Hi, my name is Jeff Coffey and I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.
I’ve always been interested in music. I played trombone when I was in junior high, high school and college as well as performed in numerous parades and musical groups at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Also, during school, I picked up the bass and performed in various rock bands formed by my classmates and I. Then I later went to college and I got a scholarship to Stetson University and then to University of Central Florida where I got to play with some great musicians and learned a lot about feel and jazz. I got to travel with the jazz band from UCF to the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, which was an amazing experience. Then we also went up to the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague.
“But it was an experience that I had in high school that really solidified my goals to one day want to perform professionally. My school marching band was invited to perform at the Superbowl Halftime show in Tampa, FL and after experiencing the power of a crowd that size, I knew that there was really nothing else that I wanted to do with my life other than play music.”
As a musician/singer/songwriter, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to share the stage with a lot of artists, like Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain, Sixpence None the Richer, Vertical Horizon, just to name a few. I was also at one point the touring bassist with Brian Howe (from Bad Company). Those were fun times, but I had a really amazing experience with a band I used to be in from Gainesville, FL called House of Dreams.
We worked really hard, wrote a lot of music and eventually … we were good friends with the Sister Hazel guys and in kind of a round about way, their attorney came to see us and he liked what he heard and got us in touch with a producer out in LA, Keith Olsen, who had success with Fleetwood Mac, Ozzy Osbourne and Rick Springfield. We had the opportunity to get in a room with him and kind of hone the tunes in a little tighter and eventually we landed a deal with RCA Records.
We went to LA for about 3 months and recorded with Keith at his studio Goodnight LA Studios, which was right next to Sound City. Amazing experience! That was actually the first time I had the chance to meet Jason Scheff. He happened to stop by the studio one day, he was friends with Keith, and I’ll never forget, he brought this CD in. He did an all a cappella version of “Stairway To Heaven”. His voice doing all of the vocals, all of the guitar parts, bass parts, the drums … it was the most amazing vocal thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
We finally got finished with our record, that was about the time the industry started to kind of implode on itself and they shelved the record. They allowed us to do an acoustic live record, but then eventually dropped us after about a year or so.
That was my turning point for my career when I decided to go solo. Said goodbye to the guys and I started working on new music and teamed up with a producer in town, Joe Smith who co-produced my first “self-titled” solo CD.
I later released a second solo CD called "Long Way Home" that featured a bunch of new tunes that kind of bridge the gap between Pop, Rock and Country, if you will. Two of the singles from that CD, "Through Your Eyes" and "Long Way Home" made it to the Top 20 on the FMQB AC/40 Charts. I went on to support these records by playing a bunch of live shows with my band at places like Hard Rock Live, House of Blues. We did a big festival down in south Florida called SunFest and slowly began to garner some national recognition for my writing from organizations like Songwriters Showcase of America, winning Song of the Year and Male Solo Act of the Year.
I still continue to write and record music on a regular basis. Most recently, before I got with Chicago, I was partnering up with a good friend of mine Jack Sizemore, who plays guitar for Jason Aldean and Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stan Lynch. A lot of you people know who he is, famed drummer from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. We were getting together and writing a lot of material for a new record and we still, on our spare time, will get together and try to finish this thing. So, I’m really excited for everyone to hear that music. It’s going to be a little surprise in the future.
I’ve also been involved with the Nashville music scene. I have some good friends there, Tom Hurst in particular, who has been a long time friend of mine. An amazing drummer, who was in House of Dreams with me years ago. Tom, along with Chris Nix, a phenomenal guitarist and drummer David Parks put together the Nashville Drummer Jam. Twice a year they pick an iconic drummer, and the best drummers in Nashville will pick a song from that drummer’s band or from a collection of work that they have done with other artists. I was fortunate to play the Stewart Copeland tribute night for the NDJ, which was incredible because Sting is one of my heroes and I’ve been a big fan of The Police since day one. To play that music was a great experience for me, I got to meet so many amazing people.
One of those people was the amazing John Cowan, who now plays bass for The Doobie Brothers – which is how I actually came to be with Chicago.
Keith Howland was calling around looking for bass players who could sing tenor and he happened to call John Cowan. John had kept my card from that night. Months later he gets a call from Keith, and he actually put my name in the hat, which was great. I got the call from Keith and he asked me what I was doing and would I be interested in possibly auditioning.
I sent 3 video auditions and Keith passed them around to the guys in the band. They liked what they heard and decided to fly me up for an audition in Ohio. That audition was the longest audition process that I have ever been through, but it was great because I got to play the entire show with Chicago. And I thought to myself, man if I don’t get this gig, just running through this show, this Chicago music … with Chicago … what an amazing experience.
Fortunately enough, I got the gig and it is truly an amazing opportunity to play with Chicago. I’ve been a huge fan of Chicago ever since I was old enough to start getting into music. Chicago 17, I wore out the cassette. I had to get another one and then CDs came along and I had Chicago 18 when Jason came onboard, loved it. And then I would dive back into some of the older stuff and remember hearing them on the radio in the 70s and it’s just iconic that we all grew up listening to and it’s become the backdrop of millions of people’s lives.
And I was a budding trombone player in high school and college so, you know James Pankow was my hero. He was the coolest trombone player I’d ever seen, right? He was in a rock band, so I wanted to be like that dude!
Now, for me to be on stage with Chicago is such an amazing honor. These guys are world class musicians and a bunch of great guys and I am literally having the time of my life!
Visit jeffcoffey.com to learn more about Jeff Coffey and his library of solo projects.