Jason Scheff (top row, center in tan), a former Point Loman who went on to stake his claim to fame as singer and bassist for the legendary classic rockers Chicago, will have a homecoming of sorts on Oct. 12, performing a one-off gig at Lestat’s Coffeehouse on Adams Avenue. Courtesy photo
Former Point Loma resident and bassist Jason Scheff returns to San Diego for a rare one-off show on Oct. 12 at Lestat’s Coffeehouse. Best known as singer and bassist for the legendary classic rockers Chicago, he’s also part of the legendary Point Loma-based Scheff family of musicians, which includes father Jerry, a legend for his work with Elvis Presley and the Doors, as well as Jason’s brother, Lauren, who performs with award-winning local indie rocker Kevin Martin and Get Back Loretta.
Jason Scheff joined Chicago hitmakers in September 1985, scoring an instant hit with “Will You Still Love Me?”, which rose to No. 3 in the charts in 1986. This was followed by 10 more chart entries from Chicago, including “Look Away” (No. 1 in 1988). The band is currently touring behind its recent album, “Chicago 36 — Now,” but this special gig is apart from that. It’s a chance for Scheff, who today calls Nashville home, to get back to his Point Loma roots.
The reason for the gig comes down to family.
“My brother, Lauren, has such a great presence down in San Diego and been working with a lot of local talent for several years and nurturing a great scene,” Scheff said during a tour stop in Daytona, Fla.
“I was going to be finishing up some dates of a Chicago tour in San Diego, so he asked me if I wanted to stick around and we could just do a gig together. I thought, ‘What a great idea. I could tap into this great talent pool that he’s involved with.’”
On hand will be the likes of keyboardist Kevin Martin, drummer Duncan Moore and percussionist Bob Sale.
”It’s turning into a really fun reunion of sorts, but it’s also about getting together with my brother and parlaying everything that we’ve worked for into a set,” said Scheff.
The plan is for a list of choice covers, but don’t expect the obvious.
“It’s pretty much all covers, songs by Elton John and Earth, Wind & Fire, that sort of thing. We’re going back to my roots, playing songs I heard when I was growing up in the 1970s,” Scheff said. “We’ll sprinkle a few songs of mine in there, but we won’t be doing any Chicago. That’s a separate thing.”
While bass seems like the obvious choice for Scheff to learn, it wasn’t his first choice.
“It was the last one, actually,” he recalled. “I started on piano when I was around 6 years old, just picking up things by ear. I tried to take lessons for a little while, then went to guitar.”
Fate had other plans for Scheff.
“My buddies and I in sixth grade put a band together and they all grabbed the cool instruments,” he said. “The bass was the only thing left. I thought it was appropriate because my parents split up when I was about 3. I really didn’t get to spend much time growing up with my dad, so it felt like a connection to him. I thought if I played bass maybe I could try and follow in his footsteps a little bit.”
Though Scheff is a regular visitor to the area, there are some things he misses.
“The whole beach community, just getting up and going surfing and a handful of friends,” he said. “I just got out of the water in Daytona Beach,” he said. “That reminded me a lot of growing up in San Diego.”
At 52, Scheff still enjoys playing music as much as ever.
“I love seeing the joy it brings to people,” he said. “We go out there every night, and you can just tell that when you are playing a song people know real well, it takes them back to a point in their life and experiences that they’ve been through.”
He said he considers this connection with his audience to be special — magical, even.
“They can be having the worst day in their life, and the minute they hear a song, it takes them to a better place. And you’re part of that delivery method. It’s pretty awesome,” he said.
• JASON SCHEFF: Sunday, Oct. 12 at LESTAT’S COFFEEHOUSE, 3343 Adams Ave. 9 p.m. All ages. Cover TBD. www.Lestats.com.