“Big-picture thinkers don’t let the grind get to them, because they don’t lose sight of the all-important overview. They know the person who forgets the ultimate is a slave to the immediate.” – John C. Maxwell
Keegan Smith is a big picture thinker and a worker.
After finishing a college basketball career and moving on to George Fox to get his masters degree, he spent the majority of his adult life as a professional musician–touring, writing music, selling merch, paying bills.
“I don’t see myself as anything other than who I am. The music business is not about speed; it’s about endurance. If you stay with it for a long time you’ll have success, and if you have talent that helps…People act like there is some end goal, but there’s really not.”
Keegan’s feel good, look good style helped him win Portland Artist of the Year at the 2009 and 2010 Portland Music Awards, and Best Live Performance in 2009 and 2011. At the time, people in Portland thought he had come out of nowhere, but he hosted a weekly concert (which started at the Tonic Lounge and bounced around a couple of spots before a final run at Club 915 from 2009-2011) in Portland since 2004.
Right now he’s taking a risk, putting the years spent touring with a band behind him, and focusing his attention toward making connections that may eventually lead to licensing deals and work as a song writer.
“My turn around on being able to help those around me is a lot faster; however, it is hard. I’ve kept the same band for years, and it’s because I keep them employed. I keep the checks coming in,” he continued. “I’ve noticed that now some of these guys had to go out and get day jobs. I feel bad about it, but I’m 35 now and now we need to start looking for bigger opportunities that will bring in bigger checks for us.”
Life is a journey with no ultimate goal–just new challenges and obstacles to overcome.
He recently returned from a trip to Los Angeles.
“My friend Daniel Bax set up the meetings. He just kind of set up informal meetings. He told me, ‘When you come down don’t really try to sell yourself to these people. Just talk to them, and if anything tell them how you are going to make them money.'”
The people he was hanging out with were impressed that he wasn’t trying to impress them.
“It wasn’t like my experiences doing stuff in Oregon. It was about day two I realized that the meetings were already happening–dinners, parties, brunches. It didn’t really seem like people knew each other, people were just running all over the place…When I got back (Daniel) told me, ‘These people will forget you if we don’t get them something quick.'”
Keegan is also busy working connections locally, and has been finding success. Recently, he had a song–produced by Brian Bennett of Bend–featured on a Nike video being played at Finishline stores around the country.
“When I hear something I know where it can go. I reached out to my contact at Nike and told him I had some songs. He asked if I had any songs about going fast, and I said funny you should ask because last week I made a song called Full Speed. I’ve been writing some of what I consider to be my best material. As I’m doing that people have been taking notice. I’ve been getting my tickets purchased for me, and flying around solo. I’m moving like a ninja right now, I’m so use to booking trips for a full band and now it’s just me.”
You can catch him live at the Crystal Ballroom on March 14th with Acoustic Minds.