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.

Pages

Tiny Desk Concerts
2:48 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Pixies: Tiny Desk Concert

John W. Poole John W. Poole

The windowsills were lined with people standing, as every nook between every office desk filled to capacity with NPR employees and their assorted guests. Pixies, after getting misplaced for a time in our parking garage during a moment worthy of This Is Spinal Tap, showed up in time to encounter the largest crowd we've ever assembled for a Tiny Desk Concert. (Our new office space allows for more guests than the old one did, but it's still a mark of this band's significance for so many youthful grownups.)

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
3:02 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Angel Olsen: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 9:40 am

Angel Olsen came to the Tiny Desk on an odd autumn day, as an impending storm loomed outside our office windows. It all seemed just right for occasion: Watch her and you'll see calm in her eyes; listen to her and you'll sense torment in her heart. Olsen gave us a preview of her third record on that October day; she wouldn't tell us the title, but she did say the word "Burn" with a hint of the title in the words to a song she'd sing.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tiny Desk Concert

Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at the Tiny Desk on Dec. 3, 2013.
John W. Poole John W. Poole

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 5:14 pm

Our goal for this special holiday Tiny Desk Concert is simple: to bring you joy. Preservation Hall Jazz Band is a hot and historic outfit from New Orleans, and its members brought us a tuba-wielding Santa and some original holiday cheer and praise — what they call a Cajun Christmas from the French Quarter.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat December 14, 2013

Christine Salem: Tiny Desk Concert

Christine Salem performs a Tiny Desk Concert on October 14, 2013.
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:19 pm

Her voice feels old, but it's got power that's young and vibrant. In fact, Christine Salem sings songs that are old: They're work songs and chants from the maloya tradition on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean. I first heard her in New York City as she shook a flat board called a kayamb, made of cane reeds, with two percussionists flanking her to provide rhythm.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
5:27 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Waxahatchee: Tiny Desk Concert

Waxahatchee performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:28 pm

This might be as intimate as hearing Katie Crutchfield sing in her basement. That's where she and her sister would play guitar, write and sing songs 10 years ago, when she was 14. Katie and Allison Crutchfield had a band back in Birmingham together, The Ackleys; these days, Katie performs as Waxahatchee, while Allison's band is called Swearin'.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
4:08 pm
Tue November 12, 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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
2:05 pm
Mon October 28, 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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
10:13 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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Valerie June: Tiny Desk Concert

Valerie June performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:06 pm

Short of seeing her live and in person, this is the best way to encounter Valerie June's heartfelt sound. Her new album Pushin' Against a Stone is terrific, but when I first heard that voice unadorned, I was hooked. The same may happen to you.

Read more

Pages