Seal and J Deeh Reunite again at the Montreal Jazz Festival! See J Deeh's full 4 song set!

SEAL UPDATE #4: (NOTE: I'll try to explain as much as I can without trampling on people's privacy. So I won't give any juicy details about the conversations I had with various people from the band and the crew. But I'll be as accurate as possible and tell it from my point of view.) 
Last time I updated about this subject, I had just finished playing two shows with Seal at Niagara Falls. The experience was amazing! Since then, Seal and I kept in touch over the next year and a half. He even had planned to feature me on his Jazz album (which was released last november), but the plans unfortunately fell through. Since the album's release, he'd been touring, doing press and tv shows. We kept in touch sparsely. For the holidays he kindly called to wish me a Merry X-Mas and talked about working together again. 
A couple of months ago, I heard about Seal playing the Montreal Jazz Festival like everyone through various media. I had seen him years ago at at past Jazz Fest and I planned on going to see him again for this one. Soon, people were contacting me to ask if I was going to sing with him at the show. I told them all the same thing: "I don't know". What I *did* know was that Seal gave a couple of interviews weeks before the show in which he talked about me in a complimentary, sweet way. I decided to just write him a message to thank him for being so flattering and complimentary and if he wanted, we could hang out a little before or after the show if he had time. I also mentioned that, if he wanted, I could sing with him again for the Montreal show. 
For a few days, he didn't reply. No biggie, he's busy. I frankly didn't expect him to reach out to me before the show. He didn't owe me anything. This was his concert and sometimes things don't fit well together. I didn't want to over step my boundaries. Still, I planned on attending the show as a fan. I'm a fan, first and foremost. 
Last Wednesday, I had just finished busking, and I noticed that all the money I had made that day fell out of my pocket on my way home. I was furious. Suddenly, my phone rang.
*RING RING* 
I checked my phone. Seal was calling. I smiled to myself and quickly answered. He told me he was doing a tv show (Les échangistes) at the moment and couldn't talk long, but he asked me if I wanted to open the show. He already had an opener (Rennie Adams), but they figured a way to fit me in. I would have 15 minutes. 
That night (the night before the show), I quickly tried to figure out a setlist. 15 minutes was not long but generous. So it would be 4 songs max. I began to practice the songs with the timer on my phone to see what I could fit in. Unfortunately, the timer would always ring after my third song. For this show, it was important to me as an artist to play my own songs. Even though I'm incredibly grateful that my duet with Seal of Stand By Me went viral, the song and the video does not represent me very well. I'm a songwriter, first and foremost. And even though Stand By Me is a good standard, I'll choose David Bowie's Low over it any day. If you put Prince, Bowie, Scott Walker and Trent Reznor together, you'll get a closer idea of what I'm about. This 15 minutes was a good first step to show a certain audience a taste of what I was about. 
For the setlist, I decided to start with a cover, Chris Isaak's Wicked Game, and then do two of my own songs: A new one called Tunnel and one of my very first songs, The Coloring Book. I wanted to end the show on a nice note and play Stand By Me, but the timer would always ring before I would start it. So I began to edit my songs. I took out a verse here, a verse there. The new edited versions weren't as good, but at least I could play a little bit of Stand By Me if I had time. 
Another thing I thought about was my look for the show. At first, I wanted to go all out and be all silver with jewels all over my body and face, like how I was in some of the music videos I did for my band, The Scroll. But I ultimately decided that would be a little too much for the kind of show I was supporting. So I decided to dress up and then dress down. Just have a black coat and tie, with silver pants and pointy shoes. Unfortunately, I was a little self-conscious about my appearance. I'd gained some weight because of a recent accident that left me bed ridden for a month and a half with nothing to do but eat and watch tv shows. 
4:30pm. The day of the show, I fixed some bugs on my guitar and drove to the show. Unfortunately, there was so much traffic with the Jazz Festival, I had to grab all my stuff from out of the trunk and walk a handful of blocks to the venue in my concert clothes. After passing some security, Seal's handler gave me some information about the show and introduced me to most of the crew and soundmen (all nice people). I then had a woman who was in charge of the venue's backstage take me to my dressing room, which was the size of my loft with 60 makeup mirrors and some food and drinks. 
After Rennie Adams' (the opening band) soundchecked, I brought my stuff onstage. I decided to just bring my street amplifier and mic it. After a handful of minutes of telling the soundmen what I wanted in terms of effects on my guitar and vocals, I began to soundcheck. While I played, I realized that this was going to be the first time I was going to play a solo show in this way. I looked out at the huge empty concert hall (Wilfrid-Pelletier/Place des Arts is maybe the classiest concert venue in Montreal) and began to feel a little nervous. One wrong note, one mistake and 3000 people would hear it. No band or backtrack to help support me. It was scary, but exciting. The way I handle nerves like this is to ignore my bad thoughts and just play. 'It's your job, so do it! You're in control! One note at a time'. 
