it wasn´t. The lyrics are straight from the heart and the vibe is amazing. AndreaAimee
8/14/2009: This is one of the better songs that I´ve heard so far but it´s not one of your best Keegan. I definitely like some of your other music better. wickedmusic23
8/14/2009: Very lovely heartfelt track. Great job! martha
8/14/2009: Charm just oozes from this song, starting with the vocal and ending with the arrangement. I´m touched! Edgy
8/13/2009: I wish I could write songs like this. It would get me girls non-stop. Nice one. Probably his best yet. JeremyJ
8/13/2009: Sweet feel good song. GDGuitar
8/10/2009: very relaxing....a feel good tune that takes it down a notch without being a sappy ballad. well done. victory
8/6/2009: Under the new rules on Fame Games, starting from Season 4 with ABC/CitadellMedia, only one song in 12 can be declared TRACK OF THE DAY by the Fame Games Panel. And your song was chosen. Congratulations! Please continue supporting ALL the songs in this set! TRACK-OF-THE-DAY
7/28/2009: Happy feel-good track. Wanna bring it to the beach. DorMoor
7/22/2009: GREAT VOICE and GREAT FEEL-GOOD SONG! Congrats on a job well-done. - sarahtallchief
7/22/2009: It says that this genre is pop, but think it´s more like R&B or something. This not the song that I would usually listen to, but this song really caught my attention, mostly because of his vocal and voice, but also because the beat, and the quality of the song was really great. All in all, great song, You can absolutely not say anything bad about the song. The song has great appeal, and you can´t stop loving this song - Barca
7/21/2009: In terms of song writing, you can´t really get much more positive than this. A father´s love for his child - not an easy subject matter to tackle without sounding incredibly twee, but this guy manages it, and he will have female hormones popping all over the world for his troubles, as well as being responsible for a few hidden lumps in many a young father´s throat. Excellently recorded too (although I REALLY wish that autotune had never been invented!) Even so however this is totally ready. - KenMorrison
7/16/2009: OMG! this is my favorite from this artist so far!! this i the HIT HIT HIT!! wow this one is so reminescent of so many GREAT artists, I think of Jason Mraz, or Dave Matthews when i hear this, but it has more! his sweet little cooing baby in the backround, I think or a great effect! either way, I truly LOVE this song I am going to buy it now!!! THANKS FAMEGAMES for connecting me with this artist! - MusicLOVESme
7/13/2009: What I really love about these guys is that they don`t stay in the same place musically!! This one is totally hookey and smooth!! Some hints of Dave Mathews in the vocals and guitar..TOO COOL!!! - studioboss
7/10/2009: Just an awesome song, brilliantly performed! - dg3381
7/9/2009: I have had my ears on you for a while, thinking to myself this could be another great artist coming through and boy was I right, I should get a job on the fame games panel. Great stuff. - cruncher
7/9/2009: If it were for a few unnecessary effects, this guy could give Jason Moraz a run for his money. Love, love, love this song. Couldn´t you just hear it in a movie. This song makes me tear up and smile all at the same time. Amazing. - Robin
7/9/2009: Wow, looks like we´ve found a gem here! Such a nice feel to this and great vocal. Great summer track. Love everything about this song and artist. Very unique sound also. I think he could do extremely well if given a chance! Great stuff! - HonestAngel
Reviews for "Breakdown" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
7/28/2009: I love your voice... I was groovin´ throughout this track... DorMoor
7/22/2009: As far as I´m concerned, this guy does no wrong. Listen, you will stay bouncin´ and swayin´ very quickly. excellent group and very original. 2 thumbs up! - Thumbs
7/14/2009: Love that bit about 2 minutes in when you go for it for about 30 seconds with no breathe. Very funky! Great sound and I hope this guy goes far, he has such a unique sound. - Hard2Pleez
Reviews for "Matchmaker" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/15/2009: Hard 2 pleez hit the nail on the head!! Although these guys are no doubt a great deal of fun to listen to..the vocal pattern is becomming somewhat predictable! studioboss
8/13/2009: I really enjoy Keegan´s vocal but after hearing many of his tracks, it seems that he picks the same few notes. The vocals on all of them are sounding too similar. Still enjoyable though. Hard2Pleez
8/6/2009: Ok, this isn´t funny anymore and getting quite annoyed. YOU ARE SUPERB and not OUT THERE MAKING MILLIONS!! You have a certain feel to your music that just makes me happy and bouncy. Lovely vocal tone, and a feel good song. Maybe not in your face catchy, but it doesnt need to be! HonestAngel
Reviews for "Dancing Shoes" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/26/2009: Here we go AGAIN!! Keegan anb the boys just keep knockin` them out of the park!! One fun little touch to this song is the juice harp!! When was the last time anyone heard THAT!! Another KILLER song guys!!! studioboss
