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

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audiences with romantic, danceable tunes that reflect her reverence for melody - like the songs of Johnny Mercer, whose unpublished "orphaned" texts Korb set to music and recorded on "Beyond the Moon."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.

Singer songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman.
Courtesy Beth Nielsen Chapman

Singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman has carved out a career of over two-and-a-half decades, writing hit songs for artists like Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Martina McBride and Bette Midler, while creating a niche for her own recordings and performances  - and simultaneously overcoming significant life challenges and losses.

But that only scratches the surface of this dynamo of creativity. "Musician's Spotlight" host John Floridis says one of the biggest challenges of this interview is to convey the real depth of Chapman's fascinating musical career.

Learn more about Beth Nielsen Chapman on this episode of  "Musician's Spotlight."

Tom Beetz (CC-BY-2.0)

Pat Martino had been playing jazz guitar professionally for nineteen years in 1980 when a severe brain aneurysm sent him into life-saving surgery - and then into life-altering amnesia. He barely recognized his own parents, let alone his guitar, and felt as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed... naked." Martino's long journey back from that musical erasure began with his father playing back his own recordings for him. Slowly, he taught himself how to play again. By the early Nineties, Martino had returned to the soul-jazz, post-bop and jazz-rock fusion scene.

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