Montana Public Radio

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

Courtesy of Pat Metheny

Jazz guitar master Pat Metheny has won twenty Grammy awards in ten different categories, playing and improvising a style that is modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues. in 2013, John Floridis welcomed Metheny to Musician’s Spotlight, taking a close look at the art behind Metheny's “bright, accessible modern jazz.”

Galactic (L) and Dirty Dozen Brass Band (R).
courtesy

This week, Musician’s Spotlight features an audience with some of the Crescent City’s funkiest musical kings.  In 2010, John Floridis spoke with drummer Stanton Moore and sax and harmonica player Ben Ellman of Galactic, the jam band that’s been “holding uptown down with that funky sound” since 1994. In 2011, vocalist and baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band told John how the legendary group - which began in 1977 as the house band for the Dirty Dozen Social Aid and Pleasure Club - has injected r&b and modern jazz into the brass band heritage of New Orleans.   

Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin
Courtesy

This week's Musician’s Spotlight features two Austin, TX, Grammy-winning singer-songwriters who choose not to stay at arena's length from their fans: from 2016, Patty Griffin, and from 2013, Shawn Colvin.

Courtesy of Marc Cohn / James McMurtry

From the Musician’s Spotlight archives: a pair of programs featuring Marc Cohn and James McMurtry, each of which won a Montana Broadcasters Association’s E.B. Craney Award for best non-commercial radio program.

Susan Gibson
courtesy of Susan Gibson

After penning "Wide Open Spaces," a song that blew the doors off country music for The Dixie Chicks, former Montanan (and faithful annual visitor) Susan Gibson hit the open road with a van full of happy dogs and a heart full of songs to share. But the trip hasn’t only traversed la-la land. Gibson's latest album, The Hard Stuff, takes an uplifting look at the stuff that hurts.

courtesy of the Nights of Grief and Mystery Tour

For years, Stephen Jenkinson led the palliative care department at a major Canadian hospital. Sitting at the deathbeds of over a thousand people, he discovered again and again “a wretched anxiety” around death. Recognizing this death phobia as a symptom of cultural absence rather than any individual's personal issue, Stephen and his wife Nathalie opened the Orphan Wisdom School, a learning house for “elders-in-training.”

Alicia Olatuja
Deneka Peniston

Singer, composer and arranger Alicia Olatuja first entered the national spotlight in 2013 as featured soloist with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. John Floridis caught up with Olatuja to talk about her second recording, Intuition: Songs From The Minds Of Women.

Russ Nasset and Martha Scanlon
Josh Burnham / courtesy of Martha Scanlon

If you attended college in Missoula in the last 25 years, you probably closed down the Union Club dancing to Russ Nasset and the Revelators. Nasset takes his inspiration from songs, genres and stories passed down to him from a childhood spent in Shelby, on Montana’s Hi-Line.

Rodrigo y Gabriela and Loren Stillman
courtesy of Rodrigo y Gabriela and Loren Stillman

The flamenco-tinged rock sound of Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, John Floridis’s first guests this week, melds Tomatito with Metallica and Carlos Santana with Pink Floyd.  Gabriela Quintera tells John about the making of their recent album, Mettavolution. Next, saxophone virtuoso Loren Stillman stops by to chat about the life of an in-demand “A-list" player in New York City’s jazz scene.

Moira Smiley, Howard Levy
courtesy of Moira Smiley, Howard Levy

From intricate jazz solos to his "Concerto for Diatonic Harmonica and Orchestra,” he has stretched the harmonica beyond its ostensible limits. She sings “old modal folk songs” with Solas one week and performs with the indie band tUnE-yArDs the next. This week, "Musician's Spotlight" features encores with Howard Levy and Moira Smiley, two musicians for whom visionary boundary-pushing is just an ordinary Tuesday.

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