Although he spent his early childhood in Athens, OH, Nygaard moved to southern California, with his father and older brother Steve, after his parents were divorced in 1960. While he took piano lessons for two years, beginning at the age of seven, and cello lessons for six years, from the age of nine, Nygaard switched to the guitar after receiving a six-stringed instrument for a 16th birthday present. After graduating from Millikan High School in Long Beach, CA, and briefly attending the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, Nygaard joined his first band, the Sou'wester String Band, in 1974.
Moving to Seattle in 1975, Nygaard worked as a musician in numerous bands and guitar teacher while holding part-time jobs as a baker, stockroom clerk, and book salesman. In 1977, Nygaard placed first in a fiddle contest at the Festival of Fiddle Tunes in Port Townshend. Nygaard worked in a duo with singer/songwriter Linda Waterfall from 1981 until 1984. Although they were married in 1983, Nygaard and Waterfall were divorced six years later.
Following their divorce, Nygaard disbanded the contemporary jazz trio that he had formed in 1988 and moved to San Francisco where he joined Laurie Lewis and Grant Street. He remained with the band until 1991 when he signed up with Tim O'Brien.
No Hurry, Nygaard's debut solo album, was released in 1990. His second solo album, Dreamer's Waltz -- released in 1996, was nominated for a NAIRD award in the Acoustic Instrumental category. In 1997, "Scotland" -- Nygaard's contribution to the Bill Monroe tribute album, True Life Blues -- was nominated for a Grammy in the instrumental country category. As a guest artist, he shared in the Grammy awarded to the album as Best Bluegrass Album. The same year, Nygaard became an assistant editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine. Nygaard married his second wife, Anne Hammersky, in 1994. Their son, Josef, was born shortly afterwards. ~ Craig Harris