Self taught by ear on an old Stella flat top during a bout of encephalitis that kept him out of school for a year. He taught himself to play the music he heard around him: traditional country blues and the gospel his grandmother played on piano in a small church in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
At age 14, Tim was nominated by a musically astute uncle for a scholarship at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts. There he studied the classics with Segovia protege Jesus Silva while continuing to play all kinds of music, increasingly turning to classic jazz for inspiration. He adapted compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and Fats Waller to the guitar, frequently reducing piano arrangements to their essence. Early influences were Doc Watson, Arthur Smith, and most importantly Duck Baker, who opened up a horizon of possibilities for fingerstyle guitar.
After a stint on the road with a Chicago-based rhythm and blues band, Sparks arrived in Minnesota where he soon established himself as a journeyman guitarist and session player. While recording three albums with the seminal vocal jazz ensemble Rio Nido, Sparks also became proficient in jazz styles from Brazilian to Be Bop. It was at this time he arranged Carla Bley's composition Jesus Maria for Leo Kottke. ( Rio Nido's first two vinyl recordings have recently been re-issued on CD on the Japanese Vivid Sound Label. Check out Rio Nido
Acoustic Guitar Magazine
Tim Sparks has created an instantly recognizable style without relying on
unorthodox techniques or weird tunings. Merging his classical and jazz
backgrounds and effortless chops with a keen interest in Eastern European
music, he stormed onto the fingerstyle scene with his debut CD, The
Nutcracker Suite, which featured his arrangement of Tchaikovsky's classic as
well as a collection of Balkan folk songs. Spark's '95 release, Guitar Bazaar, is
a masterpiece of acoustic world music
Folk Roots Magazine
Sublime take on Klezmer and Sephardic standards veering between bluesy,
flamenco-inflected finger-picking and Joao Gilberto
Willing to teach
Taught four years at the University of Minnesota 2005 to 2009.
Taught at guitar camps like Winnipeg Folk Fest, Acoustic Guitar Seminars and
Available for clinics, workshops.
I specialize in Fingerstyle guitar do a hands on clinic focusing on GEDCA system
of chord shape/scale/arpeggio connections.
I also cover jazz chord voicings and melodic minor and sub modes
corresponding to Major, Minor and Dominant 7th chord shapes.
I can also teach world music technques including latin-bossa nova, balkan and
middle-eastern and how these apply to my Radical Jewish Culture projects for