The Falls Lounge
by on February 19, 2015 in Miscellaneous

It must have been around 1968 or so… I would go up just about every day to my best friend Danny’s house.  Danny played piano and his mother taught it.  I loved being around the music.  I would hear a student taking a lesson with Danny’s mother Eve and I wished it was me.

Actually, truth be told, I really didn’t want to study… take lessons… I just wanted to be on the piano bench playing music.

Danny would be learning all these great classical pieces and he played them really well.

Our class went to go see “The Song of Norway” and that’s the first time I ever heard “Peer Gynt Suite”, aka “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, believe me, it is.  It’s a CLASSIC melody and it was AMAZING to hear it especially with the dramatic backdrop of the Norwegian mountains in the movie.

We learned that the composer was Edvard Grieg.  And yes, the next thing I knew I was going up to the Pritchard’s household and Eve played the piece flawlessly… Danny was learning it too so of course I wanted to.


Danny started showing it to me and I started to pick it up.  I went home later that day and my mother told me Eve had called her.  She called my mother and said, “Linda, I don’t know if you know this or not but I just heard Jason picking up a pretty challenging piano piece and you should really have him take lessons.

And no, she wasn’t trying to hustle another student.  In fact, Eve didn’t teach beginners… she made a recommendation of a beginning teacher so we went to her.  I wish I remembered her name… ACTUALLY, I DO!  Mrs. Johnson!

I started taking lessons and we were using the John Thompson “Red Book” method.  The Kindergarten level was REAL EASY.  And here’s what I did…

I would take the lesson from Mrs. Johnson, she would leave and I’d goof off all week never having practiced… she’d show up, ask me to play the piece and luckily, they were so simple I could actually *sightread* the lesson… until… we got to the end of the Kindergarten level.

It seems like it LITERALLY changed when we went to the “First Grade”.  And looking back, it wouldn’t have been if I had actually practiced but trying to work my old game, I’d take the lesson, she’d leave, come back and I’d crash and burn trying to read the lesson.

She’s say to me, “No, it goes like THIS…” and proceed to play it.  I’d see what she did, and I’d mimic what she did.  She caught on REAL fast and had a little talk with me and my Grandmother, (whose house this was all taking place in)… this was a BIG PIVOTAL moment in my life and I have to thank both Mrs. Johnson and my Grandmother for the way they handled this.

Mrs. Johnson said, “It’s very obvious what your gifts are.  You have an incredible ear for music.  But, what I do is teach how to read music so you have a decision to make. If you want to do it your way, which is great, then I would suggest to continue going in that direction.  But if you’d like to really study what I’m bringing to you we can continue. The decision is yours…”

It didn’t take me long to say, “I want to do it my way.” And she smiled and went on her way.  I had her blessing… she had validated what I was doing.  I’ve heard horror stories about things not going that way when a kid isn’t applying themselves to lessons… but I was lucky.

I kept playing the piano… Danny and I learned all kinds of really cool duets… and ironically, I was always playing in the lower register of the piano… naturally gravitating toward the bass.

Danny and I along with 2 of our friends, Dave and Doug, put our first band together. I think we called ourselves “Santa Fe” at first. This was around 6th grade. Dave and I had actually evolved into very close friends. Dave was the friend where we were both turning into complete music freaks reading all the magazines… buying albums… I remember listening to Steve Miller’s “The Joker” in Dave’s bedroom and just going crazy over the grooves!

Once we all got into Jr. High we kind of started going our separate ways musically and one of the biggest moments in my young musical life happened.

My mother is a great singer and piano player and she had a band. They were called “The Roberts Connection” and they’d practice over at our house. I had just gotten a bass guitar for Christmas in 1975 or 1976… I think it was 1976.  It was a Kay bass and my brother Darin couldn’t wait until Christmas… he told me to come look in our closet… there was a wardrobe cardboard box… you know the kind that are tall?  Especially for a 14 year old?  Well, there were a bunch of clothes in it but along the side of it was this brown Kay bass.  We pulled it out and I started playing it.  Truth be told?  It almost felt too easy… another truth being told… I had played musical instruments since I was around 6 years old starting with Danny Pritchard… so by the time I held my first bass I had been playing guitars for a couple years prior…

But back to that feeling… I knew this was what I was going to do… it was eery…

At this point of the story I should tell you that I come from a broken family so when I got this first bass guitar a big hole in my life had been filled.  I found a friend for life and almost instantaneously I was working.

