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
2:16 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

The Family Crest: Tiny Desk Concert

The Family Crest performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

There's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band. Based in San Francisco and led by Liam McCormick, The Family Crest builds its songs from a combination of infectious enthusiasm and powerful talent. The group owes its huge sound not just to its seven members, but to the community that records and plays with them. Eighty people are credited on The Family Crest's first album, Beneath the Brine.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:51 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Saintseneca: Tiny Desk Concert

Saintseneca performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Olivia Merrion NPR

Originally published on

One of the many instruments you may hear Saintseneca play — beyond the banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, bass and bouzouki — is a stomp box. Basically, it's a roughly 2'x2' plywood floorboard meant for pounding the beat. At a show just before this Tiny Desk Concert, craftily bearded singer Zac Little put his boot right through that floorboard.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:15 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Highasakite: Tiny Desk Concert

Highasakite performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Olivia Merrion NPR

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 3:37 pm

My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:39 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Hamilton Leithauser: Tiny Desk Concert

Hamilton Leithauser performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Olivia Merrion NPR

This is the second time Hamilton Leithauser has graced the Tiny Desk. Two summers ago, he and his band The Walkmen played a powerful set of songs from their final album for now, Heaven.

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All Songs TV
11:14 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Benjamin Booker, 'Have You Seen My Son?'

YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:36 pm

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All Songs TV
10:05 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Tiny Ruins, 'Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens'

Tiny Ruins, 'Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:37 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:02 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Holly Williams: Tiny Desk Concert

Holly Williams performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
NPR

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 2:56 pm

Truth be told, Holly Williams brought me and many of my hardened colleagues to tears. The singer-songwriter has a magnificent way with words and phrasing, not to mention a country-music lineage that fills her with pride and guides her poignancy and subject matter.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sun July 13, 2014

John Grant: Tiny Desk Concert

John Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Alex Schelldorf NPR

John Grant's songs don't mess around: The music isn't complicated, while the lyrics function as darts of retort and thought. His album Pale Green Ghosts is decorated with synthesizers, his voice often drenched in reverb; those tools and textures help make the record strong and everlasting.

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All Songs TV
2:03 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Pattern Is Movement, 'Suckling'

Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward are Philadelphia's Pattern Is Movement.
Peter English Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 2:38 pm

The latest video from Pattern Is Movement is up close and personal, featuring the best music this Philadelphia duo has made in 14 years of recording together. Watch Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward perform "Suckling," with just drums, keyboards and voice. The cut is from the band's self-titled album, released earlier this year on Hometapes.

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All Songs TV
8:03 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler, 'Range On Castle'

Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler, 'Range On Castle'
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 2:18 pm

Bad acting meets good music in this collaboration between former Pixies bassist Kim Deal and Morgan Nagler, aka Whispertown. The new video for their single, "Range On Castle," includes classic footage from the 1963 Roger Corman film The Terror, starring Boris Karloff and a very young Jack Nicholson.

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