PEGGY ATWOOD: BIO
An appearance by Peggy Atwood is always a kaleidoscopic and stimulating experience.
Atwood draws an audience culled from many cultures and walks of life, every bit as colorful as she.
In her Greenwich Village days, one favorite audience member was the mounted traffic officer who, without fail, would tie his horse up to a parking meter in front of the Speakeasy and saunter into her show, laying his helmet and gloves on the bar.
Naturally, from then on, the rest of the audience was on its best behavior.
What they came to hear was fresh, spontaneous, cutting edge.
Atwood was never a follower, always out in front with her bold, unconventional artistry.
Her music is a mirror of the independence and risk-taking she acquired from years of nomadic living.
Traveling the world as a military brat, she grew up speaking five languages, the daughter of a diplomat, living all around Europe and the Middle East, as well as Virginia and New England.
Peggy started out at the age of five singing in church and kindergarten choirs, and was often chosen to sing with the adults as a featured soloist.
Piano was her first instrument, but due to the traveling life, she took up guitar and soon excelled at that, performing in every school and theater function she could.
Everywhere she went, she became the token performer and was in demand at high school and college functions.
In high school in Beirut, Lebanon, she produced and performed in numerous variety shows and theatrical productions, as well as taking the lead in Bertolt Brecht's "The Caucasian Chalk Circle".
At the University of Vermont, she ran the Watertower Coffee House, booking performers and running an information center for the evolution of fledgling social consciousness and environmental awareness called "Total Involvement".
She was also a DJ and host of the "Peggy Atwood Folk Show", where unusual and eclectic writers and performers were featured that might otherwise have had little or no airplay.
But her activities were more extra-curricular than academic, and she soon set out for the open road.
Out on her own, she won first prize as Best New Artist in the New England Folk Festival, and soon was playing other festivals and working with such varied musicians as Rod MacDonald (folk) to Skye (disco) and former members of Blue Oyster Cult (rock).
Atwood has graced the stage as opening act for John Hall, Eric Andersen, Livingston Taylor, Tom Paxton, Odetta, Pete Seeger, John Stewart and Ronnie Blakeley, and has been on the bill with many other folk legends such as Joan Baez, Tom Rush and Don McLean.
Variety called Peggy Atwood "an exceptional singer of folk, often country-flavored material; the total effect is excellent".
The Village Voice termed Atwood "one of the Lower East side's best voices, her low notes like Bessie Smith, high notes like Joni Mitchell".
Peggy would be the first to tell you, she is only somewhat domesticated, a free-spirit, proudly untamed in the purest sense of the word; nature is central to her being, the heart of her work.
Peggy has acted on her passion for nature and the great outdoors, from teaching mountaineering and cross-country skiing during the day and singing at night, to serving on the Executive Committee of the New York City Sierra Club; she has also played countless benefit concerts in support of environmental causes and animal rights.
She had a long-standing association with the Hudson River Sloop Singers, co-producing their "Broad Old River" album and working closely with Pete Seeger's Clearwater project.
A few years ago, Atwood landed in Nashville to check out the new and more contemporary scene for singer/songwriters.
Publisher Bob Berg called her "one of the top five women singers in Nashville, and one the very few women who can really play the guitar".
While there, she performed at many local clubs and organized the Sunday writer's night called "Something Different" at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge Backroom, to get attention for and promote the alternative country scene, with such performers as Kamie Lyle, Neil Fagan, Josie Kuhn, Claire Davidson, Will Rambeaux, and Celinda Pink.
She also participated in co-founding a group to help Native Americans, H.O.N.A.R., and assisted in the collection and delivery of clothing and construction materials to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
However, Atwood's sense of survival caused her to move back to upstate New York, and it was just in time, as the tornadoes came through and nearly demolished her Nashville house.
Back in the saddle and currently residing high in the Catskills, she has completed two CD's, titled "Northern Country" and "Renegade of the Light Brigade", has landed a publishing contract with a New York publisher, and has been featured on the Hudson Valley Music website (www.HVmusic.com) as well as developing her own website (www.peggyatwood.com).
So come hitch your horse outside a Peggy Atwood gig and have a listen.
The wild places in your heart might be stirred as she seeks them out with her haunting and dynamic music, taking you to places real and imagined, if only for a moment in your dreams.