Halperin brings the heat

Peter Halperin’s Woodstove Studios proves to be a powerful performance venue.


Peter Halperin has been a professional musician and songwriter since he was young. In the 1970s, Halperin was part of the folk scene, and by the time he was 17 years old, he was playing in clubs like Folk City and the Gaslight in New York City.

“I’ve always been kind of a folk, country-blues, and blues musician, and my songwriting tends to head in that direction as well. I also like gospel, and some of my stuff leans that way too, like my song ‘Let Your Heart Decide,’” he said.

Eventually, Halperin went to school and became a psychiatrist, but his love for music never dimmed, and he kept his songwriting going at a slow burn. He first moved to the Vineyard in 1990, and began playing keyboard for the band Miracle Cure. Life isn’t always linear, however, and he eventually returned to the mainland to teach at Stony Brook University before permanently settling on the Island two years ago.

“About seven years ago, a Steinway grand piano came into my life, and I began playing more classical music. I was still doing consultations for primary care doctors, but COVID proved I could do this work by Zoom and telephone, so I jumped on the opportunity to move here permanently,” Halperin explained.

Now he works two days a week, leaving him more time to focus on music and his beloved brainchild, Woodstove Studio. Woodstove Studio is a professional community performance space and recording studio that Halperin built on his West Tisbury property. The very first performance was on his 70th birthday, summer 2022.

“I built Woodstove Studio because I needed a place for my Steinway,” Halperin joked. “But I also wanted to create a year-round community resource for live music. Often professional musicians don’t get to practice performing as much as they’d like, and I wanted to offer a place for them to play around with pieces that aren’t necessarily finished, or just to practice new material.”

Halperin hosts monthly jam sessions at Woodstove Studio, inviting Island musicians — of all genres — to perform for invited guests. He loves to collaborate, and often performs an opening piece, or plays at least one song, with each visiting musician. When seeking out talent, he asks around, and musicians are finding him now that word has gotten out.

I attended the May Woodstove Studio performance, and it was a blast. Inside the studio, Halperin’s Steinway piano sits center stage, surrounded by his other musical instruments and sound equipment. The space seats up to 40 people, and was nearly full. The intimacy of the place was wonderful — like watching great musicians in the comfort of your living room. Halperin made some intentional choices when having the studio built, and those choices seem to be paying off. High ceilings and excellent equipment make for amazing sound. He was joined by local blues musician Delanie Pickering, another uber-talented Island performer. Together they played a litany of Halperin’s original songs, dancing back and forth with their instruments, cuing one another with a slight eyebrow lift, a hand signal, or a friendly, “You go!” At some points, there were dueling blues guitar riffs that brought the house down, and Halperin showed his versatility by moving from keyboard to electric guitar.

Currently, Halperin is savoring the time he has to work on his own music, and focusing on the Vineyard music scene. For now, he wants to keep Woodstove Studio open to Island performers only. “I’m not saying I’d never have off-Island musicians perform at some point, but there are just so many talented musicians here. I want to keep the focus local,” he said.

The list of musicians who have performed at Woodstove Studio so far is impressive, and includes Kate Taylor, Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, Jeremy Berlin and Eric Johnson, Jemima James, Willie Mason, Gerry Yukevich, Adam Howell and Queen of Cups, Tristan Israel, Delanie Pickering, Molly Conole and Phil Dietterich, Rick O’Gorman, Barbara Dacey, Jonathan Halperin, and Adele Dreyer. Coming up, Halperin and his wife, Martha, will be offering BBQ after the performances, and are asking guests to bring a dish to share.

Woodstove Studio sessions are held the first Sunday of each month at 4 pm. Due to limited seating, an RSVP is required. To get on the mailing list, please reach out to Peter Halperin at peterhalperin@comcast.net. Donations are encouraged, and proceeds go to guest musicians.