8/16/2009: Very nice song. great vocals man! However, it sounds like something I´ve heard a few times in my life. abojabar6666
8/4/2009: Keegan Smithm You make me so excited in many ways! As soon as it started i was immediately grooving, and just wanna get up and dance to this, This guy is so talented! Every song of his so far has had IT!!!! This guy has to go far! HonestAngel
Reviews for "Witness" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/15/2009: Keegan and The Fam have done it again!! These guys are just about bullet proof !! They are one of those bands that you probablely wouldn`t hear much of on the radio..but everyone would have in their music collection!! studioboss
8/10/2009: I like this guy. Very funky and fun. I still think this music deserves a much better production. The X factor is definitely there for me. rubicon111
8/4/2009: You´re a seriously talented man. Your vocal is just so sexy, and this song also just wants to make you move. This is hooky, even though its not in your face! HonestAngel
Reviews for "Count My Sins" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/18/2009: I seriously love this band and their music every song makes me feel so damn good and this song for some reason makes me want to take my clothes and dance naked in the Sun on the beach just by the edge of the Sea! IndieAnnaJones
8/10/2009: Very fun song. Great singer with a really pleasant voice. I don´t like the wah wah guitar very much. The sound is too much (Too many effects). If this song had a more professional production it would be great. Big potential. Great lyrics for this type of music as well. rubicon111
8/3/2009: Here they go again!!! Yet another instantly lovable song!!! This makes me too chill to even give a high five!!! But I always have enough energy to tip my glass and say..GREAT JOB!!!! studioboss
Reviews for "Relapse" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/18/2009: Groooooovy! Loving the vibe going on! There are so many things the music does and for me ticks every box! Just turn it up and feel it!! Oooh Yeah Tinkerbella
8/12/2009: I love the singer and the feel of the song. The general sound could be better. waaay_out_loud
8/3/2009: I can`t say how many levels of COOL this song is!!! Keegan & The Fam just refuse to disapoint!! Another Fame Games KBS..( kick butt song )..for the world to hear!!!! Great job guys!!!! studioboss
Reviews for "Love Fall Down" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/18/2009: I really enjoyed the lyrics and the whole concept of this song I think everything was spot on and pure genius this band just continue to amaze me! I really think this is a sound that could really push boundries and push people to really listen and enjoy! MickeyCarnell
8/16/2009: Well what can I say...they can`t all be zingers!! I can hear the time they put into the production but this is still a yawner! Sorry Keegan.. not this time bro!! studioboss
7/30/2009: I dont know what to really say about this I like it alot but then I am not sure maybe a second listen will be the answer.... I am a fan of this band nonetheless. Love the vocal! At the end of the day the quality is there ! Jebbyrap
Reviews for "Call Me" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/16/2009: Here they go again..a whole new direction!! This is the coolest thing about Keegan and The Fam..you never know what they are going to through at you next!!! I love this song, it really gets you bouncin`!! Chalk up another one boys!! Great job!! studioboss
7/30/2009: I am a fan of this band as after every song I feel good and thats what I like music to do! Great groove great vibe but not the hit single more of a wicked album track but who cares really this is good! MickeyCarnell
Reviews for "Oregonic Acoustic" by Keegan Smith & The Fam:
8/26/2009: I can predict your future and your end Keegan! You will be signed to a Major label..have a world wide fan base..enjoy all that fame has to offer..and pass on as a happy and humble old man with more true good friends than you can count!!! HOW`S THAT!!! studioboss
8/18/2009: I am totally hooked on this band! I love the feel goodness that just oozes out and the pure stunning talent that shines through! Another classy piece of sunshine! SummerJade
7/30/2009: I am so in love with this vocal! Loving the vibe and groove! an instant smile on my face with the first 10 seconds! A song I couldnt get tired of! Nice! Tinkerbella
2009 - Keegan Smith's hugs, hellos bring in the fans
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by Jason Simms, Special to The Oregonian Saturday June 27, 2009, 10:05 AM At midnight on a weeke...by Jason Simms, Special to The Oregonian
Saturday June 27, 2009, 10:05 AM
At midnight on a weekend, it's easy to find drunk people dancing to top-40 songs in Portland. But to make mostly sober people dance their hearts out at 9 p.m. on a Monday is a feat -- one that Keegan Smith and the Fam perform weekly at the downtown Candlelight Cafe & Bar.
