Montana Public Radio

Musician's Spotlight

Tues. 7 p.m.

Today's most talented and compelling musicians visit Musician's Spotlight to "talk shop" and give you a deeper insight into their music. Host and producer John Floridis brings his own musical expertise  along with over a decade and a half of experience conducting interviews.

Guests on the show have included legendary musicians like B.B King; Alison Krauss; Lyle Lovett; Wilco; Brandi Carlile; Daryl Jones of the Rolling Stones; The Cowboy Junkies; Richard Thompson; Mary Chapin Carpenter; Bruce Cockburn; Shawn Colvin; and Chris Hillman of the Byrds; along with talented Montana artists like Jeni Flemming, Tom Catmull, Martha Scanlan, John Dunnigan, Jenn Adams, Jack Gladstone and Eden Atwood.

Musician's Spotlight archive on iTunes

courtesy of John Roberts

In grade school in Malta, Montana, eleven-year-old John Roberts — the trombone player, not the Supreme Court justice — watched as the band director, playing a blues solo, muted the bell of his trombone with a handleless toilet plunger. Roberts's destiny was sealed. "I guess that's my personality right there. I guess I gravitate towards things that are brash and obnoxious."

Courtesy of Cyrille Aimée

"Michael Jackson brushes shoulders with Sarah Vaughan in the person of Cyrille Aimée, a saucy, curly-haired jazz singer with one foot in tradition and the other in electronics." - Stephen Holden, New York Times

Courtesy of Bettyle LaVette

Bettye LaVette's big ears, wide-open mind and ability to get inside a song's lyric, melodic line and harmonic implications “LaVetticize" every song she interprets. Her career parallels the rise of soul music, and she's among a tiny handful of her contemporaries who continue to create vital recordings.

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.      

Storyhill Re-Imagines The Music Of Christmas

Dec 29, 2020
Courtesy of Storyhill

Since high school, Chris Cunningham and John Hermanson of Storyhill have been mining the synergistic power of harmony singing and the scenic imagery of Montana to forge their memorable, acoustic guitar-based songs. On an auspicious 2020 winter solstice, during the great confluence of Jupiter and Saturn, they chatted with Musician's Spotlight host John Floridis about their new holiday album.

John Floridis

Host John Floridis is spinning tunes for the winter solstice and holiday season, featuring songs by artists who have appeared on Musician’s Spotlight during its 25-year tenure: Ben Harper, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Turtle Island String Quartet, Bonnie Raitt, the Indigo Girls, the Cowboy Junkies and Derek Trucks and others.

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.”

 Justin Townes Earle (left) and Elllis Marsalis, previous guests on "Musician's Spotlight," died in 2020
Courtesy of Justin Townes Earle and Ellis Marsalis

As part of Montana Public Radio's "Honor, Hope and Healing" Week, Musician's Spotlight highlights two individuals, each part of a family musical dynasty, who didn't survive 2020.

Courtesy of John Scofield

Legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield speaks with host John Floridis and answers questions submitted by Musician’s Spotlight listeners through social media.

courtesy of Chris Smither

"Cast your mind back to the first time you heard Hank Williams, Big Bill Broonzy or JJ Cale and remember how good it felt. Think of the opening encounter with Leon Redbone or Leo Kottke. They say newcomers to Chris Smither’s brand of country blues-tinged southern folk experience those same emotions. It’s true." - Maverick

Pages