My mother had a rehearsal and asked the bass player if I could play a song with the band and I’ll never forget his face.  He had this look on his face of “Sure… how cute!” and we kicked a song off.

Well, within the next couple of weeks I was in the band and he was out.  I can’t tell you how great the rush was of playing with grownups… a professional band, and I fit in.

There was a crazy sense of it all *making* sense and I didn’t really know it at the time but my life was unfolding right in front of me.  All I knew was it just made me feel good.

I joined the musicians union in San Diego shortly after joining my mother’s band and was one of the youngest to have joined… I was 14 at the time and I was working professionally with my mother.

One day, I came home from school and my mother told me she got a *gig* on the road.  She got a gig up in Twin Falls, Idaho at “The Falls Lounge”. My mother was so excited not only because she was excited to go but you could feel how she knew she was giving me the best education possible.  In the trenches learning the ropes. We were so excited… I remembered going to school feeling like I was a little adult getting ready to go out into the world.  I kept it to myself… I wasn’t the type of kid that was trying to be better than people… but I was really getting amped about going… until…

My mother had a friend named Jim who was another piano playing singer who worked at the Hotel Del Coronado… she told Jim we were going on the road and he said, “Linda… what are you doing?  He’s 14!  You can’t take him out of school!” so she thought about it and told me I wasn’t going… I was devastated… but I kind of understood.

Again, thinking back on it… that was one of the first major disappointments of being in the music business, and not getting something you wanted.

So the other 3 members went up and got to the gig when the guy who booked it asked, “Where’s the 4th member?”.  Mother said, “Well, he’s 14 so he couldn’t come” and then magic happened.

This guy must have been really intrigued by the idea of a 14 year old being in a band so he said, “Well, I paid for 4 people… let’s get him up here!”.  So I got a phone call saying, “You’re going to be flying up to Twin Falls”.  I had never been on an airplane up to that point so there I went… got on a plane and flew up to Idaho.

Got out and it was REAL cold!  I think it was November… and we had a BLAST!  This moment in my life was the defining moment.

I can remember the room we played… the way it looked and the way people were dancing.

We played for about 4 weeks I think? Came home and I’ve never been the same.

I joined a couple of rock bands after that because I was turning 15 and wanting to rock!  But that time in Twin Falls was the defining moment in my life let alone my career.

I knew I was going to play music for a living for the rest of my life.  I saw how it effected people.  I saw the power you have by sharing a gift.  It CHANGED things… people’s moods… their feelings were coming through when we played.

When I was playing in my mother’s band I would see people slow dancing and saw how deeply they felt for each other and how the music was the soundtrack for it.

Telling you the story right now brings back all the good in it… since then… yes, amazing things have happened in my life… I talk about things like how I started to sing by my mother, again, pointing me in a direction… I talk about it in another blog post… actually, click here, and you can read about it later…

But at this point in my life having been in a band singing lead vocals, writing hit singles, producing a title track for one of our albums… and going back to being in front of my Jr. High School having a girl rip my guitar out of my hands saying, “I know how to play guitar!” and strumming “25 or 6 to 4″… it all makes sense now.

At the end of the day, it’s not about all the things people would think it’s about… fame, fortune… no…

It’s about being that kid who found the thing that would save his life… music.

The kid who was trying to learn the great Bach pieces Eve Pritchard was teaching students, but I was hiding around the corner taking it in to eventually learn and play.

Hanging with David Dramm coming up with logos for our band… drawing the stages and the MASSIVE stacks of amps we were going to have once we became famous…

All the drives up the 5 freeway going to LA for a few days, back to San Diego and eventually making the commitment to move up to LA.

The funky dives we’d play in in the early 80s just trying to survive… playing *showcases* at Madame Wongs playing some half baked attempt at punk rock… can you imagine me with a punk rock hairdo?  It never worked anyway… my hair was too curly!

And then once big things happened for me… going through all the growing pains of adjusting to having to replace one of the greatest singers who ever lived, Peter Cetera… but somehow getting through it with the support of the band taking me in without looking back… and thank you again to my mother for pushing me to sing… you were right…

And here I am, speaking to you… the person who has shown interest in all of this… still blows my mind but now I get it… we help each other… I provide the music and you provide the smile that it did something for you.

And it’s a million other little subtle experiences that define what it means to be a musician. At least that’s the way it’s been for me. It’s not the bass licks, or the number of albums sold, but rather it’s knowing those things first hand that makes me a musician, a veteran. And it’s knowing that you are one of a small percentage of the population to not only have seen, but to have lived behind the curtain that makes this whole crazy thing worth while.

