Keegan Smith and His Good Energy

Posted: November 29, 2010 in PDX Local Bands
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sweaty dancers, shoulder to shoulder, gyrating hips to and fro, and unintentional groping. It was impossible not to invade the personal space of another person in this tiny space. The band took up over half of the dance floor, the bar was three people deep all the way around, and believe me, there was no room to play a game of pool. Girls stood atop benches on the perimeter of the miniscule dining area, sparsely peppered with tables, dancing with their arms in the air. Couples tango in the small space available with the smell of pheromones and pot in the air…This was the Keegan Smith and the Fam show at the Candlelight Room. Almost every week, on the left, Marv Ellis would rap along side the front-man, stunning the ladies in the crowd with his charm and good looks, as well as his lyrical ability. The Acoustic Minds belted out blues-funk inspired harmonization to the right. Occasionally, Unkle Nancy would grace us with his growling scat, and animated expressions. This is where I was first introduced to the phenomenon through my good friends Mike and Tiffany. There was many a stumbling drunk evening walking past the large, olive skinned bouncer (complete with a twinkle in his eye and sly smile on his face) to catch up to my sober ride back home.

Tiff and I on our way home from a wiley night(her birthday) at a Keegan Smith show!

For the last year, Keegan and the Fam have been performing at Club 915, a much more upper-scale kind of club with two floors and three bars, big enough to accommodate the growing numbers. These days, the other performers, Marv, Nancy, and the Acoustic Minds, are off doing other projects on their own, but the vertically challenged main man still has all the right moves, and a business plan in mind. There is a cushy VIP seating area, a much larger, open dance floor, and video screens projecting the show throughout the interior as well as on the street by the front door. At the beginning of the evening, the fifty or so people which would’ve given the Candlelight the feeling of a decent sized Monday-night crowd, are just enough to make Club 915 seem barely populated. The facility requires a much larger number of people to give the intimate feeling that naturally happened at the Candlelight. But no worries, by ten thirty, you have to excuse yourself to wind your way through the abstract menagerie that walks the streets of Portland on the first workday of the week.

Keegan does the job he was made to do, and moves through the crowd with ease, remembering names, bumping fists, and harmlessly flirting with the swooning twenty-somethings that are wearing little more that a Be-Dazzled handkerchief paired with “fuck-me” pumps, which could’ve been purchased, mind you, at the local porn/lingerie shop rather than paying hundreds at Nordstrom. One third of the crowd looks as if they are either on their way to Burning Man, or they just left a private art show. The rest of the audience, Keegan’s newer followers, could be the stunt doubles, both male and female, for the cast of Jersey Shore. Leather-wearing, muscle-bound, tan men dancing badly in hopes to take home one of the women who could easily be mistaken for an off-duty stripper. If the old show at the Candlelight was a meat market, then Club 915 is a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) with make-up, Mystic Tan, and way too much Drakkar Noir.

Keegan Smith working the crowd!

That is the beautiful thing about Keegan’s shows though; they appeal to everyone! I’ve taken punk rock kids to a Monday night at the 915, the musically elite kind that look for the most obscure, rare cuts that they can find…and even they have a good time. Two cocktails later, with inhibitions dropped, they are shaking it with their sworn social enemies, and “droppin’ it like it’s hot.” My mother has even had an amazing time watching the Fam! I introduced her and Keegan before he went on stage, and fifteen minutes later, he integrated not only me, but also my mother’s name into one of his free-styles, while she danced with a nice young man potentially twenty years her junior.

After talking with him for a bit about the blog, and about what he and his wife enjoy eating, his musical career and his plans in the future, I knew that I had gotten him just at the right time. Keegan and the Fam are leaving Club 915 at the end of the month! That’s right, this Monday, the 29th of November, will be their LAST FREE MONDAY NIGHT SHOW!!!! The group, who just got back from a short tour, will be taking the next few months to record a new album. Keegan told me about how he has over fifty songs written, and if possible he’d like to record all of them. After that they’ll choose the ones to put on the album, and that will drop in May of 2011. Busy, busy, busy!

It all started when Keegan got a guitar for Christmas in 1998, and he started playing and performing in ’99. He had just graduated with a Bachelors degree in psychology, which was initially my major when I was going to a more conventional-style college, but as of 2006 he dropped his day job, and focused on making a living with his music. Ever since then, Keegan Smith and the Fam have been taking the Northwest by storm. Hybrid and Special Delivery, two inspired albums, are found at his shows and online at for a nominal fee, and are worth every penny!

What Keegan’s particular brand of tunnel-vision is pointed towards presently is the international music market. Ambitious? Yes, but nobody got anywhere dreaming small! He has plans for both a tour in Canada and a tour in India, and is hoping that he can extend the two, so that they meet in the middle, and the band can just fly from one country to the other. There is a renewable energy company in New Delhi called Choice Solar that is interested in having Keegan and the Fam be the spokespeople for their business and marketing campaign. He was telling me that he’s working on a song for them called “Energy” and he couldn’t be more excited to be affiliated with not only this company, but the renewable energy movement as a whole that is taking place globally! This is not surprising coming from someone who was born and raised in the Northwest.

Keegan's sister who is at every show helping with merch, marketing, and hyping up the crowd!

Keegan has more that his environmentally conscious business plans in common with the rest of the Northwest. He also shares a love of sushi (That’s right, I had to bring it back to food)! Although he admits that his wife would probably prefer El Gaucho, he finds it a little pricey, and would rather go to Blue Fin Sushi pretty much any day of the week. He loves it because of how fresh the fish tastes but also because it’s really good quality at an affordable price. I personally, haven’t been there yet, but if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I adore sushi, and any reason to go review a place with raw fish, is a good reason!

With the tour that he just returned from, and the two tours coming up, my next question was naturally about what food he missed while he was on the road. His initial answer was one that I find is pretty common with musicians these days: “Anything but fast-food!” I told him about how the Absent Minds said they had wished they could have anything but Mexican fare after their tour in the Southwest. He kind of giggled, and my comment reminded him that that was actually something that he had missed. He hadn’t been able to find good Mexican food on his last jaunt around the countryside.

When it comes to food that he enjoys cooking, Keegan is a simple man. He likes to get real creative with paninis. Crusty bread, cured meat, and good quality cheese…yes, please! It’s easy to put together and there are a variety of options to accommodate the pickiest of eaters, even his very young daughter. Stay tuned for my bad-ass panini recipe, and I’ll even give you a couple specialty topping options to impress both your carnivorous and vegetarian guests!!!

So…I’ll be seeing you on Monday, November 29th at Club 915 to see Keegan’s last free Monday night show for at least the next three months if not indefinitely! Come down, have a cocktail, and show us your dance moves, even if they’re really bad! Ha Ha Ha!

He Wants You....There!

You stay classy Portland!


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