Last Monday, a crowd of more than 100 begins to stand as Smith opens with a freestyle rap about the band's gig in Bend the night before. Then the eight-piece band, which includes twins on backup vocals, launches into its jazz- and reggae-infused take on a 21st-century R&B revue. Picture Sublime meets Jack Johnson at Berklee.
Once the college kids start shaking their flip-flops on the dance floor, and his band begins taking solos, Smith quietly slips into the crowd -- the Candlelight is stageless -- and greets audience members with hugs and handshakes. Nichole Hoffman, a preschool teacher sitting at a table in the front, says Smith's interactions are what lured her in to the Fam.
Hoffman has been at the Candlelight more or less weekly since Smith began his residency there three years ago (she's missed a few weeks lately because she's nine months pregnant). What most impressed Hoffman on her first visit was how Smith "made a point to be friendly." He gave her a hug and "said goodbye by name."
Hoffman says she comes back because, "You almost feel like you're part of the performance." Her best friend, Shelli Maker -- they met at a Keegan Smith show -- agrees: "It's way nicer than dancing at clubs." Maker says when the Fam is playing, "You dance because the music moves you," not because you're trying to hook up.
Smith's music promotes the positive atmosphere. Many of the songs on Smith's latest album, "Special Delivery," were inspired by his newborn daughter. His father and two sisters attended Monday's show; one of his sisters manages the band.
Last Monday was Allison Wilson of Vancouver's first Keegan Smith show, and midway through, she's already sporting a temporary tattoo of the band's logo and has bought all three albums. "I've never experienced a band like this from Portland," says the R&B and funk fan.
Wilson is amazed at the size and energy of the crowd. "We thought there'd be no one here," she says. Rhonda Tefft, who has bartended at the Candlelight since before Smith began playing there, says Monday is the club's "best day during the week." She thinks Smith's brand of pop initially won over the room, which is more accustomed to blues shows, through "an open-door policy with other musicians."
By 11:30 on Monday, Keegan Smith and the Fam are ready to start the second set in front of a well-imbibed crowd. They played most of their signature tunes during the first set, so they prepare to relax a little and welcome some guests to jam.
As they tune up in front of pictures of jazz greats on the wall behind them, they have already succeeded in a creating a lively nightlife scene not unlike the clubs those legends trod in the mid-20th century.
And on a Monday night, no less.
Keegan Smith and the Fam at Candlelight Cafe & Bar
When: 9 p.m. Mondays
Where: 2032 S.W. Fifth Ave.
Admission: Free; 21 and over
Information: 503-222-3378, keegansmith.com
-- Jason Simms is a Portland freelance writer; email@example.com
2009 - Keegan Smith: Funky, eclectic, exuberant
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When I first walked into the Baghdad theater in Portland, I wasn't expecting much. I had been invite...When I first walked into the Baghdad theater in Portland, I wasn't expecting much. I had been invited to the CD release party for Keegan Smith and the Fam, a band I had never heard of but had won multiple Portland Music awards.
But when I was hustled through the "VIP" entrance, I was immediately faced with a huge crowd that blew away all my expectations.