But perhaps even more importantly than all of that, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of it matter.
I look forward to many more great times traveling the world, sometimes hard, sometimes ugly, always worth while experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that

Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.


28 Responses to The Falls Lounge

  1. Janet Henrichs says:

    This was in my memories..Now You and The Band will be inducted into R.R Hall of Fame..Well Done!

  2. Jeremy Armentrout says:

    Wow! What an awesome story. I can understand and appreciate where you are coming from; that the music defines you based on the effect it has on not only you, but others as well; your fans, and the casual listener. I was introduced to Chicago in the late 80s, early 90s and loved the sound. A guy named Jason Scheff was the lead singer, who replaced a legend in Peter Cetera. I found it so amazing that Chicago found a talent like Jason who sounds just like Peter. Anyway, i’ve been a fan ever since; not only of Chicago, but Jason Scheff. I still like Chicago, but for me, the experience is different since the guy who saved Chicago in the mid 80s left the band; that guy is Jason Scheff. I am so glad to have this opportunity to continue to follow your career no matter what it is your doing! Your voice is pristine and you musical talent is off the charts. Thanks for the story; thanks to Falls Lounge!

  3. Eileen S. says:

    Wow, what a great story. Your mom is a wonderful person. I do not have any musical talents but, I am encouraging my son to follow his dream. He wants to be a Luthier. I can honestly say it was because I took him to many Chicago concerts at an early age. Just yesterday I heard him play Doobie Brothers song. Thx again for the posts

  4. Jason: Music can be so many many things and mean different things to different people…For me a lot of the time, its like a cup of coffee, it gets my engine running..You talked about a challenging day at the airport, I’ve had those, Music makes my challenging times better…

    I don’t know why, I just know it works..Preferably via U tube…Your music, your passion, work for me. You have no idea how many challenging days you have helped me get through!

    Music is incredibly powerful!

    Love you brother, appreciate you brother, and whatever you do next..Im a cheerleader cheering for you!

  5. Bour says:

    Que du bonheur d’avoir pu venir vous voir avec Chicago en femme est folle de Vous.Mon fils est un bassiste il Vous admire Vous nous manquais Dans l’espoir d’entendre de nouveau votre voie et vos talents de musicien.

  6. Billy says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that history Jason. I’m familiar with how you became a member of Chicago, but I wasn’t familiar with the moments that led to that. It’s interesting how steps in our lives lead to certain points that we aren’t aware of at the time.
    I’ve always been a huge fan of Chicago. I became a fan in high school back in the mid 70’s and have everything Chicago has ever done. I’m also a huge fan of yours as well. I can only imagine the pressure you were under when you replaced Peter as a 24 year old kid, but you stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Peter was an awesome singer, however his vocals couldn’t be any more beautiful on the ballads than your’s were. I’m sorry you’re no longer in the band, but I wish you all the best on your new endeavors. Thanks for the free music. Love the songs and hope to hear more in the future. Take care,all the best,Billy

  7. Billy says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing that history Jason. I’m familiar with how you became a member of Chicago, but I wasn’t familiar with the moments that led to that. It’s interesting how steps in our lives lead to certain points that we aren’t aware of at the time. I’ve always been a huge fan of Chicago. I became a fan in high school back in the mid 70’s and have everything Chicago has ever done. I’m also a huge fan of yours as well. I can only imagine the pressure you were under when you replaced Peter as a 24 year old kid, but you stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Peter was an awesome singer, however his vocals couldn’t be any more beautiful on the ballads than your’s were. I’m sorry you’re no longer in the band, but I wish you all the best on your new endeavors. Thanks for the free music. Love the songs and hope to hear more in the future. Take care, all the best, Billy


  8. Bryan Ashmore says:

    Love the anecdote about choosing to play by ear on the piano. I started playing piano when I was five because my seven year old friend was taking lessons. He and I were goofing around at his house and then it came time for him to go to his lesson. We didn’t want to stop playing, so we snuck me into the trunk of his mom’s car, so I could go to the piano lesson with him. Imagine his mother’s shock and dismay when I popped out of the trunk at his piano teachers house! They immediately called my mother, of course, to reassure her I was okay. To her credit, she let me sign up for piano lessons. I always struggled to follow the program when it came to reading (although I can read). Years later a wise teacher introduced me to chord sheets and my world opened up. Thank God for observant teachers who nurture students in their natural gifts!