After my soundcheck, I went downstairs to my dressing room. Seal wasn't anywhere to be found, so I just hung out with my little three person 'entourage' for an hour or so. 
7pm. After finally solving a little ticket/seating issue, my posse went to sit down in the theatre, while I waited backstage for showtime. 
7:15pm. The doors of the Wilfrid-Pelletier were open, but when I peeked from behind the curtain, no one was there. It was totally and utterly empty. I asked a guitar tech if the doors were open, and he said they were open "15 minutes ago". I suddenly began to feel nervous. 
7:20pm. Still nobody in the hall. Just an ocean of red seats. I'm starting in 10 minutes! 
7:25pm. I see a couple walk in and sit down. Then another. Then more people. Until the hall was almost completely filled up. I've never seen a venue fill up that fast. 
7:28pm. A woman announcer takes the mic backstage and begins to announce to the crowd. 
"Please welcome Jason Deeh Pitre!"
7:30pm. I quickly set a timer on my phone, put it in my breast pocket and I walked out onstage to a nice applause. Showtime!
I turn my back to the now silent crowd. I put my guitar on, plug in, and turn on my amp. These three simple things seem to take an eternity. I turn to the crowd. A crowd of which I could not see at all. It seriously seems like I was alone in a vast darkness. The only light: A big spotlight in my eyes. But what I couldn't see, I feel and hear. There is an audience there. Just to make sure, I approach the mic and say a meek "hello", in which the audience answers with laughter and applause. I bow and pretend to take my guitar and leave the stage, but I walk back to the mic. The 'hello' was meant to be cute, but it was also to make my brain understand that even though I can't see, an audience is there listening and watching. 
I play a chord or two, hoping that my guitar is tuned (my guitar has a bad habit of detuning itself when I'm not looking). Sounds ok. I play the opening chords of Chris Isaak and begin to sing. The sound is pretty good, but not what I'm use to. First off, my vocals seem to have way too much echo. I begin to sing the high part in the song. I feel the audience is convinced and is now with me. Wicked Game is a song that I open every busking set with. It's a crowd pleaser and a song I truly enjoy. I wanted to start the show with it because it was a safe tune to get the crowd comfortable with me. I shorten the song considerably, but still play long enough to make an impression. I then play the last chord and wait for a reaction. The reaction is generous with a strong applause. I feel relieved. 
"This is a song I wrote a few months ago", I tell the audience and begin the opening chords to 'Tunnel'. 'Tunnel' is a hard song to sing for me and it is the song of the show that makes me the most nervous. By the time I get through the midway point, I realize I'm going to be ok. My voice is in fine form. 'Those mics are good, very clear', I think to myself. I begin to think about enjoying myself. To live in the moment, so to speak. I close my eyes and just think of the emotion of the song. The words. Then suddenly, I play a wrong chord for a split second. 'FUCK!'. I'm a little too relaxed. 'Stay on the ball, Jason!'. Near the end of the song, I take a risk and do some vocal improv that I didn't practice before. I succeed, but barely. 'Be careful, Jason!'. When I play the last chord, the crowd is as generous as before and give me a great applause. 'Ok, I can continue playing my songs, cool!'
The third song of my set was The Coloring Book. 
"I wrote this song way back. And it's hard to sing. So if I... like, sing it wrong...You'll see why." I chuckle to the crowd. 
I play the opening chords of the song. 'Ah, shit! The guitar is detuned!'. I fiddle around with my fingering to see if I can hold the strings to make it sound good. It works, but just barely. I sing the first falsetto notes. 'You sound ok, but be careful, Jason'. I sing the high notes in the chorus and it sounds nice. While I sing the song I think of sadness and loss- certain things in my life that have hurt me. I almost begin to cry, but I catch myself. 'Relax, Jason! Don't ruin it! Don't exaggerate!'. I change my thoughts and focus on the song, the vocal pitch and inflection of every note. When I finish the outro of the song, the audience applauds a little louder than usual. 'They liked it. Awesome!'
I take out my phone and look at the time: "2 minutes left". It's better than nothing. 
"So I have a half a song then. I have to go. Help! I need help (with this one)!" I tell the crowd.
When I sing the opening line of Stand By Me, the crowd pleasantly reacts I know what I'm doing. I feel that the audience is with me, so at the chorus I just let them sing. They do and it sounds glorious. After the first chorus, my cell phone in my breast pocket begins to vibrate. My 15 minutes is up. I decide to end the song with a nice little outro that ends with tiny guitar notes. The crowd gives a big applause. Before I leave the stage, I grab my guitar and street amp in a somewhat meta move and walk off the stage. 'A dude just did a busking show at Wilfrid-Pelletier', I chuckled to myself. 
While Rennie Adams began to play, I went back to my dressing room and just sat there a minute, drinking water. Some of the crew was very complimentary about my performance. It was touching. I saw Seal's handler walking the backstage area and asked her if Seal was around. She said "he usually only shows up a few minutes before he plays". 'Well, I guess I'll say hi to him after the show'. 
