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

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.

When Camila Meza moved to New York in 2009 from her native Chile, American jazz fans discovered her rare combination of talents; Meza is a singer, guitar player, songwriter and arranger. Her expressive phrasing and unique vocal timbre, combined with soulful improvisations on the guitar, take us on a joyful musical journey full of beauty and adventure.

Darrell Scott is one of the luminaries of "Americana" and American folk music; he’s a multi-instrumentalist, an award-winning songwriter, and a powerful interpreter of songs of all stripes. Scott’s most recent recording project, "Ten," lies very close to his heart; it's ten songs by the late Montana doctor/singer-songwriter, Ben Bullington, with whom Scott struck up a close friendship in the last years of Bullington's life. 

More than forty years after he founded the legendary Kronos Quartet, violinist David Harrington's passion for string music - and his drive for nailing a live performance - is stronger than ever. Harrington recalls the origins of the pioneering quartet's vision and reflects on the diversity of musical styles represented in its huge repertoire of commissioned works.

The band Snarky Puppy has been described as "a truly different kind of musical animal."  Once Texas’s best-kept musical secret, they’ve become a Grammy-winning jazz, funk world, soul and pop combo, collecting fans like Prince and Pat Metheny along the way. Their most recent recording, a collaboration with Metropol Orkest, a Dutch orchestra, has topped Billboard charts in several categories.

Host John Floridis gets reacquainted with singer-songwriter (and past “Musicians’ Spotlight” guest) Patty Griffin. They discuss the making of her recent recording, "Servant of Love," as well as what it means to be a middle-aged artist.

The Missoula jazz fusion quartet The Captain Wilson Conspiracy make their first (and possibly last) appearance on "Musicians’ Spotlight." Steve Kalling, Keaton Wilson, and Ed Stalling talk with John Floridis about the challenge of keeping a collaborative music project vibrant and current while its members maintain their "day" jobs - or graduate from Ph.D. programs and get jobs elsewhere.

John Floridis caught up with guitarist-composer-bandleader Dweezil Zappa during Dweezil’s stint at the 2015 Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival in Bigfork, MT. As the "Zappa plays Zappa" tour (a tribute to Dweezil’s late father, Frank Zappa) continues, he's released the first album of his own work in over a decade, "Via Zamatta'."

This week on "Musicians' Spotlight:" “Wild Child doesn’t want a place to hide. Song after song, town after town, they’ll wear their hearts on their sleeves, addicted to the rush that only comes when thousands of strangers know all their secrets and sing them back, because they’re the audience's secrets, too.”  

"We want to write about a world both intimate and vast, about little people on Great Plains." So says vocalist Edda Glass, whose ethereal voice provides the counterpoint to the deceptively complex guitar work of Max Hatt. The duo, formerly of Helena, Montana and now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, combine folk, jazz, and a touch of bossa nova with Glass's vocal lyricism.

Cheesecake Studio

Since his debut at age thirteen with the Cotton Club All-Star Band of Harlem, guitarist and singer "King" Solomon Hicks has been winning over audiences at music festivals, clubs, churches, and rock arenas around the world with his virtuosic mix of blues, jazz, funk, gospel, classical, R & B, Afro-Cuban and classic rock.

Madeleine Peyroux’s sultry voice and winsome blend of folk, pop and jazz songs have taken her to concert halls, jazz clubs and festivals all over the world.

Host John Floridis engages in some serious guitar shop-talk with Eric Johnson and Mike Stern, two iconic guitarists whose music has, for decades, pushed the boundaries of jazz, rock and pop music.

Never one to hold back his opinion - musically, politically or otherwise -  James McMurtry ("America's fiercest singer-songwriter" - CNN) returns to “Musicians’ Spotlight.”

The funky “heart-on-the-sleeve” blues-soul-reggae of Brent Jameson and The Sordid Seeds have made them a favorite at western Montana clubs and festivals.

Legendary jazz saxophonist Azar Lawrence released "Prayer For My Ancestors" in 2008, 33 years after his 1976 album, "People Moving". But the long gap between recordings doesn't mean Lawrence has been short of work. He's known as the go-to sideman for McCoy Tyner, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw.

Tim O’Brien is one of the most respected and versatile songwriter-performers in bluegrass and American traditional music. He’s won numerous Grammy and International Bluegrass Music Awards and has released ten solo recordings, while contributing to dozens more. In November 2013 O’Brien was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle was born and raised in Spokane, WA, the son of two music educators. Since 1999, he's made a career in New York City as the go-to player for any jazz band in need of a trombonist. Besides touring as a frontman and releasing recordings under his own name, Keberle’s list of collaborators includes Wynton Marsalis, Beyonce, Sufjan Stevens, Alicia Keys and, through soundtrack work, Woody Allen.

Beth Wood describes herself as a "modern-day troubadour and believer in the power of song."

Famed blues guitarist B.B. King in a 2009 performance
Tom Beetz

In June 2004, John Floridis and "Musicians' Spotlight" co-host Brian Kopper had the opportunity to talk shop with B.B. King on his tour bus.

Tarina Westlund

The Portland Cello Project's repertoire includes Bach, Kanye West, and video game themes. They've carved out a niche based on the philosophy "Bring the cello to places where you wouldn't normally hear it."

Red Baraat's Bhangra drum and brass rhythms originate in the Punjabi wedding celebrations of Northern India, but the music is seasoned with a Brooklyn, NY mixture of funk, go-go, Latin, and jazz. Festivals and concert venues across the world have highlighted the band's party sound. Host John Floridis visits with the group during their tour stop in the Bitterroot valley.

Vocalist Moira Smiley balances a dizzying list of simultaneous projects: her own group VOCO; the indie rock band tUnE-yArDs; The Lomax Project; Irish supergroup Solas; and work with Billy Childs.

After his YouTube performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral, ukulele virtuoso and composer Jake Shimabukuro’s career skyrocketed. Several recordings later, he has toured his “Uke Nations” show internationally, and continues to combine elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk and flamenco in his repertoire for this “under-the-radar” instrument.

Jaime Vedres

In 1991, Marc Cohn took home the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. In the two decades since, he has recorded a series of self-titled albums full of piano-based gospel-blues folk songs, and has performed around the world. In 2005, a harrowing near-death experience helped sharpen Cohn’s musical focus.

Bridging the gap between finely-honed art rock and funky, jazz spirited dance grooves, Locksaw Cartel
brings a unique combination of performance styles to the stages of Montana.

Lee Ritenour

Jan 29, 2015

Name a musician who has received one Grammy award and seventeen Grammy nominations, and who recorded 40 albums under his own name and over 3,000 recording sessions as a sideman, accompanying Pink Floyd, Dizzy Gillespie, Simon and Garfunkel, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, among others.

McElroy Guitars

Though she is known as one of Leonard Cohen's go-to backup vocalists, Grammy-nominated singer, composer and arranger Perla Batalla is an artist with a capital "A."

Trevor Rogers

Jan 1, 2015

The Clumsy Lovers’ songwriter and lead vocalist Trevor Rogers visited host John Floridis to discuss his recent solo recording, Are You Happy Now? Rogers talked about balancing recording and touring with his  full-time gig as a father and husband, as well as the impact on his songwriting from the years he spent living in Missoula.

John Floridis hosts a holiday retrospective edition of "Musician's Spotlight," featuring music by artists who have appeared on the show during the past decade and a half. You'll hear music by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; Derek Trucks with McCoy Tyner; NewGrange; John Gorka; Jerry Douglas; Alison Krauss with Natalie MacMaster; Karan Casey; and The Indigo Girls with Brandi Carlile.

Pages