Keegan himself walked among the crowd, greeting friends and talking to anyone who stopped him, while one of his opening acts, the Acoustic Minds, got everyone worked up.
During the entire show, Keegan gushed about his friends and family (including his wife and new baby, to whom he dedicates the new CD), which was endearing but also a little bit awkward.
However, Keegan's constant salutations to familiar audience members as well as his collaboration with the opening acts make it pretty obvious that his friends and close-knit fan base are responsible for a large part of his success.
When I got home and popped my complimentary copy of Smith's "Special Delivery" into my computer, the first thing I noticed was that its genre was listed as "easy listening."
While the album may seem vaguely reminiscent of easy listening, it in no way resembles the elevator music that immediately comes to mind.
The sound is eclectic, with guest musicians beat-boxing in some tracks, and other tracks use a method similar to that of T-pain's auto-tune (though it's hard for me to tell the difference between the auto-tune and talk box effects).
The CD is all the more impressive when you're lucky enough to see the live show.
Keegan's "easy listening" somehow managed to get almost the entire crowd up and dancing to the funky, eclectic and exuberant live sound.
While buying CDs has largely become a thing of the past, I would highly recommend going to of Keegan's live shows if you have the opportunity.
You will not be disappointed.
2009 - Keegan Smith and the Fam
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Keegan Smith And The Fam “Everything gonna be just fine,” sings local singer/songwriter Keegan Sm...Keegan Smith And The Fam
“Everything gonna be just fine,” sings local singer/songwriter Keegan Smith on his new album, “Special Delivery.” It’s hard to imagine letting the worries of the world overwhelm you while listening to these tunes – there’s a laidback island feel to them that sends out a warm, gentle glow. Summer may not have arrived yet, but Smith’s sunny music should tide you over until it gets here.
9 p.m. Saturday, May 2, Bagdad Theater, 3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., 503-236-9234, $15
2008 From many voices comes one ‘HYbrid’
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The Register-Guard: Ticket: Ticket The Register-Guard “Ticket” story header From many voice...
The Register-Guard: Ticket: Ticket
The Register-Guard “Ticket” story header
From many voices comes one ‘HYbrid’
By Serena Markstrom
Published: June 27, 2008 12:00AM
Lucky people have been to those shows where strangers look at each other as if to say “I know!” to indicate they are witnessing something special.
Keegan Smith had a show like that in early May at the Mission Theater in Portland. The stage was alight with a cast of Northwest all-stars who kept live music going for hours at a sold-out CD release party for “HYbrid,” a project he’s calling “urban Americana.”
See former Eugene resident Unkle Nancy, dripping sweat, ripping it up left-handed in his wild, percussive guitar style and belting out “you’re not my baby” as audience members sing back at the top of their lungs.
See Eugene’s young hip-hop wonders Lafa Taylor and Marv+Ellis, dressed in a loose-fitting formal jacket, singing and rapping their parts and those of producer and songwriter Big PZ.
See, stage left, the twins from Acoustic Minds, Jenni and Amanda Price, performing passionate backup vocals and solos, joined by soul singer Kristina Rae.
See the audience clear the way for guest tango dancers, who burn up the dance floor during what many involved in “HYbrid” consider its most “epic” song: “The Gathering.”
What a gathering it was. When it was all over, the man who had brought everyone together was visibly excited — and maybe a little relieved.
During a brief conversation, Smith would hint that this triumph could just as easily not have happened.
“I just wanted to make sure every voice was heard,” he said after the final song of the night, white button down shirt damp with perspiration.
Project almost didn’t happen
The idea came to Smith more than a year ago, but as late as last August he was unsure if he would “pull the trigger” on it.
“A year ago March, I got this great idea to basically create one touring band out of my band, the Acoustic Minds’ band and Marv+Ellis’ band,” Smith said during a recent phone interview. “With this intermixed band, we could maximize our contacts and really keep a crowd super-entertained for a long time.”
But to be a band, the group would need material. With so many moving parts, Smith figured the only way to create original music together would be to invite all his favorite people to his family’s cabin.
