Tim Fast could be a character in one of the gems-of-a-song he writes and sings. He’s a dust-covered man who has traveled the roads in search of whatever song is over the next rise. That sense of adventure has given him a catalog of great original songs that have touched audiences from coast to coast and all the way from his native Minnesota down to the Texas Gulf Coast.
“I know how to write a good song and know when it works but in the end, the audience lets me know,” Tim says as his hands cradle a cup of coffee. A line like that might sound boastful coming from most people, but Tim is too disarming to come off that way. The proof that he has arrived as a touring musician comes in his 150-plus bookings a year and the fact celebrated songwriters like Cliff Eberhardt and James Keelaghan are big fans. Keelaghan said that besides being an “excellent songwriter,” Tim has “the sweetest voice I’ve heard in a long time.” High praise indeed.
Tim taught himself to play guitar at a young age (he still doesn’t read music) and his first guitar was a Silvertone his parents bought him after he tried building his own guitar after seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” when he was 8. He counts the late Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman as one of his biggest early influences. After seeing Goodman perform in Minneapolis in 1975, Tim decided, “That’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life.” From then on, his life was about music.
In pursuit of that dream, he traveled roads that gave him a breadth of experience and would serve him well when he decided to become a full-time troubadour. He bussed tables, worked crab boats out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, fabricated sheet metal, inspected produce for the California Department of Food and Agriculture and worked as a stonemason. Woody Guthrie once advised, “All you can write is what you see,” and Tim let the characters he met and the roads he ambled tell the stories in his songs. “Many of my songs are about life’s experiences because the best songs come from what you know best,” he said. He’s told those stories on three well-received albums — the self-titled Tim Fast in 2003, followed by Starlite Drive-In in 2007 and his latest, Crooked Door, released in 2011.
Tim’s talent has been recognized by his peers. He’s studied with some of the greats of contemporary acoustic music, including David Wilcox, fellow Minnesotan Pat Donahue, Kathy Mattea, Johnsmith and Ellis Paul, to name a few. Cliff Eberhardt was so impressed with Tim that he asked him to tour with him as his opening act. Eberhardt saw what audiences have long seen: that Tim has a dazzling repertoire of original songs that leave people humming and thinking — and ready to join him on his journey to see what’s over the next rise.