Musical idol visits fiddler on his 100th

Peter Ostroushko (left) was the surprise guest at Lloyd Johnson’s birthday party in Woodbury on 12/4/2013. Dan Olson / MPRNews

The surprise came off without a hitch. The planners for Lloyd Johnson’s 100th birthday party pulled it off with the help of Red House Records recording artist Peter Ostroushko.

You’ll hear the result along with reflections from Lloyd and his wife Maxine who is 93 in a new episode of Minnesota Sounds and Voices today during All Things Considered.

Lloyd Johnson played several instruments including violin through his teen years until, he says, the family turkey business took over his life. They farmed near Harris north of the Twin Cities and he didn’t have the energy to pick up the instrument again until 40 years later.

That was the year he and Maxine retired to Florida and played the nursing home circuit. Maxine, like Lloyd, is a good vocalist, and they played as part of a band. They returned to Minnesota to be closer to family and settled in Woodbury in an apartment complex and entertain neighbors regularly.

Their repertoire as a duet, is what Maxine calls ‘trash and corn’ — golden oldies, country and western. You name the tune, it’s probably in one of their books.

Lloyd once told family and friends that his dream was to play with Ostroushko. A few phone calls later and the apartment management’s recreation director Renee Vaughan had sealed the deal including enough pieces of lemon cake, Lloyd’s favorite, to feed the masses.

After playing several songs Johnson and Ostroushko sat together and swapped musical tales and fiddle technique as celebrants ate cake and sipped coffee.  It was clear that Lloyd was happy celebrating his 100th.