Acoostic Sessions: Live musical performances done in and around Montreal.
At 28-years-old, Jesse Stone is already a musical journeyman. Born and raised in Montreal, music has taken him all over North America. He’s called NYC home, as well as MTL. He’s played festivals in Nashville, been involved in songwriting competitions in Toronto, and gigs steadily across Highway 401. When Stone was 19, Terry DiMonte invited him on his radio show in Calgary after hearing him and his brother play.
South America is next. Stone’s song “Fisherman” – from his 2014 debut EP Breaking Day – has just been licensed by Universal Music Group and is being adapted for a bilingual Portuguese/English version that will be released in Brazil this fall. It’s something Stone considers one of his highest musical achievements, as well as having the ability and good fortune to gig steadily enough to support himself while playing original music.
The unique and remarkable success “Fisherman” is achieving made it the perfect song to be included in Acoostic Sessions season two, taking place in NDG on one of Montreal’s famous outdoor pianos. Jesse was joined by friends and colleagues Alex Lebel (piano) & Jason Lariviere (banjo).
What would you consider your style? Genre?
I’m a prolific songwriter and wrote my first song when I was 15, so I’ve taken on various styles. I like writing old school rock ‘n’ roll and country music.
What made you want to use one of Montreal’s public pianos?
Alex Lebel, my keyboardist, loved the idea. We practice there often.
Why NDG? Does that neighbourhood hold something special for you?
It’s just a local neighbourhood that I play in regularly. Its an English part of town. I write songs in English. When you’re singing original songs, it helps if the crowd can understand the words.
What was the inspiration behind “Fisherman”?
A friend of mine moved to Montreal. He was a rapper name Crooked Lines. He liked it here, wanted to stick around but couldn’t speak French and didn’t believe he could find employment. Also, there was a cool black guy named Willy that used to walk around Little Burgundy. He said he was a drummer.
Is this song a comment on language and cultural tensions in Montreal?
It’s a comment on a guy coming from out west and having a hard time adjusting to a city where you need to speak French to find employment.
How do you feel about the supposed barrier between Francophone and Anglophone?
I never really saw it. Mostly just heard about in the mainstream news until I stopped watching the mainstream news. I’m half French Canadian myself, my family mixed it up, so it’s never been an issue for me. I’ve lived in Westmount and I’ve lived in Hochelaga. I always got along fine with everybody. I love Montreal, and I love French Canadians too. Especially the women.
Language barriers don’t seem to be too hard for you to overcome, seeing as though “Fisherman” is to be adapted for release as bilingual Portuguese/English song in Brazil. How did that come about? Can you tell us more?
Sure. It comes down to my time in New York. The guitarist I gigged with was a talented Brazilian musician and an artist in his own right. We became good friends. During the time I spent hanging with him and his then-wife, I tried using my knowledge of the French language to decipher their Portuguese conversations. It only worked some of the time.
He played elective guitar at my album launch. He also happened to be the first guitarist to perform “Fisherman” live on stage with me. Well, without saying more that I can right now – I don’t know how much information my friend or his affiliates have chosen to release to the public as of yet – he took it upon himself to translate the lyrics and to perform “Fisherman” regularly after he returned to South America. He also managed to land a recording contract with Universal, and that one of the songs they’re going with. I know the tune has been recorded, it’s going to have a different title, and I expect it to be released in the near future. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
Words – Zac Strevens
Cameras – Zac Strevens
Editing – Zac Strevens & Peter Thompson
Audio – Julian Alvarez-Barkham & Peter Thompson
Direction – Zac Strevens