MTPR

John Floridis

Host and Producer

John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time from household names like B.B. King, Alison Krauss and Lyle Lovett, to Montana musicians such as Eden Atwood, Darko Butarac and Tom Catmull. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.

Ways to Connect

Trombonist and composer Naomi Moon Siegel made the move from Seattle, Wash. to Missoula and has been carving out her own piece of Montana’s musical scene ever since. Hear from her on this episode of "Musician's Spotlight"

From the “Musician’s Spotlight” archives, c. March 1998, this week’s program revisits host John Floridis’ conversation with singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett before his concert at the University Theater in Missoula.

Missoula-area musicians and life partners Joan Zen and Jason Hicks discuss their longtime musical collaboration, most of whose incarnations bear Joan's name. Their most recent collection of original funk, soul and reggae is called "This Is The Fortunate Life." Zen and Hicks are John Floridis's guests this week on "Musician's Spotlight."

Vera Horan

Virtuoso trumpeter and composer Allen Vizzutti is equally comfortable – and adept - in the jazz and classical domains. Born and raised in Missoula, his dizzying performance and teaching schedule whisks him all over the world. Vizzutti is John Floridis's guest this week on "Musician's Spotlight."

Violinist, composer and singer songwriter Gaelynn Lea produces 21st century music in a style rooted in classical, Celtic and traditional folk. The 2016 winner of NPR's Tiny Desk Contest is also a disability rights advocate and an in-demand speaker, particularly concerning osteogenesis imperfecta ("brittle bone disease"), a condition that she’s had all her life.

Lea is the guest on this episode of "Musician's Spotlight"

Portland, Oregon-based Blind Pilot has landed among the top indie-pop-folk bands in the country with television appearances on Ellen and The Late Show With David Letterman, and performances at Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival. The band’s lead singer and primary songwriter Israel Nebeker visited with host John Floridis backstage at the Wilma Theater in Missoula to talk about the process of recording their most recent album, “And Then Like Lions."

Singer-songwriter Melissa Forrette decided to forgo a college volleyball scholarship. Instead, she moved to Montana to work as a wilderness outfitter in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Her first song, written in the backcountry under a starry sky, was “Big City Lights,” a reflection on what she’d left behind back home in Santa Cruz.

Listen in as Melissa visits with host John Floridis for her debut on "Musician’s Spotlight."

Michael Wilson

“Banjoist, composer, instigator” and two-time Juno Award winner Jayme Stone makes music that's been inspired by sounds from around the world. His compositions bridge folk, jazz and chamber music, and his albums both defy and honor the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling sounds. Songlines calls Stone "The Yo-Yo Ma of the banjo."

One of the most dynamic singer-songwriters of any generation, Martin Sexton returns to “Musician's Spotlight,” recording three songs in the studio (with harmony help from the Brothers McCann) and chatting retrospectively about his career.

John Floridis hosts a 25th anniversary celebration of Musicians' Spotlight with musical highlights and interview segments from some of the most engaging guests in the program's history. Featured artists include Alison Krauss, B.B. King, David Grisman, Shawn Colvin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lyle Lovett, Lila Downs and numerous Montana musicians such as Darko Butarac, Eden Atwood and Tom Catmull.

Jake Koelzer, formerly of Bozeman, Montana, brings his blend of jazz-inspired blue-eyed soul to Musicians’ Spotlight. Koelzer writes texturally rich songs that are "beautiful, thoughtful, complicated, and yet completely approachable, with lyrics are smart, compelling, and meaningful."

Montanan Izaak Opatz, a recent guest on the program as a member of the band, The Best Westerns, returns to “Musicians’ Spotlight" with solo project in hand: Mariachi Static. The album was recorded in Los Angeles, and was inspired by all sorts of things: Mojave desert camping excursions; life on a Glacier National Park trail crew; late night ping-pong tournaments - and, of course, unrequited love.

From the “Musicians’ Spotlight” archives, 2000: One of the most respected and celebrated musicians of her generation, fiddler and vocalist extraordinaire Alison Krauss visited with program host John Floridis backstage at the University Theater in Missoula in 2000.

2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the quintessential Irish-American band, Solas. That year was also marked by the release of the recording, “All These Years,” which features combinations of all the musicians who have been a part of the group over the last two decades.

