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Peter Ostroushko
Postcards
Review By Steven Stone
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  Anyone who's tuned into Garrison Keiller's "A Prairie Home Companion" radio program has heard Peter Ostroushko. He's been a regular member of the show's house band since its inception. His artistic sensibilities have contributed in no small part to the show's musical personality. On his latest CD, Postcards, Ostroushko demonstrates the entire breadth of his creativity with thirteen original tunes that span the gamut of American roots musical traditions.

Many of the tunes on Postcards were originally written for guest performers or particular "A Prairie Home Companion" show. The opening cut "Manassas Junction" was composed for a broadcast from Wolftrap Performing Arts Center in Vienna, Virginia, which is only a few miles from the famous civil war battleground of Manassas. This fiddle tune draws its style and feeling from the musical styles of the 1850's and 1860's. Other compositions, such as "Baghdad Blues," have more contemporary influences. This song was written just after the coalition forces invaded Iraq. "Cashdollar's Berkshire Blues" came about when Ostroushko needed a tune for lap steel virtuoso Cindy Cashdollar for a show from Tanglewood, MA. The tenth song on the album, "Tecumseh," has a form that draws inspiration from the Cape Breton musical tradition of shared lead fiddle lines but couples the performance technique with a decidedly American melody and rhythmic pattern.

Instead of using studio players Ostroushko recorded Postcards primarily with the musicians with whom he first played the songs on "A Prairie Home Companion." The "Shoe Band" regulars include Pat Donahue on guitar, Marc Anderson on percussion, Dan Chouinard on accordion and piano, Richie Dworsky on piano and organ, Gordy Knudtson on drums, join guests Ruth MacKenzie and Natalie Nowytski on voice, Joel Sayles on bass, Diane Tremaine on cello and Arkady Yushin on guitar. Ostroushko plays all the fiddle, mandolin, and mandocello parts. Recorded and mastered by Mathew Zimmerman at the Wild Sound Recording Studio in Minneapolis, MN, Postcards sounds wonderful. Its relaxed and open sonics allow the subtle details of Ostroushko's playing to come through. The percussion never overpowers the other instruments and every musical voice has its own distinct space in the mix.

With Peter Ostroushko's time-consuming commitment to "A Prairie Home Companion" if you want to hear him play live you'll have to attend a show or tune in on the radio. But if you desire more than just a weekly installment of his music, Postcards delivers an ample amount of must-have musical missives that you can enjoy anytime you please. 

 

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