Modern classic rock artist Jim Scaparotti has been writing songs for over 30 years but is just now recording and releasing music. Life events and childhood trauma sidelined Jim, but the pain of losing his beloved grandson to a rare genetic disorder inspired his return to music.
Today, the Cleveland, Ohio-based singer-songwriter steps forward with centeredness and artistic assuredness to release a series of singles from an upcoming album of prime rock n’ roll, TIMEPIECE. Joining him on these musical adventures is a stable of world-class musicians, collectively called Jim Scaparotti and TINMAN Project. The parable of the Tin Man represents wholeness and healing for Jim. The Project, and Jim’s own journey, will further come to life with an animatic music video called "The Revelation of TINMAN."
“In the past year and a half, I have found the inner peace that, along with my faith in God, has allowed me to move forward with my music endeavors,” Jim shares. He continues: “The 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.”
Music was Jim’s refuge growing up. He dissected songs by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Doors, the Stones, Dylan, Neil Young, James Brown, Taj Mahal, Joni Mitchell and others so much that they became part of the fabric of his soul. His spiritual journey has been vast and varied. It took him away from music and he didn’t consciously listen to those formative classic rock songs for years. Yet they still cycled through his mind and heart, and, when he came back to music, it was like being unfrozen and picking up a creative dialogue fresh from his youth. Jim’s songs therefore are almost direct links back to rock’s heyday though his own life truths and sense of spirituality imbue them with a sense of vigor and vibrancy.
Jim grew up in the wilds of the 1960s—he attended Kent State University a year after the shootings. His Italian -American family was close, and very musical. Long nights singing standards shaped his early life. After some informal guitar lessons from his dad, Jim set out on his own path of soaking up records, experimenting with a percussive guitar style, and eventually learning bass.
His childhood was tarnished by a painfully traumatic experience that would haunt Jim for decades. These feelings of emptiness and sadness were heightened by the heady 1960s and early 70’s, and Jim got lost in the drug culture of the day. He found much-needed structure joining the Navy, and, while stationed in Italy, he had a conversion experience and became born again.
He eventually got married and after participating in Jesus People communes and pastoring an Oregon church, 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, 1975-1989, he didn’t listen to any secular music. However, in the early 1990s he made a concerted effort to gain traction as a songwriter, even knocking on doors in Nashville but never making any headway.
Instead, Jim embarked on a successful career as an entrepreneur and marketing executive, working long hours and traveling extensively. In March 2020, 75% of Jim’s business was wiped out almost overnight due to the pandemic. “When that storm hit, I took a breath. 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 reveals.
Turns out, he and his wife live in the same neighborhood as Dan Needham's (Nashville studio drummer; Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, The Neville Brothers, Nick Jonas) sister and her husband and they were good friends. Jim asked Dan for advice on getting great drum tracks, and Dan offered to record drums from his home studio. From there, doors started opening to musicians and music biz people previously closed to Jim. One such coup was getting guitar master Phil Keaggy to play on sessions. Jim says: “I had a connection to Lynn Nichols (Nashville musician, producer, songwriter, Chagall Guevara, Nichols & Perkins, Passafist, Phil Keaggy Band), who became my confidante’ and Executive Producer. Lynn introduced me to Phil and most of the other incredible session players and engineers I’m working with today.” Also foundational on all of Jim’s tracks is soundscape guitar whiz Dave Cleveland (Miley Cyrus, Little Big Town, Stephen Stills, and Russ Taff, among many others). Matt Wallace (multi-platinum mixer/ producer; Faith No More, Maroon 5, The Replacements) and Richard Dodd (Grammy award winning mastering/mixing: Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, George Harrison, Robert Plant) round out an impressive team of musicians, artists and industry talent.
“I was used to nothing happening for so long, now all of a sudden, connections were happening that I only dreamed of in the past,” Jim says. “This trend continued to the point where I was recording entirely remotely, basically producing my songs with some of the greatest players in the world and somehow it was all coming together.”
Select highlights in Jim’s upcoming album include “These Are the Times,” “My Shadow,” “The Name,” “Walkin’ This Road,” “I’m Glad,” and “The Call.” Though this sampling falls under the “modern classic rock” genre classification, these songs are stylistically diverse. The track “The Name” (July 30th release) smolders like a heartfelt blues-rock ballad replete with searing melody-driven lead guitar work. The song is sweetly devotional, and here Jim sings with soulful longing. Choice lyrics include: Can’t get away, can’t get around without the sound of that name, bouncing off the walls that I have built to keep it out, I shout it out, it tears them down and finds me out, makes me want to see the face, face behind the name, it’s only a matter of time and space/It’s your name, it’s your name, your name, the name that I love. “Faith permeates my life and therefore, my music,” he acknowledges. “But I’m not pushing an agenda.” On “The Call” Jim sings about how we are summoned to our purpose in life. Fittingly, he was woken up one morning at 3:00 AM and wrote this bluesy roadhouse rocker while on his knees.
On “These Are the Times” Jim conjures the smoky rootsiness of 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. The twangy rock continues on, “Walkin’ This Road,” which conjures the swampy sounds of Creedence. Here is also a message of self-empowerment: I’ll see you there my friend, one way or the other, but there’ll be hell to pay if I follow another. “It’s basically about pursuing my calling in life, and not conforming despite tendencies to want to please people. For me, it’s about facing the darkness,” confesses Jim.
In Jim’s story, facing the darkness has also been about facing the music, whether it be confronting his past, or healing through songwriting. His first ever released song, “Josiah’s Song,” was a tribute to his dear grandson who got his wings way too soon. Up next, Jim 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. Hearing his songs recorded the way he imagined them for so long was like the moment the Tin Man received his heart. “During our first remote session, when Dave Cleveland did his first guitar pass on ‘These Are the Times,’ I was moved to tears,” Jim recalls. “It felt like this song I had mused over so long was finally coming alive.”
— Interview by Lorne Behrman