  9. Hey Jason,
    Hi!! I wanted to thank you so much for letting me be share in the most memorable moments of your life!! I admire you so much for going after what you want, and now that you’re on your own I think it’s so exciting to see what wonderful achievements you’re going to accomplish in the future!! I started out listening to Chicago but I realized that on some of the CDs I was hearing a different singer and I wanted to find out who it was and it was you!! I just loved the sound of your voice and how great of a singer you were!! I have followed you for more than 25 years now!! I bought Chicago CDs but I had to get your CD called Chauncy when it first came out, which I believe was named after your dog!!
    I love your songs on it, especially Carry On with Bill, Fade To Black, Stolen Years about your dad,and I could keep going!! I believe I understand how you feel about music and how it can just affect your moods. I know it can make you feel all different emotions and I myself feel so passionate about music. I wish that I could get people to listen to the music I listen to so they could experience all of the emotions and passion, heart and actual Joy that it brings to my life. Actually, your my inspiration!! I am so PROUD of YOU!!! TAKE CARE and the BEST OF LUCK on your new journey!!! I look forward to hearing from you soon!!!! Chris

  10. Hey Jason,
    I wanted to also Thank You so much for your story about THE FALLS LOUNGE!! It is so exciting to find out what helped influence you through the years that made you the man you are today!!!!!(I forgot to include this in my original reply) THANKS AGAIN!!! Chris

  11. Ellen says:

    What a cool story!! Thank you for taking the time to share your life, and memories with us. You knew what you wanted and you went for it that alone is inspiring to all of us. It’s the drive for something we really want that makes us great at what we do in our careers. It seems the harder you work the better you want to be at what you do and you are great at what you do! I don’t want to sound selfish about what I’m going to say and I pray your family needs have been met by you leaving the band and all is great there but……it was and still is heart breaking you leaving Chicago. I just had to say that. Sorry if I sound selfish but I am selfish when it comes to music. I don’t like breakups. You have a wonderful personality and I miss the periscopes!!! I remember my husband and I painting our house, Chicago playing and we’d hear the tweet on my iPad for periscope ….we would stop, look at each other and both say “it’s Jason” I’d turn you on and my husband and I would watch and listen to you,sometimes we’d go on stage with you via periscope. I MISS those days!! I wish for you to find happiness in whatever you do in the future!!
    I also hope you are doing what makes your heart happy, you’ve got the talent!!!

  12. Jean-Paul Ribes says:

    Hello Jason,

    I downloaded your three songs. I love them as I did when I bought your album Chauncy ((King Records KICP 616)in 1997. Also waiting for your Button project.
    All the best,

    Jean-Paul (WEST COAST Golden Radio Community Manager)

  13. Gantcho says:

    Hello Jason! Thank you for sharing your story with us….listeners. I love your music – with Chicago and your solo career. Your voice is recognizable! All the best and god luck!

  14. Terry Cupit says:

    Thank you Jason for tour inspirational blogs! You, my friend, have certainly paid your dues to be a successful musician. Thanks for all the great music you have made with Chicago, and the great music you will make in future endeavors. Ive seen you perform with Chicago 4 times! It’s all timeless music!!

  15. Oscar A. Roman says:

    From Mexico, from a big fan of you. Thank you so much for sharing these memories. You are a great inspiration.

  16. John Bailey says:

    Writing in regard to you post.saw you when you first debuted with Chicago,
    You were arwarded grammies for album of the year and the coolest thing was the band elected to get their grammies in front of us(the audience).
    I wish you would have stayed with Chicago because of having the knack of making people”feel at home”.thanks.John

  17. Beth says:

    I love you, your music, vulnerability, strength and your stories Jason! I am always here for you & yours! Cheering you on…. smiling for your successes… in particular the fact that you are home now. Wishing you a happy home~
    Parenting is sacred,
    With Love & gratitude,

  18. Mike Adelman says:

    Loved reading your blog. I’ve stayed in Twin Falls… Your musical journey is 1 in a million. You have been truly blessed.

    I looked forward to following you.


  19. Amy Gomez says:

    Jason, thank you for sharing the Falls Lounge story. I cried tears of joy. Its beautiful how one life can touch so many. I have been watching your videos on Facebook and they are funny and entertaining and are helping me through a rough time in my life. I do not have a Facebook page yet but I can still go on yours. I’m a huge fan! You are so talented and I’m so happy you got to play with some members of Kiss!! How cool and your rockin your curly hair lol! I miss you in Chicago but now you will have more time at home with the family and doing different projects. The Falls Lounge story was nostalgic and inspiring. God gave you a wonderful talent and gift..He has opened many doors for you. You are truly blessed and a delight. God bless you always.