It can take a long time to make music solo, and even longer when there’s collaboration, but enough people were intrigued by or available for the project that Smith started planning. The isolation provided by the Mount Hood forest, 45 minutes from Portland’s bustle, would provide the focus.
The cabin is where he spent his last days of bachelorhood before marrying his wife, Angela, in 2002. He could invite what he thought of as the “Northwest Fresh All-Stars” — artists from blues, bluegrass, reggae, funk, soul and hip-hop backgrounds.
Smith’s almost decadelong relationship with Eugene-based Paul Bustrin, aka Big PZ, known primarily as a hip-hop producer, provided an obvious choice for his right-hand man on the project. Bustrin had introduced Smith to Garrick Bushek, who performs as Marv+Ellis. Smith enjoyed Marv+Ellis’ “Underwater Not Underground,” which mixed hip-hop vocals with live acoustic music and hip-hop production techniques.
But as the time approached for the retreat, Smith was still unsure if it was the right move. Angela was pregnant with their first child and he faced funding the project on his own while losing income from gigs to be up on the mountain.
Finally, he decided it could be the chance of a lifetime. Most everyone he talked to about the project wanted to participate — and it would be the last time in his life when he was not a father.
Smith offered Bustrin and Bushek a paid opportunity to live in the cabin for the duration of the project. Smith, Bustrin and Bushek each brought his own studio equipment.
They set up computers, instruments and work stations in the 2,000 square-foot cabin that can sleep up to 14. They hung microphones from the ceiling with yarn.
“The first month was rough,” Smith said. “It was so rough.”
Clashing egos, competitive natures and a need for each musician to figure out his role meant a slow start.
After the first couple of weeks, the only finished tracks were Bustrin’s “Saturday Night” and Unkle Nancy’s “Not My Baby.” Then something happened.
No one can fully explain what took place. Call it a fight or call it a disagreement, “The Gathering” was causing some friction.
Unkle Nancy thought it should be more dark and scary, Smith said. He told Bushek his lyrics weren’t about anything. Some of the guys thought Unkle Nancy’s parts should be shorter.
“ ‘The Gathering’ was mysteriously deleted,” Smith said. “I think it was because of the fight.”
The file from the recording session was gone, but they had an mp3. Attempts to rerecord imploded, so the version that ended up on “HYbrid” is derived from that mp3.
A very careful listener might hear a connection between “The Gathering” and “Road Trippin’,” a backstory that only contributes to “The Gathering” becoming a microcosm for what went down at the cabin.
The first night Unkle Nancy arrived at the cabin he and Smith, perhaps delirious at the hour, were making Bobby McFerrin-style mouth pops, hand slaps and jamming on guitars.
Bustrin started recording and laid down tracks for each guitar and captured the whimsical a cappella sounds.
The next day, Bustrin and Bushek slapped on their headphones and got to work at their respective stations.
Bushek threw out the guitar and produced drum lines, reusing sounds that worked in the beat he was creating.
“The Gathering” is a story. Unkle Nancy’s Spanish-style guitar parts add to the drama.
On the flip side, Bustrin kept both percussive sounds and guitar parts and came up with a hook-oriented and lighthearted driving song, “Road Trippin.’”
“There were so many little pieces,” Bushek said. “It was just a collaboration with everyone.”
All told, the all-stars occupied the cabin for two months. They laid down 50 songs pretty much from scratch. Most of them will forever be B sides. Others could show up on projects involved artists put out in the future.
When some of the artists heard “HYbrid,” they were upset. Naturally, the people who were at the cabin most were featured on the most tracks, but some felt left out.
In the six months between the time they pulled the microphones from the ceiling at the cabin, those hard feelings had softened. Smith noted that everyone but Paul Creighton from Intervision and Bustrin (who both had scheduling conflicts) performed at the CD release show.
“There were times where all those artists up there really created something special,” Bustrin said. “The songs that sound very alive and fresh, those are the ones you can tell there was a lot of camaraderie going on.
“It’s kind of cool to see the level of this album. It was such a creative fiesta going on. ...
“When you get a bunch of starters trying to be teammates, you get a bunch of tension. But I think we turned that tension into a positive force.”
