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Subject: Musician Peter Ostroushko (Prairie Home Companion band member, sessions with Bob Dylan) passing from heart failure at age 67 ....

Ed Tracey
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Date Posted: Sunday, February 28, 06:36:07pm

Peter Ostroushko, virtuoso musician with everyone from Bob Dylan to Minnesota Orchestra, dies

He played with musicians from Bob Dylan to the Minnesota Orchestra.

By Jon Bream, Minneapolis Star Tribune
February 25, 2021 6:54am


Nobody at Minneapolis' St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church was quite ready for musician Peter Ostroushko to speak at his own fundraiser after he'd suffered a stroke. Not ready for the humor. The honesty. The warmth. The grace. The inspiration.

Seated in a wheelchair, the virtuoso Minneapolis mandolinist/fiddler explained that the stroke had left his left arm useless. "I can't play an instrument," he pointed out. "My voice is compromised from the stroke." Just then church bells rang. "Hello?" Ostroushko responded. Everyone in the overflow crowd smiled.

During his 20-minute ad-libbed monologue, the musician, one of Minnesota's finest in any genre, understood his situation, but his mind was as sharp as ever. "I want to dispel a myth," he said. "I got a phone call from someone who left a message on the phone that they wouldn't be making it to my last concert. I'm not playing. This can't possibly be my last concert."

Ostroushko, who worked with artists ranging from Bob Dylan to the Minnesota Orchestra, died Wednesday afternoon of heart failure. He was 67.

"We have never known a better guy," his daughter, Anna Ostroushko, posted on Facebook. "Please listen to or play some music tonight in his honor."

Garrison Keillor, who relied on Ostroushko's wide range of musicality for more than 250 episodes of his radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," said Lake Wobegon "lost a dear family friend."

"Peter had a real calling and stayed true to it," Keillor said via e-mail. "To me, it was only a show, but to him it was church, and when he picked up a mandolin, he played for his folks, his people, for Marge [his wife] and Anna, the family, for northeast Minneapolis. He played the blues and made it Ukrainian. He could play 'I Saw Her Standing There,' and she was standing in the middle of Kiev. He never tried to find himself. He knew who he was the whole time."

Whether he played with big names like Willie Nelson or contributed to Ken Burns documentaries, Ostroushko was ultimately a northeast Minneapolis guy.

"Peter Ostroushko was a stone-cold, self-taught virtuoso who helped define Minnesota as we know it, the best this state has to offer," said Minneapolis singer-songwriter Paul Metsa. "A triple threat on guitar, violin, and mandolin, he also had a beautiful singing voice. A gentle giant, and when he talked, we listened."

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