Local singer-songwriter Jim Scaparotti, who’s written songs for the past 30 years but has only recently begun recording, has assembled a group of veteran session players, artists and industry professionals to perform as part of his Jim Scaparotti and TINMAN Project. He says the pain of losing his grandson to a rare genetic disorder inspired him to begin recording and releasing a series of singles from his upcoming album, TIMEPIECE.
“In the past year and a half, I have found the inner peace that, along with my faith, has allowed me to move forward with my music endeavors,” Scaparotti says in a press release. “The classic story of the Tin Man resonates with me because I felt stuck for so long. I hope my journey and my music gives others hope.”
Growing up in an Italian-American family, music was an important part of his early years. After some informal guitar lessons from his dad, he started experimenting with a percussive guitar style and eventually learned to play bass.
Scaparotti attended Kent State University a year after the shootings. After a stint in the Navy he got married and then participated in Jesus People communes, pastored an Oregon church, then he and his wife moved to Italy as missionaries.
“That lasted a year and a half. When we returned to Cleveland, I was a 30-something-year-old man with a family, no degree, and a resume of ‘preaching the gospel’ on the streets,” he recalls.
During these years, he didn’t listen to any secular music. However, in the early 1990s he made a concerted effort to gain traction as a songwriter.
A successful entrepreneur and marketing executive, Scaparotti saw the pandemic affect his business dramatically, and he took refuge in his music.
“For the first time in 20 years, I had time on my hands and decided to learn how to do home recording. I spent hours watching YouTube videos, trying to learn the art of sound engineering. I got pretty good at everything but drums,” he says.
Turns out, he and his wife live in the same neighborhood as Dan Needham's (Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, The Neville Brothers, Nick Jonas) sister and her husband, and they were good friends. Scaparotti asked Needham for advice on getting great drum tracks, and Needham offered to record drums from his home studio in Nashville.
From there, doors started opening to musicians and music biz people he had only dreamed of working with before. One such coup was getting guitar master Phil Keaggy to play on sessions.
“I had a connection to Lynn Nichols [Nashville musician, producer, songwriter, Chagall Guevara, Passafist, Phil Keaggy Band], who became my confidante and executive producer. Nichols introduced me to Phil and most of the other incredible session players I’m working with today.”
Soundscape guitar whiz Dave Cleveland (Miley Cyrus, Little Big Town, Stephen Stills and Russ Taff) plays on all of Jim’s songs as well.
“I was used to nothing happening for so long, now, all of a sudden these connections were happening that I only dreamed of in the past,” Scaparotti says. “This trend continued to the point where I was basically producing songs remotely with some of the greatest players in the world and somehow it was all coming together.”
On “These Are the Times,” Scaparotti takes inspiration from Dire Straits.
“This song, written around 1992, was a message to me to open my heart — but it’s for anyone who feels lost, is damaged or seeking meaning in life,” he says.
Scaparotti has “a bunch” of songs, and some 30 cassettes and journals filled with melodies and concepts he hopes to record and release along with new material he is currently writing. So far he has released 4 songs and has another dozen in various stages of recording.
“During our first remote session, when Dave Cleveland did his first guitar pass on ‘These Are the Times,’ I was moved to tears,” says Scaparotti. “It felt like this song I had mused over so long was finally coming alive.”
His latest music video, "My Shadow," features Phil Keaggy on Ebow and backing vocals along with an A-list of musicians and recording industry veterans. And he'll release his new single, "I'm Glad," on Sept. 3.
Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]