Monday, October 24, 2005

My first instrument was the five string banjo. While I was still a teenager, my family moved to Minnesota where I continued to search out Bluegrass and other banjo pickers to learn from. I met a lot of characters then, many of whom remain friends with me to this day. I have always been extra lucky with the people I found and I have been blessed to have played with a lot of very talented folks through the years.

One day my friend Judy Larson said, “Come with me, there is someone you should meet”. Mike Cass was (still is, actually) a very talented Dobro player and we had a lot in common, music wise.

We decided that we should put a band together in order to improve our skills. Soon, Mike had rounded up a fiddle player. Well, a beginning fiddle player anyway. This kids name was Peter Ostroushko and he had only been playing fiddle for a couple of months. It was a stretch to apply the term “beginner” to Peter because he already played REALLY well, even having only been at it for a while. Mike also found a guitar player who was only with us for a short while, Don. This was the beginning of Bush County String Band. Don left the band and was replaced by Larry Stolberg and we also had hooked up with John Pederson on bass. Bush County String Band only existed for a few months. We played some coffee house gigs and an out of town job or two then the band dissolved. My friendship with Mike and Peter continued. We never were an official band again, but we played fairly often in differing mixes of players and for this job and that. The three of us eventually taught at the West Bank School of Music, and basically hung out off and on through the years.

Peter went on to do well on "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. He is now an empressario and has quite a following. Mike moved to Nashville and is considered to be the "pedal steel players' pedal steel player" there. He travels with Ray Price and I hear that when he plays, the other Nashville steel cats come to hang out and listen while they hold their tape recorders in the air so they can cop Mike's licks later. I have a little guitar shop and an obscure blog.


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