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58 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
The Allman-Betts Band Forge 'The United States Of Americana'
When Duane Betts and Devon Allman decided to join musical forces, the collective heft of their last names served as an additional member of the Allman-Betts Band. Their dads, Dickie Betts and Gregg Allman, had co-founded the Allman Brothers Band.Duane Betts joins John Floridis by phone for a conversation about the band's most recent release, Bless Your Heart. The seven-piece thinks of this album as their "bonfire," built for the summer of 2020 and beyond. It's a double album follow-up to their 2019 debut, fueled by road-forged camaraderie and musical intensity, reflecting the individual and collective experiences of seven musicians, all of them drawing inspiration from the band’s symbolic hometown - a place Devon Allman calls “the United States of Americana.”
58 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Clarence Penn, 'Rhythmic Intoxication' And Thelonious Monk
Faced with a guest's musical CV longer than his own arm, the wise radio host takes a tag-team approach to conversing with in-demand drummer, composer, bandleader, producer and teacher Clarence Penn. In this edition of Musician's Spotlight, John Floridis and Montana drummer and percussionist Ed Stalling hold radio rhythm-camp with the versatile, highly respected, chops-rich Penn.
58 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Shawn Colvin's Voice Combines Sparkle, Strength And Vulnerability
How does Shawn Colvin stay busy during a pandemic? By pairing her own hits with classics of the silver screen. In Live From These Four Walls you’ll hear a solo acoustic reinterpretation of her 1992 album, Fat City, and a second album of movie songs like “Edelweiss,” “Beyond Thunderdome,” “To Sir With Love” and “Everybody’s Talking.”
58 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
American Patchwork Quartet Weave Modern Immigrant Dreams Into Songs
In 2020, singer Falu Shah, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Clarence Penn and guitarist & vocalist Clay Ross teamed up to form American Patchwork Quartet. They're on a mission to reclaim the immigrant soul of American roots music, interpreting timeless songs through a 21st century lens.It's not an accident that the four members of the group, each with a thriving solo career, came together to start reinterpreting American roots music. The quartet's goal is purposeful: to unleash music's magic to help counteract pervasive prejudices around immigration and race. American Patchwork Quartet consists of an eleventh-generation classical Hindustani musician, a drumming protégée of the late Ellis Marsalis, a first-call Issei jazz bassist, and a co-founder of Ranky Tanky, a Grammy-winning group inspired by the Gullah musical culture of the Carolina coast.
58 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Chad Lawson's Piano Calms It Down
You might know pianist, bandleader, composer and podcaster Chad Lawson for his interpretations of Chopin and Bach, or his jazzy reimagining of the Wizard of Oz, or his years leading The Chad Lawson trio. Maybe you've heard his compositions for the podcasts "Lore" and "Unobscured," or his solo piano albums.
58 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Mette Kirkegaard's 'Simple Matters' Isn't So Simple
Is there such a thing as “Nordic Americana?” Host John Floridis has discovered at least one example: the songwriting team of Danish singer, Mette Kirkegaard and legendary Montana songwriter, Kostas Lazarides. Their collaboration forms the backbone of Kirkegaard's most recent recording, “Simple Matters.”
58 minutes | May 19, 2021
Cyrille Aimée Sings Jazz 'With A Sniper's Precision'
"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
58 minutes | May 11, 2021
Ranky Tanky's Songs Are 'Soulful Honey To The Ears'
“A people blessed by God" is how Gullah speakers translate their Afro-English dialect's name. Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA are hotbeds of Gullah language, songs and stories, and the rich repertoire of the Charleston quintet Ranky Tanky doesn't disappoint: "ranky tanky" is Gullah for “get funky.” Singer Quiana Parler shares the band's origin story with John Floridis, and reflects on their 2020 Grammy win for Best Regional Roots Album. From playful game songs to ecstatic shouts, from heartbreaking spirituals to delicate lullabies, the musical roots of Charleston are “rank” and fertile ground from which these contemporary musicians have grown. South Carolina natives Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, and Clay Ross first came together in 1998, fresh out of university, to form a seminal Charleston jazz quartet. Now, united by years apart and a deeper understanding of home, they've reunited and have joined with one of the lowcountry’s most celebrated vocalists, Quiana Parler, to revive a musical tradition born in their own backyards.
