"I believe that performance is the musician's most creative moment. Each performance is different: a different venue, a different audience, a different configuration of the band, a different tour, different setlist, etc, etc. While a performer's job is to pull these factors together, it is the convergence of these factors that fills each live performance with the deep potential of a true creation and connection." -debpasternak
Deb Pasternak is one of the more versatile and daring performers on the singer/songwriter circuit. Even when performing with only an acoustic guitar, she is known for her ability to include many genres: country, rock, folk, blues and jazz; all in one set. Although she performs primarily with her band when home, she is a solo performer who travels easily in rock and acoustic venues across the country.
She performs in many different configurations. You can catch her solo, duo, trio, quartet, or with her full five piece band. At any moment you will hear mostly music composed by deb pasternak, but the unique interpretations of the music varies from evening to evening.
Deb works with some of the finest players in Boston as her band. Chris Rival, (Paul Rishell & Annie Raines) will often play guitar. Richard Gates (Patty Larkin, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega) plays bass; Tom West (Susan Tedeschi, Duke Robillard) plays keys, and John Sands (Aimee Mann) plays drums. With players of this caliber, Deb never has to perform a song exactly the same way, and the result is an invigorating and often surprising musical evening.
CONCERT REVIEW Deb Pasternak, Club Helsinki, March 15, 2001
"The air is hot and electric" went a lyric at one point during Deb Pasternak's torrid, fiery performance at Club Helsinki on Thursday night. Pasternak's voice itself crackled with electricity when she delivered the line, an apt metaphor or description of the atmosphere she evoked throughout her intimate, emotional show.
Backed by her three-piece band, led by producer/guitarist Chris Rival, Pasternak was more moody, acoustic rocker than sensitive singer-songwriter, although she is more often grouped in with the latter than the former. But when she stretches out, lets loose with her voice and indulges her passions as she often did on Thursday night, she is unbeatable.
Pasternak was the missing link between Neil Young-by-way-of-Nirvana grunge and Bonnie Raitt-like blues mama. Toss in a bit of moody Velvet Underground and the jazzy, Jimi Hendrix-like riff-rock of her song, "Jack," about a bad hair day, and you get a broader picture of the territory Pasternak mines.
In other hands, Pasternak's songs, many of which deal with emotional and romantic trouble, might seem suffocatingly self-referential and self-pitying. But Pasternak brings enough punk attitude, tough-girl cynicism and self-deprecating humor that she avoids all of the pitfalls and potholes that are strewn in this well-worn path.
Pasternak wasn't without her pop pleasures, either. On "Sweet Addiction," she tossed in some genuine jazz scat-singing, and not the ersatz, "shoo-be-do" kind of stuff that too often passes for the real thing. And "Closer" was a bit of Sting-like jazz-pop which avoided being cloying by embracing dissonance and spitting it out.
Pasternak is a seductive performer, alternately purring like a hurt kitten and ranting at personal injustice with trumpet-like blasts of soprano vocals. Upbeat, mainstream rock songs bumped up against jazzy ballads, and darkness clashed with light, leading to those electric sparks alluded to earlier.
Pasternak's band, including electric bass and drums, was tight enough to kick things into gear but loose enough to keep them swinging and close to the garage where her heart seems to want to go. Indeed, she even sang a number called "The Garage Song," in which judging from her sly tone and body language automobiles and the spaces they occupied weren't always what they seemed to be.
[This review originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on March 17, 2001. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2001. All rights reserved.]
Her style was rock- and jazz-edged, her songs utterly modern, her manner
introspective but not self-absorbed, reflective but not maudlin. In fact,
she mocked the clichˇ of the dour self-important songwriter.
Deb is warm and bright -- her performances get me all tongue-tied! Her
music is wonderfully inventive, coming from a pallet that combines the
best of folk with colors from rock, blues, and jazz. Her melody lines
are full of wonderful surprises. Her lyrics are smart and down-to-earth,
like a happy, well-adjusted Sylvia Plath. Her performances are wonderfully
intimate and feel like getting together with good friends. On stage,
Deb is magnetic, like the beautiful person at the party that you feel
you just have to get to know. Being in the audience at her performances
is a rare treat.
With great skill on the guitar, a wonderfully resonant voice, and a
unique understanding of humanity, Deb Pasternak speaks to my being. Sometimes,
she makes me long to explore the globe in search of the lives she is
singing about; othertimes she is already singing about my life. I love
to watch her make it all connect on stage.
Deb's songwriting abilities are modern, yet have a vintage down and
dirty feel....The flavor behind this project is immense.
She described a cowboy more precisely than many a Lone Star native:
His blue jeans stay on/While others might fall. As if that weren't enough,
she did a killer cover of Walking After Midnight stretching Patsy's blue
notes into languid jazz. Originality that connects.
Copyright © 2003 "Very Good, Debo"/ASCAP.
All rights reserved forever amen.
Photography by © Liz Linder, 2000