Alice Peacock displays her musical plumage
PROVIDED PHOTO | Alice Peacock will perform Saturday at Valparaiso's Memorial Opera House.

Like the radiant bird she shares a name with, Alice Peacock makes music flush with color and life.

Growing up as a minister's daughter in Minnesota -- where a young poet/rocker named Bobby Zimmerman first found his muse some decades earlier -- Peacock grew up in a home filled with music.

"I think that my entire family was musical certainly impacted me," Peacock said. "My dad would make up silly songs for us and play his guitar for us and we would all be putting on shows."

The bug bit her as a child. "I was always performing from an early age all throughout school," she said. "I always wanted to be a performer but wasn't sure how to go about it. I think it was in college that I had my 'A ha!' moment when I realized that I needed to stop comparing myself to all my musical heroes and 'just do what I do.' That freed me up a lot."

It was after college in 1995 that Peacock relocated to Chicago. "I wanted to live in a vibrant live music city that would afford me lots of opportunities to play out and hone my craft," she said of coming to the toddlin' town.

"I've found Chicago to be a very welcoming city when it comes to gigging and developing a fan base," she said. "The Old Town School Of Music was very instrumental in helping me be brave enough to start playing my original songs out and introducing me to other musicians who would end up being collaborators of mine."

Peacock and one of those collaborators will put on a show for Northwest Indiana music fans Saturday at Valparaiso's Memorial Opera House. The 7:30 p.m. all-ages concert is the latest installment of the Imagine Music Productions singer/songwriter series at the venue.

"It's 'An evening with...' kind of show with me and an acoustic guitar," she said. "Danny Myrick, my co-writer and co-producer on my latest record, will join me. He is a fantastic multi-instrumentalist and he'll be adding a second acoustic guitar and singing harmonies."

Aside from collaborating in her solo career, Peacock and Myrick have begun a new side project called Two Car Garage. "We've been writing some really cool stuff for that and we'll probably play a few of those songs at the gig Saturday (too)," she added.

While a fair share of tunes in the live set will come from her new album, "Love Remains," the artist will also mix in personal and fan favorites from her previous three releases "Real Day," "Alice Peacock" and "Who I Am."

It is a safe bet she and Myrick will be including in their set, "Bliss," the song she did as a duet with John Mayer on "Who Am I."

"John was on Aware/Columbia Records, which was my label at the time I did that album," she said of how they came to pair up. "Apparently he'd heard the song through my label head, Greg Latterman, liked it and asked to sing harmony on it." She called the experience "one of the very cool touchstones of my career."

While Peacock's songs have not hit many Top 20 play lists, many are recognizable for having been used in various television and films.

"‘Lovely' off of ‘Love Remains' was on last year's season finale of ‘Ghost Whisperer.' It was a really nice placement that I was thrilled about," she said. Peacock's songs have also appeared in the TV shows "Smallville" and "Dawson's Creek," plus such major films as "Because of Winn Dixie," "Men In Trees," "What I Like About You," and "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton."

While exposure via film and television has been a major boon for Peacock, radio has also been good to her. "I've gotten lots of support at radio, though it is a major nut to crack as play lists are very limited as are the genres in a lot of respects," she added.

Peacock's style is a tasty blend of folk, country and pop. The video for "Real Life," her first single from "Love Remains," was given a lot of exposure by CMT recently. While that may lead some to pigeon-hole her as "country," she thinks of herself otherwise.

"I think of myself as being able to cross genres like a Jackson Browne or a Mary Chapin Carpenter," said Peacock. "If the Eagles came out today they'd be country, as would Bruce Springsteen. I think I write poppy (as in catchy) songs that have organic Americana instrumentation. I'm not sure where that places me."

Saturday is Peacock's second in a week-long run of shows, after being on performing hiatus for a few months.

"I just had my baby six weeks ago so I don't want to overdo it," said the artist who has toured with Aimee Mann, John Mellencamp, Toad The Wet Sprocket and many others.

The birth of her son, Joseph, has clearly inspired the songwriter side of Peacock.

"I've got a couple of songs started about motherhood, love for a child, etc.," she said. "Of course I haven't had time to finish any of them because Joseph likes to be held ALL of the time. Soon I'll be able to pick up my guitar more often and I'm sure the flood gates will open creatively. Friends joke that a children's album will be in the works soon and honestly, I won't rule that out."

Another thing Peacock will not rule out is making her first concert DVD.

In the meantime, being president of the Chicago chapter of The Recording Academy (the Grammy people) keeps her quite busy, as does her "Rock for Reading" foundation.

"Its mission is to inspire people to read and to bring awareness to the issue of literacy through music," said Peacock of the foundation she co-founded in 2004 with her husband, Hugh, and renown Chicago rock photographer Paul Natkin.

"We raise money and donate books to grassroots literacy program and just gave away our 500,000th book this year. Our Web site is www.rockforreading.org if people are interested in learning more or applying for a grant," she said.

Being a child in a very musical home, Peacock learned about the power of music early in life.

"I remember how if my dad was really moved by a piece of music he might cry or dance or snap his fingers," she said. "In some ways, I really didn't have a choice but to make music. Being able to make a living at it is just an added blessing."

Alice Peacock, 7:30 p.m. March 13

WHERE: Memorial Opera House, 104 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso

COST: $20 and $30 (all-ages show)

FYI: (219) 548-9137 or MOHLIVE.COM

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