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

Flickr user, Speckled Jim. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Food Guys, Jon Jackson and Greg Patent, discuss the 2018 book, Pandora's Potatoes: The Worst GMOs, by Caius Rommens, former director of biotech research and development at the potato processing and marketing company, J.R. Simplot. Rommens, a genetic engineer, developed Simplot's genetically-modified potatoes, which were approved for commercial planting in the U.S. in 2014.

Mark Harry Westling

A hundred years ago in Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, the wailing sounds of rebetiko might have dominated the ambiance of a taverna, a hashish den - even a barbershop.  Set to Greek and Anatolian rhythms by refugees who'd fled the Greco-Turkish wars for port cities like Piraeus, these 19th and early 20th-century songs of poverty, love, drug addiction, matchmaking, sorrow and migration reflected the lives of people in the urban underground. Today's shorthand for the genre is the "Greek blues." A rebetiko revival is in full swing, embraced by young musicians throughout the Greek diaspora - including the members of Los Angeles's Greek Rebetiko Trio.

Moira Smiley
Michael Wilson

She sings “old modal folk songs” with Solas one week and performs with the indie band tUnE-yArDs the next. You might catch her with her own group as they re-imagine the piano miniatures of Bartók, or at a choir rehearsal of her original choral compositions.  Musical improviser and experimenter Moira Smiley returns to “Musician’s Spotlight” on the heels of her latest release, “Unzip The Horizon.” About it, she says: “The lonesome freedom and experience of years on tour were midwife to this music, all about seeing down to the origins of anxiety and up into the freedoms we ignore.”

Jorge Alverez. CC-BY-NC-2.0

John Floridis hosts an hour-long roundup of pop music bands who'll be playing the concert stages of Western, Central and Southwest Montana this summer.  In this Monday Music Special, John highlights just a few of the bands presented by The Red Ants Pants Festival, Logjam Presents, The Moonlight Festival, The Under the Big Sky Fest, The Bob Marshall Music Festival, and The Big Sky Brewing Series.

Flickr user, Justin Henry. CC-BY-2.0

The Food Guys, Jon Jackson and Greg Patent, discuss an article published in the March edition of the journal Science about a study linking the consumption of high fructose corn syrup with colorectal cancer. According to the study, drinking a modest amount of high-fructose corn syrup -- the equivalent of about 12 ounces of a sugar-sweetened beverage daily -- accelerates the growth of intestinal tumors in mice, independently of obesity.

Their hypnotic repertoire may be more than 700 years old, but every time the members of Riyaaz Qawwali take the stage, they introduce a new audience to the rhythms and melodies of qawwali. For the last twelve years, from their home in Austin, Texas, the band has toured to bring alive the joyous sounds of this South Asian music, played on harmonium, violin, tabla and handclaps, and sung in Urdu, Punjabi, Persian and Brajbhasha.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim

The Food Guys, Jon Jackson and Greg Patent, discuss the recent large-scale disappearance of European honey bees, both wild and managed.  Although the phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder probably peaked in 2007, twelve years later, honeybee losses remain high, thanks to the “four p’s” — poor nutrition, pesticides, pathogens and parasites.

Howard Levy
Courtesy Howard Levy

When Howard Levy pulls out an ordinary harmonica, extraordinary sounds emerge. From intricate jazz solos to his "Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica and Orchestra,” he's stretched the little instrument beyond its ostensible limits. “Coltrane is my musical hero, along with Bach,” says Levy. “I just always wanted to try to play some of those tunes on the harmonica." In the 1970s, Levy came up with his own technique to play the full chromatic scale on a diatonic harmonica, and his ongoing forty-plus year run of musical experiments was off and running. 

Courtesy of Judy Collins

This edition of Musician's Spotlight features one of the linchpins of late 20th-century American popular and folk music, the singer who popularized classic songs by writers both beloved and unknown: Joni Mitchell, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger, Ian Tyson, Bob Dylan, Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill -- and "trad. arr. Collins."  Starting with 1961's "Maid of Constant Sorrow" all the way up to 2017's "Everybody Knows" (with Stephen Stills) and into the present, her recording and performing career has thrived alongside a passion for social justice.  Judy Collins is John Floridis's guest.

Courtesy of Kristin Korb

There aren't many jazz bassists who can sing with such ease, skill and style that you forget they're also playing bass. Ten recordings and several world tours into her performing career, Montanan Kristin Korb wields her double bass and woos audiences with romantic, danceable tunes that reflect her reverence for melody - like the songs of Johnny Mercer, whose unpublished "orphaned" texts Korb set to music and recorded on "Beyond the Moon."  Korb teaches widely and performs and records with the likes of Llew Matthews, Kim Richmond, Pete Christlieb, Jeff Hamilton, Alex Riel and Jan Lundgren. Any given summer, you might find her playing a jazz society in California, a Rhône River cruise in France - or the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings, Montana.

Pages