“Hello. I’m Peggy Honeywell and I’m going to sing a couple songs for you.” With those simple words, the singer took the stage for a short performance at Soco Gallery last week. Paintings created by her alter ego Clare Rojas adorned the walls. Oil on linen. Abstract shapes bursting with color. A perfect backdrop for music.
Peggy sang love songs. The slightest bit of reverb on the vocals resembled an echo in a chamber. White candles floated on water in glass vases, emitting the room’s only light. A hundred tiny flames, burning together, warmed the room.
Peggy Honeywell’s catalogue of songs often touches on blues, bluegrass and country, and it sometimes features a band or small percussion section. But not this evening. It was just Peggy and her guitar, finger-picking campfire songs in a candlelit room. Ms. Honeywell, clad in black with cropped hair to match, wore just enough gold to reflect the light when she tilted her head or moved her fingers up the fretboard of her guitar.
The admiring audience, seated mostly on pillows, watched in silence. The crowd of 30 or 40 people included the grandparents of Clare’s daughter. They had driven all the way from Maryland to be there for the performance. “We would have been here earlier,” they said, “but I-85 is what it is.”
Her first number established the tone for the rest of her short set: hushed but mighty. At its conclusion, there was no applause. The audience, unsure of how to react to such intense beauty, chose rapt quiet. The intimacy of the space and the timbre of the song demanded it.
Ms. Honeywell’s second tune was “Will You Still Take Good Care of Me,” the title track of her most recent record. “Bring me dinner,” she sang. “Make the bed.” Peggy’s songs are about the gloriously mundane love of family and home. “Are you guys okay?” she asked at the end. The crowd responded with laughter, and the applause was loud and frequent thereafter. The clapping, followed by whispers, returned to silence.
The next two songs trod a similar path as the first two, plaintive at times but meditative throughout. Next was "My Love is True and Trusty", a step up in tempo and a shift in tone, from wistful to spirited. The sixth and final number returned to form, one last folk song to close the set. A grateful audience clapped loudly.
The crowd dispersed throughout the gallery. We mingled with the artist and each other, sipping wine and beer, before drifting away into the unseasonably warm November evening.