  20. Yvonne Fragachan says:

    Hola Jason!!
    Me gusta mucho como cantas y la energia que trasmites cuando lo haces, he oido tu musica como solista y cantando con Chicago, lamento mucho que hayas dejado la banda, pero tu debes tener tus razones, soy tu admiradora, saludos y un gran abrazo.

  21. Tamra Buchanan says:

    Thank you so much Jason for your story. I too am a musician who was given some unique opportunities to travel with bands. I am a singer and a drummer, music is everything to me.

    I understand your working with a new band, please release “memories survives” I believe that is a #1 song Jason and can touch millions of hearts. I need that song to put together a tribute for my mother who passed away way to young. She was my mother and my best friend and I only had her for 36 years. She wanted me to sing but was in favor of me traveling. I have been lost since 1997 the year she died, she was only 57. God has sustained me through this long lonely time, I still miss her so much. I know I see her again above the sky someday.

    God bless you Jason and keep the winding path going and let there always be another day.

  22. KERRY HARDY says:

    Thanks for the great story. Now we just need to get you to Augusta, Ga. Maybe 18 on the Augusta National and a concert later that night! That would probably be a pretty sweet day in the life…..

  23. Peggy says:

    Jason, I LOVE how you share your life with us through your music & your blogs, & I totally, totally LOVE the three songs you’ve shared from Chauncy. Thanks SO MUCH singing sharing them!!!

    You’ve been a huge inspiration to me for some 25 years now. I’ve been a Chicago fan since the beginning, but even more so after you joined. One of the things that totally blew me away about you was the obvious passion you have for music, especially considering how young you were. It’s apparent in your vocals & facial expressions that you feel every single note you sing, & it’s an incredibly beautiful thing. Because of that, I started taking voice lessons at age 46 for the first time, & started singing again after shelving it in favor of a steady paycheck, marriage & a family. In other words, I’ve returned to my first love because of your inspiration, & I’m having the time of my life!!! I retired years ago, my children are grown & gone, & it’s just my husband & me now. And I’ve been singing online for nearly 3 years now, & can’t get enough of it!! At 71 years of age, my life has new meaning, & I’m thrilled with what’s happening at this time of my life!! Your talent & passion for what you do was exactly the nudge I needed to return to my first love, & can’t thank you enough!!!

    While I was so sorry that you left Chicago, I respect you immensely for putting your family first! You’re an anomaly in a business where marriages often end because of touring schedules, & you & Tracy deserve a huge pat on the back for making yours work. I know that she & your beautiful sons are thrilled to have you home, & I’m anxious to see what you’re going to do musically in this chapter of your life!! Thank you so much for sharing your talent & your life with your fans, & it’s my hope that I’ll have the opportunity to meet you in person!! In the meantime, may God bless you & yours richly!!!

    With love & warmest regards,

  24. Pauletta says:

    Jason thank you so much for sharing this story about your early life. What a testament for passion, drive, and determination to be the best you can be. Thanks for sharing your gifts. I love your music and will keep,on listening.

  25. VICTORIA says:


  26. Patrick Clark says:

    Thanks Jason for sharing your songs, awesome to say the least. Thanks for sharing your stories. Inspirational to say the least. Music has always been my passion and keeps me going every day.I really enjoyed your video on how to write a song. I play music because it’s fun. Ive had some band members over the years that wouldn’t play any gig unless they got paid. I only play part time so for me it’s a hobby. If playing becomes regimented, then what’s the fun in that. Anyway, thanks for all you do and for everything you bring to us the fans. Look forward to watching your progression away from Chicago.

    Pat (from Canada)

  27. Chito Legaspi says:

    Thanks for the music and for this wonderful story.

    I was very sleepy when I started to check the story, it was 25 or 6 to 4 in the morning and your story kept me awake to the point of writing a comment.

    Such a great talent, attitude and personality.
    Thank you and may you continue to write and sing beautiful music.

  28. Rogeria Tavares says:

    Dear Jason, I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and turning 65 this coming July. The reason for mentioning my age is just to show how long I have been loving the music world. To me, music is the international language of love… As I mentioned before in an email, I am so very happy that, despite the years I missed seeing you live now with our technology I have been catching up and watching sooo many great vídeos of yours, from your days with Chicago until now. So very special! Keep up following your heart as you have been doing since early age. You are a great example of what one can become – to himself and to everyone around! Shine your light, forever! We all will be here to watch you and let that bright light shine on us, with all its beauty! God bless you! (Rogeria Tavares, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

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