Finding a voice all her own
The Record
Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ramsey native Katie Pearlman has a unique sound that she has developed in the 17 years she's been playing music.
Live, however, the road runs parallel to Karen Carpenter, the famed alto vocalist who simultaneously played the drums. While Carpenter was eventually forced away from them for television audiences, Pearlman's drum set is always front and center, set near a mic while she leads her four-piece band.

"It's very different, [but] I still get to connect with the people out front, so it works pretty well," the 27-year-old Ramsey native said.

For Pearlman, who now lives in West Hempstead, N.Y., that personal connection has driven everything from her first few acoustic gigs, which steadily grew her fanbase, to her ultimate goal of touring nationwide as the Katie Pearlman Band, which includes husband Jeff Pearlman ..s, Tom Bowler on bass and Joe Cesare on guitar.

It was the same connection that got the ball rolling on her debut album, "Dreaming Again," when guitarist/engineer Ken Teich approached Pearlman at a show, eager to play on her songs. Recorded between Teich's studio in Long Island and in Vermont, the 11-song record was mixed in Queens and mastered in Manhattan.

Though Pearlman had recorded with various bands since she began playing 17 years ago, "Dreaming Again" was her first go at a solo album, and her first chance to take charge of her sound.

"I learned a lot of communication skills and got the guts to say 'I disagree and I really would like it to sound like this' and the end result was what I wanted it to be," she said. "This time I didn't have to compromise anything."

Pearlman, who plans to start work on a second record, cites Aretha Franklin, Joan Osborne and Lee Ann Womack among vocal influences, but her band's sound also has traces of Phish, the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac and the Band, with many songs featuring keys and electric guitar solos. The lyrics are strikingly honest, something Pearlman promises she "didn't do on purpose."

"It's really about fitting the words to the melody at first, and I realize now it turned out to be really emotional," she said. "This is my first album, and it was my way of finding a way to express feelings."

Pearlman's next performance will be at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, a place she considers one of her "all-time favorite music venues," and virtually the only place in Pearlman's native North Jersey that her band plays.

"Last time we went there, there were a couple people I hadn't seen since I graduated," she said. "It's kind of a reunion of sorts."