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.

Calling All Musicians
12:40 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Introducing Our Tiny Desk Concert Contest

Introducing our Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
NPR

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 10:30 am

Want to play a Tiny Desk Concert? Now's your chance: NPR Music and Lagunitas are holding a contest, and the winner gets to perform at my desk here at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Music
4:45 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Jenny Lewis Stands Out With 'Voyager'

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:56 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tiny Desk Concerts
2:36 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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All Songs Considered
2:04 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Song Premiere: Robert Plant's Bold New Band

Robert Plant and his new band The Sensational Space Shifters.
Frank Melfi Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 12:09 pm

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All Songs Considered
12:48 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Hear A Song From 'Fuego,' The First New Phish Album In 5 Years

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 12:55 pm

It's been almost five years since Phish had a new album of songs. Today, we're happy to announce that Fuego, the band's twelfth studio album, will be out on June 24. That's the album cover above. The album's ten songs were premiered live by the band on Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City, N.J.

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Tiny Desk
10:31 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Quilt: Tiny Desk Concert

Quilt performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:00 am

It's right there in the band's name, but the music of Quilt is truly a tapestry. Its songs are made of small bits of verses and choruses that, heard individually, may not seem to fit. But in the hands and voices of this band, they stitch together beautifully. Interweaving harmonies and guitar lines from Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler set the tone for these tunes — soft and benevolent, dreamy and quivering, with poetry that's thoughtful and playful. The opening song at this Tiny Desk Concert, "Arctic Shark," questions and enchants.

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All Songs Considered
2:52 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

NPR Music Nominated For Three Webby Awards

OK Go helped us us move our office across town. You can help us win a Webby for the video we shot.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Fri April 11, 2014 2:27 pm

NPR Music has been nominated for many Webby Awards over the years (and even won a few), but we've rarely reached out and asked you to vote for us when we are. This year, the Webbys' eighteenth, we're particularly proud of our nominations.

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Tiny Desk
2:36 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

The Both: Tiny Desk Concert

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo perform together as The Both at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 9:50 am

Singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are often at opposite ends of the volume knob. But what started as separate sets during a mutual tour, then a few walk-ons during Leo's solo set, is now an adventure in collaboration and mutual songwriting — and the birth of The Both. Months after this Tiny Desk Concert, which we recorded in February, there's an album.

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Tiny Desk Concert
8:31 am
Tue April 1, 2014

The Haden Triplets: Tiny Desk Concert

The Haden Triplets perform a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 3:42 pm

Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden are three sisters in love with the art of singing. Born in 1971 to a famous musical father (Charlie Haden is a world-class upright jazz bassist), they've separately taken on vastly different music projects. You may have heard Petra with The Decemberists or tackling the music of The Who a cappella. Tanya plays in Let's Go Sailing, while Rachel sometimes turns up with The Rentals and other projects.

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All Songs Considered
1:41 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Neil Young Wants You To Truly Hear Music

Neil Young in conversation with NPR's Bob Boilen.
A.J. Wilhelm for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 11:47 am

Neil Young wants you to truly hear the music you listen to. Over the years, the trend in audio has prioritized convenience over quality. Last week at SXSW, I had a conversation with Neil Young about an idea he has to change that trend. In this interview, he talks about Pono, the new audio player he's been helping develop. Just before the interview, I spent time listening to Pono. It's impressive.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:34 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Lowland Hum: Tiny Desk Concert

Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 2:03 pm

It's hard to convey the sound of two people in love, but Lowland Hum does that effortlessly. Daniel Levi Goans and Lauren Plank are now Daniel and Lauren Goans; they met a few years ago and spent much of their first married year on the road, singing together on small stages and at house concerts across the country. Daniel was a folksinger in North Carolina, while Lauren had aspirations to sing but mostly did it privately. She has a passion for making things with paper, and you'll see that in the little black book of lyrics she hands out at shows.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:04 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Asaf Avidan: Tiny Desk Concert

Asaf Avidan performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:36 am

So I'm driving down the road when I hear this incredible voice coming out of my car speakers — part Janis Joplin, part Nina Simone — and I wonder, "Who is she?"

That day, I'd ripped a number of CDs onto my phone and didn't remember which record this was. Upon a quick glance at my phone during a traffic light, I discover the name Asaf Avidan. Next traffic light, I look it up and I see a picture of a skinny, handsome white male. I figure that's a mistake — that I must have typed the wrong name — so I wait to get home.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:18 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Debashish Bhattacharya: Tiny Desk Concert

Debashish Bhattacharya performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Chloe Coleman Chloe Coleman/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:29 pm

You've probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love — a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 — and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:40 am
Fri November 1, 2013

San Fermin: Tiny Desk Concert

San Fermin performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2013.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:55 pm

San Fermin's music bursts with ambition, talent and extreme joy. Its self-titled debut is charged with great storytelling and amazing vocals by both Allen Tate and Lucius singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Then there are the arrangements: little gems that turn these songs into cinematic vignettes using trumpet, sax, keyboard, violin, guitar and drums.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:12 am
Sat October 26, 2013

Typhoon: Tiny Desk Concert

Typhoon performs a Tiny Desk Concert in October 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:57 pm

The appropriately named Typhoon is a sprawling band with an epic sound. The group from Portland, Ore. crafts rock anthems like emotional tidal waves, propelled by the stories of frontman Kyle Morton. His deeply personal tales are often full of grief and loss. But just as often they celebrate and praise life's simple wonders. Morton himself is a very grateful (and lucky) man who writes songs as if he were living on borrowed time.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:23 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Okkervil River: Tiny Desk Concert

Okkervil River performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:05 pm

At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely — especially to its lyrics — and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.

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