One who has made a big impact over the last decade has been singer-songwriter-promoter Chuck Schiele, who has done everything from designing graphics for the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) to booking the OB Farmers Market’s weekly concerts.
He relocated to the East Coast in 2010, but is returning to perform at the Farmers Market Showcase on June 20 — a preview of the musical talent that will be on display during the June 23 Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival — and at the wildly popular street fair itself.
Schiele was born in San Jose and raised in New York. He arrived locally in 1979 to attend art school at San Diego State University. His departure in 2010 came after the loss of one of his friends and musical partners, Craig Yerkes in 2008.
“I found myself still devastated, insane, depressed and dysfunctionally reclusive — just plain sad,” Schiele said. “Two years after losing my dear friend to a car crash, I just wasn’t coping. I was messing things up, spiraling downward. I was tired and wanted to change channels and hit the reset button, so to speak.
“At the same time, my mom’s getting older, my grandpa is older, so I have a deep urge to be more present in their lives and to take care of them,” he said. “I put these two things together and decided to make a change in my life. I left quietly.”
He has continued to make music while in New York, however.
“I spent a lot of time just sitting quietly with family and friends, re-centering,” Schiele said. “I kinda put the guitar down for a while, but by now I’m over a lot of my grief — as much as I’m going to be. I’ve been playing more and more. I even started playing in the band at the church I grew up in.
“It’s a good thing to play music from a different motivation other than to simply sell beer for a club owner, or from a business perspective,” he said. “I do that to simply make the joyful noise.”
Now re-centered, he’s working on a new CD for release later this year. While he has been busy recording and playing on the East Coast, he said there is much he misses about Ocean Beach.
“I miss the spirit of OB,” Schiele said. “I miss OBMA meetings, talking about the cool stuff that I saw go into action on the street. I miss a real burrito from Nico’s. I miss schmoozing at South Beach while sipping Correlejo tequila with my pals.
“I miss the sound of seals barking just before dawn,” he said. “And I miss all the beautiful people dancing to all the beautiful music from anywhere in Ocean Beach, backyard barbecues, clubs on the strip, outdoor events, jammin’ at your buddy’s house. I miss little teeny kids dancing to my music at the farmers market on Wednesdays. I miss that good culture.”
Schiele said he hopes to return to Ocean Beach eventually.
“I still consider myself a part of the San Diego community, a part of the San Diego music community and a brother of Ocean Beach,” he said. “I am still very proud to be Obecian. My body has left the building, but my heart is still strolling Newport [Avenue].”
Meanwhile, he said he’s still happy to be making music.
“Music is like its own ‘room’ to me,” he said. “It’s warm in there, beautiful. I love being in there. I feel God in there. I love the communion it offers when my mates jump into the collective sound.”
He paused to reflect on the huge changes in his life over the last two years.
“That is my only moment of true peace and true solace,” said Schiele. “And I’ve gotten to meet a lot of wonderful people and experience some wonderful moments in wonderful places via my music path. Plus, you get to wear funny clothes and get away with it.”