Style has its roots in Eugene
That force is “Keegan Smith’s HYbrid,” 15 songs from about that many musicians. As a general rule, the person singing the lines is the person who wrote the lines.
Before Smith started tapping the roots of hip-hop, he worked reggae rhythms, guitars and vocal stylings into his songs. During the CD release show in May, his most prominent performances were on songs from his solo days.
But when people tell him that he doesn’t seem to be the focus of “HYbrid,” he explains his intention never was for it to be about his music. The idea was for a group of people he respected and admired to do something new.
“Basically, it is me taking genres of all these different people and putting it in my bowl and mixing it up,” Smith said.
Bustrin pointed out that what Smith is calling “urban Americana” has been brewing in the Northwest for years. He cited the Eugene scene 10 years ago, when such performers as singer-songwriter Shawn McDonald and Paul Wright were experimenting with it.
Acoustic singer-songwriter Mat Kearney was performing with those guys during that era.
Kearney is at his best when he eschews the rapping, but his efforts as an MC were documented on recordings, witnessed at shows here and even captured a little on his major label debut, “Nothing Left to Lose.”
“When it comes down to it, we basically did something no one in Portland or Eugene probably has ever done,” Bustrin said. “Indie artists roll up in the middle of nowhere in Mount Hood and create something.
“Of course it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s great.”
Copyright © 2008 — The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, USA
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2007 Live Review
[+ Show ]
Willamette Week Article [REGGAE FOLK] It's Portland, it's cold, and you find yourself yearning...Willamette Week Article
It's Portland, it's cold, and you find yourself yearning for brighter, happier days. Enter Keegan Smith & the Fam. This reggae-folk band Jack Johnsons its way through upbeat songs, spilling out jubilant lyrics about morning drives in convertible cars in the too-many-syllables-per-beat style made famous by bands like Sublime (and later bastardized by Crazy Town and LFO). Seriously, the Fam's stuff is like musical summer. Life's a little sunnier listening to them, and what's more, you won't find yourself singing the words "Scooby Doo-wop and Scooby snacks, I met a fly girl and I can't relax." Word.
Written by ANNIE BETHANCOURT
2006 Live Review
[+ Show ]
I had caught Keegan Smith at the Buffalo Gap once before and he definitely caught my attention. Add...I had caught Keegan Smith at the Buffalo Gap once before and he definitely caught my attention. Add one part Soul, a shot of Rock and Roll, a dash of Folk, mix it all up in a Reggae blender, then pour it into a glass where the rim was rubbed in Hip Hop and you have just a glimpse at what Keegan's doing at night.
With continous freestyle "raps" breaking throughout his covers and originals, Keegan keeps you tuned in and your foot tapping. I didn't recall any female background vocals the first time I had seen him, but he had two women filling in the holes throughout most of the numbers. His guitar player executed great lead runs on what appeared to be an electric 12-string. Bass and percussion rounded out the band's rhythm.
Not to take anything away from Keegan, but what stole the night for me was when a striking young lady, and waitress of the evening, by the name of Sarah Angela took the stage for a couple of songs. Close your eyes and you envision an angel singing sweet, but down and dirty, heartfelt lyrics. Open your eyes, and your guess was correct. From listening to the banter, I gathered that she is a regular back up vocalist for Keegan. My guess is she'll have her own spotlight soon.
Sitting in the small venue, upstairs in the legendary Buffalo Gap, I sat and listened to song after song. I got the feeling that this is how it must have felt for folks sitting in the small venues many years ago listening to, at one time unknowns like, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, or the more recent Ben Harper/Jack Johnson movement. Keegan Smith has his audience, and I get the feeling they are paying attention because they know something the rest of the country will soon find out.
~Pacific Northwest Music Scene
Set duration depends on requirement of venue/client, ranging from 30 minutes. to 3 hours. With an ever-expanding list of new songs written, there is always new material. Covered material includes bands such as Martin Sexton, Ben Harper, Wyclef Jean and Johnny Cash, and Marvin Gaye.
PDF RiderKeegan Smith & the Fam Rider
There are no upcoming dates at this time.