From the “Musicians’ Spotlight” archives, 2010: He’s known worldwide as the lead singer for the multi-platinum selling pop-rock band, Men At Work, but Colin Hay has been performing for more than two decades as a solo artist. His music was featured on the television show, “Scrubs” and in the feature film, “Garden State,” and now Hay is witnessing a revival of interest in his work as a singer-songwriter.

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, singer, fiddle player and founding member of the Irish traditional music group Altan, talks with John Floridis about the group's thirty-year career, including their past performances in Montana.

After a decade of making music together, Paper Bird shifted their lineup, welcoming Carleigh Aikins, who joined Sarah Anderson and Genevieve Patterson as one of band's lead singers. In late 2016, the Denver band released their first recording of its songs, which often remind listeners of territory between Fleet Foxes and Fleetwood Mac. The album benefited from the production expertise of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, John Oates.

Bruce Anfinson, "Montana's Musical Ambassador."
Courtesy bruceanfinson.com

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle calls Bruce Anfinson "Montana's Musical Ambassador." Bruce's ballads and tales of ranching life, draft horses and wildfires reflect his native Montana roots. He's the guest on this episode of "Musican's Spotlight."

For more than a decade and a half, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll. They redefine that sound once again with their sixth album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted.

Multiple Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter returns to Musicians’ Spotlight for a conversation with John Floridis from her Virginia home, highlighting her most recent recording, the critically-acclaimed album, "The Things That We Are Made Of."

This week's guests on "Musicians' Spotlight" are The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. They've spent the last 35 years performing together, producing fifteen albums (seven gold, four platinum, and one double platinum), and earning one Grammy and seven Grammy nominations while touring arenas, festivals, and clubs the world over. It's rare to find musicians playing together for so long; their music endures in the hearts of several generations of dedicated fans and continues to inspire young musicians.

Joseph Navas

Singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault has taken "the small roads," building his independent career through a relentless international touring schedule and his critically-acclaimed recordings. The New Yorker praises his work as "Stark, literate songs that are as wide-open as the landscape of his native Midwest." Foucault joins John Floridis on this episode of "Musician's Spotlight."

Dolce Canto began in 2001 with eight friends who missed the a cappella compositions they'd studied and performed together in high school and college. On a whim, they decided to gather and read through some works. One public concert led to another.

As part of the Juilliard-trained, multiple award-winning Ahn Trio (with her sisters Lucia, pianist and Maria, cellist), violinist Angella Ahn has been at the forefront of artists keeping the piano trio repertoire alive and thriving. The Ahn Trio is known for its performances of new classical pieces and genre-crossing collaborations with Mark O'Connor, Michael Nyman, Pat Metheny, and Bryan Adams.

From humble beginnings in Moscow, ID, acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Ritter recorded and released his self-titled debut in 1999 after graduating from Oberlin College with a self-created “American History Through Narrative Folk Music” major. His albums have been praised for their beautifully spare songwriting, textured imagery and simple lyrics.

With "Tumbleweed," his third recording in five years, singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Murray brings a new level of maturity to his bluesy, folk-rock music. Murray, from Kalispell, Montana, credits new fatherhood for the personal lyrics and rich production qualities of this group of songs. 

Mary Carlson, Vespidae Photography

Born in Philipsburg, Montana and holding a master’s degree in Appalachian studies, instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Coty Hogue immersed herself in old music, studying with Ginny Hawker, before starting to write and record a few of her own songs alongside favorite traditional gems.

"The Shape Of Things Gone Missing, The Shape Of Things to Come” - that’s the poetic title of singer-songwriter Martha Scanlan’s most recent album. Martha returns to “Musicians’ Spotlight” to discuss this recording project as well as her efforts to shine a spotlight on threats to southeastern Montana’s unique Tongue River Valley: its landscape, pace, and way of life.

This week's “Musicians’ Spotlight” is a St. Patrick's Day special honoring some of the best Irish music we've featured on the program - traditional, contemporary, and something in between. Highlights include the duo John Doyle and Karan Casey, and sean-nós singer and former member of the Hothouse Flowers, Liam Ó Maonlaí.

The arresting vocal style of Darlingside has launched the band into the upper echelons of indie baroque-folk. Appropriately for a group that started as an a capella quartet at Williams College, there’s no designated “lead singer;" everyone sings melodies, either in harmony or in unison.

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