Montana Public Radio

Beth Anne Austein

Host and Producer

Beth Anne Austein has been spinning tunes on the air (The Folk Show, Dancing With Tradition, Freeforms), as well as recording, editing and mixing audio for Montana Public Radio and Montana PBS, since the Clinton Administration. She’s jockeyed faders or "fixed it in post” for The Plant Detective; Listeners Bookstall; Fieldnotes; Musicians Spotlight; The Write Question; Storycorps; Selected Shorts; Bill Raoul’s music series; orchestral and chamber concerts; lecture series; news interviews; and outside producers’ programs about topics ranging from philosophy to ticks.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy of the Mansfield Center

On February 17, 2021, the University of Montana's Mansfield Center hosted Dr. Anthony Fauci for the 2021 Mansfield Lecture, presenting a dialogue between the preeminent American public health figure and several Montanans, including moderator Rob Saldin of the Mansfield Center. Listen to Dr. Fauci's take on Covid-19, vaccine distribution and vaccine hesitancy in Montana, lessons to be learned from this pandemic, and how and when we'll recognize that we've returned to a version of "normal."

Master classes in songwriting and online “Kitchen COVID” concerts: when the going gets tough, folk-pop maven and playwright Jonatha Brooke gets improvisational. The enforced touring hiatus brought on by COVID-19 is hardly her first career obstacle: as part of the harmony-rich duo The Story (with college buddy Jennifer Kimball), Brooke garnered rave reviews and major label contracts - only to be dropped a few years later in a 1990s recording industry purge.  Brooke shrugged, created Bad Dog Records, and got on with releasing another nine albums.      

Whether she’s playing piano and singing jazzy pop songs onstage, or hosting “Saturday Night Jazz” for the Canadian CBC Music network, exuberance is the hallmark of pianist-songwriter-singer-arranger Laila Biali. The Vancouver, BC native has collaborated with Sting, Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega, and has headlined festivals and venues across five continents. In May 2020, with the tour supporting her new album “Out of Dust” on hold, she’s collaborating with fellow musicians via video, calling the series of recordings “Quarantunes.”

Matt Wilson personifies the spontaneous energy of jazz. He's a drummer's drummer who seems to be everywhere at once, teaching, playing, recording, and bringing jazz to new audiences with the motto: "The answer is YES ... if it's legal."

Eighteen-year-old Tanya Gabrielian's true dedication to music revealed itself one eventful day during kung fu practice. A Harvard biomedical engineering student on a gap year at London's Royal Academy of Music, she kicked, slipped, and fell forward. But instead of shielding her head with her hands, instinctively, the pianist-violist pulled her hands back, risking injury to her head in order to spare the tools of her music.

The Hot Club of Cowtown’s stylistic genesis–as well as title–stems from the realization that the great heritage of strings (guitars and violins) originates mutually with the Manouche gypsies of France and the no-less virtuosic hillbilly pickers and fiddlers of Oklahoma and Texas….Together for over 21 years and fourteen albums, the threesome of high-heeled violinist Elana James, guitarist Whit Smith and bassist Jake Erwin showed from the beginning that jazz and country music could exist together on the same page, a highly commendable achievement if ever there was one.”
-Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal

Merriam Webster's defines the noun “fruition” as “pleasurable use or possession: enjoyment.” With the cancellation of the band's 2020's live stage concerts, how does Fruition member Jay Cobb Anderson define it? The same as always: creating songs that sing for themselves. "We are pretty adamant and a bit obssessed about making the song shine in its own way, realizing the song, taking out our egos or expectations of what the song is and letting it be itself."      

Host John Floridis catches up with Seamus Egan: teen prodigy, multi-instrumentalist, film composer, bandleader and co-founder of the beloved Irish-American band, Solas. If you've watched the film "The Brothers McMullen" or listened to Sarah McLachlan’s “Weep Not for the Memories,” you've heard Egan's compositions.

Douglas Kent Hall

The vocation of instrumentalist, composer and NEA National Heritage Fellow Rahim AlHaj has brought him joy and exile, praise and torture -- always accompanied by a soundtrack provided by the 5,000-year-old Arabic oud.

Bill Reynolds

Watching The Lil Smokies set up their acoustic instruments before a show, you'd expect some gentle front-porch picking to follow. In fact, a Smokies extravaganza carries the punch of arena rock filtered through bluegrass. The five-member group from Missoula captured their live-wire onstage act in the recording studio with the recent album Tornillo, melding soulful songwriting and well-honed bluegrass chops into a uniquely sweet, cohesive sound.