Another woman approached me. She said she was a reporter for CBC and would like to do a camera interview with me during Seal's encore. I told her that Seal usually played Crazy (my favourite song) during his encores and that, as a fan, I would like to have my interview be conducted after that song. She looked at me funny and said "ok, we'll do it after". I then felt bad and told her I'd do the interview during Crazy like she wanted. 
I went back to my dressing room and listened to Rennie play his 30 minute set while watching him on my tv. He's a powerful singer. Rennie was on The Voice in Australia and Seal was his coach on the show. After his set, I approached him. We talked a little. We both liked the other's voice. He was a nice guy. 
A few minutes before Seal hit the onstage, I took the secret door to the seating area in the hall. As soon as Seal came on, I snuck to my seat and began to applaud with my posse. Seal appeared onstage to a rapturous applause. The band sounded tight. The first 30 minutes of the show was jazz standards. Not my favourite genre, but I must say, Seal and his band (the same band that Adele supposedly uses) blew me away. Seriously. The best jazz show I have ever seen in all the years of attending the Festival! I was so impressed. Every song was incredible, perfect versions. 
The second half of the show was Seal's own music. He played mostly songs off his first two albums. Everything sounded incredible. When he launched into Killer I was the only one standing up in the whole theatre during the ambient intro. I knew what always happened during a Seal show: When Killer plays, people get up and dance. And as soon as the beat kicked in, they did. From then on, the show was an intense workout full of dancing and sweating. To end the show, he played an amazing cover of Moving On Up and his track Life On The Dancefloor. During the latter, I snuck backstage for my CBC interview. But on my way to the interview room, I walked towards the stage to see Seal perform the last notes of Life On The Dancefloor. Suddenly, Seal runs off stage, towards me. 
"Hey, J Deeh!" Seal said, while giving me a sweaty hug. 
"You guys are incredible, man!" I yelled out. 
"Cool! You wanna to join me onstage to do David Bowie's Rebel Rebel for the encore?" 
One of my favourite Bowie songs? "Hell yeah!"
"Ok, they'll get you a guitar!"
A crew member hands me Seal's electric guitar. 
"This is Seal's guitar. He's left handed, so make sure you hold the guitar at all times or else it'll flip and hit your knees!" the crew member said. 
Seal goes onstage and begins to talk about me and then about Rennie. Telling the audience that we've inspired him and sweet things like that. Backstage I'm just jumping with excitement. 'I wanna rock!'. I then see Rennie next to me. He has his guitar too. 
Finally, Seal calls us onstage. The crowd applauds. I ask the guitarist what chords he plays for Rebel Rebel. (I knew the song and covered it with my band a couple of years back, but I wonder if Seal's band does it the same way. They do. All good.) The band launches into Rebel Rebel. The crowd is dancing and singing. Seal is moving all over the stage. I'm jumping around and doing some moves with the guitar. At one point, I notice I'm getting too crazy, so I pull back my performance a little to fit more with the rest of the band. 'Stop being Angus Young, Jason!', I think to myself. When the song ends, Rennie and I walk off stage to a huge applause. I give my guitar to the guitar tech and walk to the interview room, still sweaty from my performance. 
The interview room was full of cameramen and crew. I felt a little intimidated. The interviewer was a cool cat called Duke Eatmon. I was noticeably nervous and he tried to calm me down. The interview went ok, but I felt I was a little stiff. I shook Duke's hand, took off my mic and proceeded to walk out, but another woman stopped me and asked if I could do a French interview for TVA. I agreed. 
This time, I was more relaxed and even a little funny. I wouldn't shut up. After my interview, they all thanked me and I walked out to the living room area of the backstage. Most of Seal's band was there, along with various media, groupies and friends. A great mix of music was blaring on a stereo. I found my posse sitting in a corner waiting for me. We ate some free food that was on a handful of tables and began to socialize with people. I talked to Rennie's mom and dad who flew from Australia to see their son perform. 
Suddenly, Seal walked out of his dressing room and headed to the interview room. After an hour or so, Seal walked out. I quickly approached him to tell him thank you before I left, but he kindly said he'd be "right back". After another hour passed, Seal finally walked out of his dressing room. My posse and I walked up to him. We hugged a couple of times and chatted a little. I thanked him. "We'll talk very soon" Seal said before he walked away. 
The next day, I went to busk in Old Montreal. I haven't been busking a lot these days. When I began to play my set, a group of people approached me and gave me some money. "Can you finish Stand By Me, please?". 
I smiled, a little confused.
"You were at the show?" I asked. They all nodded. "You came here to see me?" They all nodded again. 
I began to sing their request. Making sure that every note hit just right and my guitar rang perfectly. 'It's my job. I'm in control. One note at a time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S3vnPKKDJs