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
12:28 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 12:48 pm

There's sweetness to Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear's music that makes me smile, and then there's so much more. I first saw the Kansas City mother-and-son duo perform last fall in Nashville's Blue Room, a small, perfect-sounding stage at Third Man Records. The bluesy roots of the music suited the space, and the sound — with young Madisen Ward's powerful, quivering voice backed by his mother Ruth — had a homespun feel.

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All Songs TV
7:03 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Christopher Paul Stelling, 'Hard Work'

Courtesy of the Artist

Christopher Paul Stelling is a brilliant fingerpicker with a message: "I know my work is never done, 'til I can see the good in everyone." That's the heart of his new song, "Hard Work," and the setting for this live, one-take performance couldn't be simpler: his tiny NYC kitchen. The song comes from his stirring album, Labor Against Waste, which is out on June 16.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:29 am
Wed April 29, 2015

José González: Tiny Desk Concert

Tiny Desk Concert with José González.
NPR

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:47 am

There's a quiet and a calm from José González that amplify his words. This has never been truer than on his new album, Vestiges & Claws. The songs are full of abstract imagery — more paintings than stories. He performed this song, "With The Ink of A Ghost," at my desk.

Idle as a wave
Moving out at sea
Cruising without sound
Molding what's to be
Serene between the trace
Serene with the tide and ink of a ghost

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat April 25, 2015

DakhaBrakha: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

People always ask me, "What's your favorite Tiny Desk Concert?" Well, right now it's the one recently performed by DakhaBrakha. The creative quartet from Kiev, Ukraine make music that sounds like nothing I've ever heard, with strands of everything I've ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy.

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All Songs TV
11:30 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Lauren Shera, 'Light and Dust'

Alysse Gafkjen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on

Written as a farewell to her home in California, Lauren Shera's "Light and Dust" introduces the new direction she took on her third studio album, Gold and Rust.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Punch Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

Spoiler alert: The Punch Brothers came to the Tiny Desk on Chris Thile's birthday. We made him a cake and gave him an NPR surprise! This wasn't the first time the brilliant mandolinist had brought a project to my desk, it was his fourth. The last time was with his longtime band Nickel Creek — and his new braces.

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

First Listen: Tom Brosseau, 'Perfect Abandon'

Tom Brosseau's new album, Perfect Abandon, comes out March 3.
Carey Braswell Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 1:17 pm

"They call me the hard luck boy," Tom Brosseau says at the top of his enchanting new album, later adding, "It all happened a very long time ago, when I was just a boy. My mother took me on what she called 'a little shopping trip' four or five states away, to a city she'd never been to before." In just that one song, in just four minutes, the North Dakota singer and storyteller tells a heartbreaking tale that hasn't left me since I first heard it.

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All Songs TV
6:03 am
Thu February 19, 2015

A Song For Chinese New Year: Stop And Hear The Red Flowers

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Amanda Kowalski Courtesy of the artist

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All Songs Considered
5:00 am
Thu February 12, 2015

The Tiny Desk Concert Contest Winner Is ...

Fantastic Negrito is the winner of the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
Brian Gibel Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:22 am

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:41 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

John Reilly & Friends: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 12:04 pm

It might be easy to dismiss a music project from actor John Reilly, but that would be a huge mistake: Reilly is a fine singer, especially when he gets a hold of old-time material, and his guitar work provides a perfect foundation for these church and porch tunes from America's past.

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