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
3:41 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 4:08 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
1:29 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Jackson Browne: Tiny Desk Concert

James Clark NPR

Originally published on Tue October 7, 2014 8:47 am

My admiration for Jackson Browne began with his first album in 1971. I was wowed by the fact that the singer-songwriter had worked with Nico of Velvet Underground fame — his girlfriend at the time — on her first album, Chelsea Girl. He wrote one of my favorite songs on that record, "These Days."

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First Listen
10:03 pm
Sun September 14, 2014

First Listen: GOAT, 'Commune'

GOAT's new album, Commune, comes out Sept. 23 on Sub Pop and Rocket Recordings.
Tammy Karlsson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 9:36 am

If someone said that the band GOAT took its name from the initials for "Get Out A Tambourine," it'd be easy to believe. The Swedish collective makes irresistible trance/dance music that doubles as hypnotic hippie hoodoo. GOAT captures the spirit of the '60s in its guitar meanderings and acid tones; its rhythms feel inspired by rave culture and electronic music, but are made with hands instead of machines. Oh, and the band members wear masks, hit cowbells, and sing in unison a lot.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Trampled By Turtles: Tiny Desk Concert

Tiny Desk Concert with Trampled by Turtles on July 16, 2014.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

What immediately attracted me to Trampled by Turtles when I first saw the band was its speed, but the Minnesotans are about more than just blistering bluegrass. They also write beautiful, heartfelt folk-pop songs, as this Tiny Desk Concert demonstrates.

All three of these tunes come from Trampled By Turtles' new eighth album, Wild Animals. Watching the band gathered around one mic seemed perfectly right.

Set List

  • "Come Back Home"
  • "Winners"
  • "Lucy"

Credits

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat August 23, 2014

Rodrigo Amarante: Tiny Desk Concert

Rodrigo Amarante performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

Rodrigo Amarante has made the year's tenderest record. Cavalo is sonically rich and spare at the same time: Every instrument breathes and every sound blends, yet every moment is distinct. At Cavalo's core are heartfelt songs and Amarante's sweet, smoky voice.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Eliot Fisk And Paco Peña: Tiny Desk Concert

Paco Pena performs at the Tiny Desk in April 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 9:07 am

Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat June 7, 2014

Marian McLaughlin: Tiny Desk Concert

Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 2:29 pm

Marian McLaughlin is a unique musician based in the Washington/Baltimore area, and because she's lived in D.C., I've had a chance to watch her grow. She's an artist on her own path, making music like few others.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:28 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Hozier: Tiny Desk Concert

Hozier performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Alex Schelldorf/NPR NPR

Originally published on Mon September 1, 2014 3:53 pm

Andrew Hozier-Byrne's voice is so rich, so vital and so soulful, I'm certain I'll follow his music for a long time to come. The 24-year-old Irishman, who performs under the name Hozier, opens this set with the brilliant and instantly grabby song "Take Me to Church," about passion, sex and religion.

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