By Lori Garrett
Thursday Review Contributing Writer
It was a warm night in 2008 when I discovered the man who would change the way I viewed music forever. A friend and I went to a local music establishment to see the Philadelphia-based band Man Man, and though they did not disappoint, it was their opening act that made a lasting impression.
Tim Fite could only be described as “unassuming.” Had he not taken the stage, I would have never guessed that he was a musician. He stands just a little taller than my five feet, seven inches, and keeps his brown hair short and neat. He wore a suit and long sleeved white shirt, and in fact looked like a guy who had just stopped in for minute on his way home from work.
Most of the audience was milling about, ordering drinks and chatting as he mounted the stage while his partner, a man he later identified as 'Sexy Leroy' stood off to the side. As the music began to play and Mr. Fite began to speak, Leroy took one end of a long thick rope and tied it to the stage, taking the other end towards the wall. He then walked the perimeter of the room, leaving slack in the rope as he went—then, suddenly, the bulk of the audience found themselves being literally corralled towards the stage. Tim Fite smiled at our surprised shouts.
He engaged us, urging us to become one. On the screen behind him, the words Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes were lit up, and we soon found ourselves laughing and playing the old game that we thought we left back in our childhood.
Unconventional is another word I could use to describe Tim Fite. Fite, who defies being easily categorized, performs a quirky mix of nearly every musical style: country, rap, alternative, hip-hop, indie, with a bit of everything else thrown in. In songs such as "Camouflage" he shares his anger “it's a fashion sense from a fascist nation/oh camouflage/looks good with everything/especially capitalist colonial commemorative pinky rings/oh my god (whatcha got?)/oh my god (whatcha got?)/I got this defending a barrel of gasoline.”
In the song “I’ve Been Shot,” he lampoons the rap industry's love affair with violence: “My exit wounds make record exec goons swoon." He even pokes fun at fame and fashion in “More Clothes” with the lines “I think I need to play more shows/so I can buy more clothes/so I can look like them folks who buys clothes/You know I would if I could/because rock is just wood/unless you look real good/looking down your nose.” And whether politics is your thing—musical or otherwise—he has plenty of songs about life, love, and death. “Big Mistake” and “I Thought I Was a Gun” come to mind, especially when in a melancholy mood.
True to his philosophy, Tim Fite is neither greedy nor a man obsessed with sucking up fame and fortune wherever he can. Many of the songs he samples in his own music are from long forgotten artists who did not even make it to one hit wonder status. Remarkably, he offers every single one of his albums for free on his website Tim Fite Dot Com. Instead, he makes his money from touring and selling his art—both at shows and in his own store on the popular website Etsy.
All-in-all, I would say give the man a chance. You literally have nothing to lose but time—and you have nothing but time.