Not to be confused with the Icelandic singer of the same name, Bjork Ostrom traces the etymology of his Christian name to the Scandinavian word for birch tree, which as many may know, is a very versatile tree consisting of many intricate layers of bark that are addictive to peel away. This is the most fitting simile to Bjork’s style of music one could find. In his new EP, Sunshine and Starlight, we find that Mr. Ostrom has diverged from his solo acoustic act to add new layers of sound by utilizing a full-fledged band. While this adds new dimension to his music, it does not in any way diminish the solo acoustic sound where Bjork has his roots.
For those of us blessed to have attended one of his shows, we have been privvy to a most witty and entertaining stage presence. When not filling the time in-between songs with amusing antics, quirky jokes, and warm conversational banter, Bjork entertains by creating parodies of both contemporary and oldie songs. His ability to persuade audience participation is accentuated by the natural intuition that Ostrom possesses in reading the mood of the room. To say that his performance is three dimensional is an understatement.
Another component to the music abilities of Ostrom is his catchy lyrics. There is an aesthetic complex that is imbued in the songs: mountains touching the sky; the feeling of air in September; looking before seeing. One immediately recognizes the influence of relationships between his home, friends, faith and family contained within the lyrics.
Born in the semi-rural town of Cambridge, Minnesota, Bjork found his passion for music through trial and error. He discovered that playing the saxophone was taboo, the shakuhachi wasn’t a popular instrument in band, and his brother had a monopoly on the drum set. Ergo, he was forced to pick up the guitar…and never put it down. Although he learned the basics of the instrument through a few formal lessons, Ostrom honed his ability to play impromptu at hootenannies (musical get-togethers featuring a menagerie of every instrument under the sun) hosted at his cousins’ house with family and friends. Soon he diverged from playing at hootenannies to local coffee shops, and from there it was off to colleges and clubs.