OLNEYVILE-BOUND Lil B is heading to Fête on May 11.
When many people dream of a career in music, visions of selling out the Dunk or Gillette Stadium come to mind. Richard Collier has these same aspirations, though he's envisioning them from another angle.
Collier is the owner of the Keynote Company, a group that specializes in booking and promoting concerts in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The company has been around since 2006 and looks to bring all types of talent to our neck of the woods.
Originally from Westport, MA, Collier enrolled at Johnson & Wales University's business program and quickly immersed himself in the Providence music scene. From there, Collier began to realize how he could combine his two passions.
"My friend approached me about a booking company he started and not long after I got involved we put on our first show," he recalls. Collier's first show turned out to be a sold out gig at the Living Room with national touring act Vanna. Collier saw he was onto something.
Collier handles the majority of the booking work for the Keynote Company; overseeing about 10 shows a month. From VFW halls and bars to gigs in Collier's own bedroom (!), no gig was too small or too outrageous for the company.
As the company quickly gained more than 4000 fans on Facebook, some acts looking to make a stop in Providence would talk to Keynote. They soon realized their potential to become a resource for bands as well as venues, bridging the gap between venues and bands.
"While bands know big name venues are out of their league, some don't know how to get in touch with smaller venues or how to set up shows," Collier says. "In contrast, the smaller venues have the space but don't know how to find the bands."
Even with high-profile acts playing their shows, Collier always leave room on the bill for local bands to take the stage.
"I almost refuse to not put locals with nationals," Collier says. As they've grown, Keynote has taken an interest in the local acts that are trying to break into the scene.
Two bands that regularly play Keynote shows, A Faylene Sky and Auburn, have recently signed recording contracts and begun to tour nationally. "It's been crazy to see them grow and succeed," Collier notes. Even with newfound success, both bands still work with Keynote when planning gigs in Rhode Island.
Keystone's success comes from stepping out from their comfort zone and trying something different. "We love all genres so we don't refuse acts," Collier explains while discussing their most recent work with local hip-hop artists.
National rap acts are now contacting Keynote to book shows. One of the company's biggest rap concert to date as Lil' B, who is flying in from California play his first gig in Providence at the Fête Ballroom on Friday, May 11.
Despite the success, running a promotion company is no easy way to make a living. Concerts fall through and don't always make money. Collier has seen the high and lows but still loves what he does.
"[Keynote] means absolutely everything to me and as much as it can be stressful sometimes, I'm never leaving it. I hope someday it's my kids' and grandkids' job, but that's a long ways ahead to look."