Bob Boilen

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

Significant listener interest in the music being played on All Things Considered, along with his and NPR's vast music collections, gave Boilen the idea to start All Songs Considered. "It was obvious to me that listeners of NPR were also lovers of music, but what also became obvious by 1999 was that the web was going to be the place to discover new music and that we wanted to be the premiere site for music discovery." The show launched in 2000, with Boilen as its host.

Before coming to NPR, Boilen found many ways to share his passion for music. From 1982 to 1986 he worked for Baltimore's Impossible Theater, where he held many posts, including composer, technician, and recording engineer. Boilen became part of music history in 1983 with the Impossible Theater production Whiz Bang, a History of Sound. In it, Boilen became one of the first composers to use audio sampling — in this case, sounds from nature and the industrial revolution. He was interviewed about Whiz Bang by Susan Stamberg on All Things Considered.

In 1985, the Washington City Paper voted Boilen 'Performance Artist of the Year.' An electronic musician, he received a grant from the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities to work on electronic music and performance.

After Impossible Theater, Boilen worked as a producer for a television station in Washington, D.C. He produced several projects, including a music video show. In 1997, he started producing an online show called Science Live for the Discovery Channel. He also put out two albums with his psychedelic band, Tiny Desk Unit, during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Boilen still composes and performs music and posts it for free on his website BobBoilen.info. He performs contradance music and has a podcast of contradance music that he produces with his son Julian.

Longtime NPR fans may remember another contribution Boilen made to NPR. He composed the original theme music for NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:18 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Rubblebucket: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 1:03 pm

Before Rubblebucket played its Tiny Desk Concert, its members asked if they could bring a confetti cannon. And, though I said no — dear coworkers, I really do care about you — the band still brought a fun mix of brass and brash to the Tiny Desk.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:55 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Daniel Lanois: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

I came to know Daniel Lanois through his instrumental collaboration with Brian Eno, Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks, in 1983. I fell in love with Lanois' own music through his singing and the heartfelt, textured songs on albums like 1989's lovely Acadie (with its New Orleans flavor) and 1993's For The Beauty Of Wynona (with its haunting sounds and stories).

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:01 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Trey Anastasio: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 8:09 am

He came so humble, holding his acoustic guitar and wearing his heart on his sleeve. Trey Anastasio isn't new to NPR: Concerts of his have even included "All Things Reconsidered," a variation on the All Things Considered theme.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Lucinda Williams: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

She came to the Tiny Desk a little unsure, and left singing "West Memphis" with intensity and passion. Lucinda Williams has a voice like no other, and it shines in these intimate moments.

Williams is on a roll with a new double album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, which is filled with fresh and beautiful songs — all this from a songwriter known for working at a deliberate pace. Hearing her perform these new songs with her brilliant band was a rare and exciting treat.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:03 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 2:51 pm

In the summer of 1971, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for a bunch of 5- to 7-year-olds. For those eight weeks, I walked home with about $50. I bought a guitar and began to learn the songs I'd come to love from the recently released Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens.

"Father and Son" touched me most — it's a song about growing old, and about beliefs and conviction. More than 40 years later, that songwriter is performing at my desk with his son standing right behind me. You can never imagine the turns life will take.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat December 6, 2014

St. Paul And The Broken Bones: Tiny Desk Concert

James Clark NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:07 pm

Close your eyes and listen, and you might imagine someone who looks a bit like Otis Redding. Open them, and you're likely to see someone who looks more like your neighborhood bank teller.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:41 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Sam Amidon & Bill Frisell: Tiny Desk Concert

Bill Frisell (left), Sam Amidon and Shahzad Ismaily perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 16, 2014.
Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:08 pm

Sam Amidon takes traditional music and makes it his own. He might begin with a traditional murder ballad and then morph it into something of his own, fueled by Bill Frisell's languidly atmospheric guitar, Shahzad Ismaily's minimal but essential percussion and Amidon's own yearning voice. At other times, Amidon weaves his own new tunes into worn, weary, seemingly ageless sagas.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat November 22, 2014

J Mascis: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

The loudest guy in the world came to the Tiny Desk to perform some of his quietest music. Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, for years a guy who's turned my ears red, showed up armed with just an acoustic guitar. I even had an amp for that guitar all lined up, but he decided to not plug in.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:41 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Anthony D'Amato: Tiny Desk Concert

Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:44 pm

Anthony D'Amato sings and writes in the tradition of Bruce Springsteen or Josh Ritter: His songs sound friendly musically, but they also tackle the difficult and the twisted. Like those great songwriters, D'Amato's work is universal without devolving into moping. There's also a spirit to these songs, as it's easy to imagine a crowd spontaneously backing these his powerful choruses.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:34 am
Sat October 18, 2014

Ásgeir: Tiny Desk Concert

Susan Hale Thomas NPR

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:04 pm

When he was 20, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson released an album in Iceland, sung in Icelandic, with many of the words written by his father. Dýrð í dauðaþögn became the biggest-selling debut in Icelandic music history.

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