Live Performances

"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.

Live Reviews

CONCERT REVIEW Deb Pasternak, Club Helsinki, March 15, 2001
by Seth Rogovoy (GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., March 16, 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.]


Deb Pasternak is shaking up the music industry with her wit, sophistication and unique delivery as a performer. She has stretched the boundaries of the singer/songwriter genre to include such varied musical offerings as jazz and be-bop.
Martha Schuyler Thompson, American Contemporary Singer-songwriter Showcase Series

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.
Scott Alarik, Boston Globe

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.
Joe Cleveland, Folkus Project, Syracuse, NY

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.
Tanya Stepasiuk, dj, WERS, WXRV Boston

Deb's songwriting abilities are modern, yet have a vintage down and dirty feel....The flavor behind this project is immense.
Baker, Boston Soundcheck

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.
Steve Brooks, The Austin Chronicle

I realized why they had a full house from the first number. Like many great performers I've seen live, Deb sometimes seems to be half operating in the here and now, and half in some place [with] a world of feelings and possibilities that she is willing to take you into for a moment or an hour or just a set.
David Robinson, Northeast Performer

The best of the night's romantic troubadours was Deb Pasternak: her songs had a few more layers of emotional depth than the norm, and her flexible jazz tinged vocals sure didn't hurt.
Brett Milano, The Boston Phoenix

Copyright © 2003 "Very Good, Debo"/ASCAP. All rights reserved forever amen.
Photography by © Liz Linder, 2000