58 minutes | May 4, 2021
Sharon Isbin Is A 'Master Colorist' Of The Classical Guitar
Sharon Isbin, "the Monet of the classical guitar," returns to Musician’s Spotlight to talk technique, collaboration and guitar diplomacy with host John Floridis. Isbin's accomplishments involve big numbers: she has recorded more than 30 albums, premiered 80 new works by composers like John Corigliano, Joseph Schwantner and Lukas Foss, performed as a soloist with over 200 orchestras around the world, appeared on numerous television and radio programs, hit #2 on Billboard, and won dozens of prestigious honors and awards. Isbin earned her degrees from Yale and studied with Andrès Segovia, Oscar Ghiglia, and noted Bach scholar and keyboardist, Rosalyn Tureck. She's the director of the guitar department at the Aspen Music Festival, and since 1989, at the Juilliard School, making her the first and only guitar instructor in Julliard's history. A few of the many guitarists Isbin has collaborated with from outside the classical world: Stanley Jordan, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Steve Van, and Larry Coryell.
58 minutes | May 3, 2021
Josh Farmer Fashions Music Out Of Life's Hand-me-Downs
Missoula's Josh Farmer is a whirlwind of joyous musical creativity whose roles include but are not limited to: pianist, bandleader, performing singer-songwriter, teacher, choir director and community music organizer. With the album Mental Picture, Josh can add "solo recording artist." Here's how The Josh Farmer band describe themselves: "With a message of unity, equality and love for a creative community, their exciting, one-of-a-kind, live performances are known to incite vibes of happiness and freedom. Let go through joyful dance and sing along while Josh and his band do what they enjoy most!"
58 minutes | Apr 14, 2021
Hilary Hahn's Violin Evokes The City Of Light
She's won three Grammies, recorded twenty feature albums, commissioned a Pulitzer Prize-winning concerto, been featured on an Oscar-nominated soundtrack, performed in yoga studios and knitting circles, played for the pope...and visited Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
58 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Lake Street Dive Transmutes Audience Energy Into Music
Bassist and vocalist Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive joins host John Floridis in conversation from her basement studio in Brooklyn, New York on Halloween Eve, 2020. From their start in Boston in 2004 as a mashup of country, swing-era jazz and classic pop, Lake Street Dive has slowly made its way into the foreground of musical consciousness around the U.S. and beyond. The group took a big step with their slowed-down and funky-grooved cover of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”, the video of which became a YouTube hit with over six and a half million views.
58 minutes | Feb 25, 2021
Jayme Stone's 'AWake' Synthesizes Kaleidoscopic Art Out Of Grief
Self-described "instigator" Jayme Stone returns to Musician’s Spotlight to talk about AWake, a recording that "sings from a white-hot core of love and loss." It's accompanied by a lush, immersive website containing a virtual listening post, a visual art project and choreographic interpretations of the songs. Even accounting for the diverse range of Stone's previous collaborations, the sound palette and emotional landscape of "AWake" is a departure. Recalling the LP liner notes he would pore over as a child, Stone says: "I would just sit in front of the record player and listen and leaf through the notes and be immersed in photographs, ephemera and lyrics. I feel like we've lost that in the move to digital, and yet the Internet is an incredible way to share that stuff. We can have things moving and be immersive. I've always wanted to do something like this, and now felt like the opportune time to do it."
58 minutes | Feb 10, 2021
The 'Other John Roberts' Plays Trombone In A Billings Salsa Band
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."
58 minutes | Jan 26, 2021
Bettye LaVette Doesn't Sing A Song; She Wrestles It To The Ground
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.
58 minutes | Jan 6, 2021
Jonatha Brooke Adjusts Her Concerts To COVID Realities
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.
58 minutes | Dec 29, 2020
Storyhill Re-Imagines The Music Of Christmas
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. Cunningham and Hermanson are eighteen albums into a three-decade recording and performing career which began in 1989 with the release of the cassette tape Chris and Johnny - a production funded by their parents - and which continues today with 2020's Bethlehem, a mix of original and re-imagined Christmas songs.
58 minutes | Dec 28, 2020
Winter Holiday Songs In The 'Musician's Spotlight'
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.
58 minutes | Dec 16, 2020
Laila Biali's Virtual Stage Is Her Living Room - For Now
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.”
58 minutes | Dec 8, 2020
The Late Justin Townes Earle, Ellis Marsalis Honored In The 'Musician's Spotlight'
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.
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