Joe LaPaglia sounds Just like himself, good music, good man BY BILL SMITH MUSIC CRITIC Singer, songwriter and guitarist Joe LaPaglia was born and raised in Pittsburgh, but don’t hold that against him. Joe moved to Cleveland in the early 1990’s and has proudly called the Erie shores his home for nearly twenty years now. Joe released his debut album “Just Like Me” in 2011 and already is gaining some pretty serious accolades. Joe has won a songwriting contest on songwriteruniverse.com for his song “Why Me?”. Joe has also won a songwriting completion for The Gap stores which featured some in store performances, as well as a showcase on WKYC’s television show Good Company. His song “Sunny Days” is the theme song for bestfreakinggolftrip-laketrip.com, which is a website design to help golfers create vacations around their love of Golf in Florida. However when you talk to Joe, you just get the impression that he’s a normal guy and the exposure and success has definitely not gone to his head.
Joe’s album is an impressive foray into the over looked talent of the artists and musicians that live around Cleveland. Recorded at Ante Up Studios located in Downtown Cleveland, it features some of the area’s most gifted musicians backing him up. The sound on the album could be compared to that of Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20, with a twist of Darius Rucker or Rascal Flatts thrown in for good measure. Even though Joe has a great voice, his real strength lies in his songwriting. Joe composed all of the tracks on the album himself. “Hiding Place,” which is Joe’s favorite song on the album, captures the feelings of loneliness and retreat that we all face from time to time. The song “She Aches,” has a strong country feel running through it was written with Faith Hill in mind to deliver the vocals. “Sunny Days” is a fun and upbeat song, but that wasn’t the mood he was in while crafting the tune. Joe admitted, “I wanted to write a song that was exactly opposite of what I was feeling at the moment.” You could never guess that while tapping your feet along to this upbeat little ditty.
One song in particular holds a special meaning to Joe and his wife. Joe is a special needs teacher and his wife works with Autistic children. One day his wife asked him to write a song for an organization they work with called Share a Vision (www.shareavision.org). They wanted the song to help convey the struggles of dealing with this crippling disease. “Why Me?” was born. This is a powerful song that hits very close to home with Joe, his family and the children that they work with. Joe donates all of proceeds from purchasing “Why Me?” directly to Share a Vision, and their battle to fight Autism. This is one time that I support downloading the music, instead of buying the physical copy.
Joe plays pretty regularly around the area, mostly solo acoustic shows. When I asked him about playing with other musicians he said, “Keeping a band together is like herding cats.” Anyone who has ever been involved with music in Cleveland can easily attest to that. Joe is a likeable guy, who has an incredible gift and wants to share it with as many people as possible, music.