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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
7:03 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 12:19 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.

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All Songs Considered
11:57 am
Fri November 15, 2013

First Watch: Marian McLaughlin, 'Before You Leave'

Courtesy of the artist

I've never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings. After catching her live a few years ago, I thought this could either be someone naively noodling or deliberately taking an adventure. I've come to the conclusion it's a bit of both. You can see and hear how McLaughlin pulls this off in a new video for her song "Before You Leave."

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:08 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 1:29 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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All Songs Considered
2:23 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Linda Thompson, 'It Won't Be Long Now'

Video for Linda Thompson's "It Won't Be Long Now."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:53 am

After five decades of singing, Linda Thompson is still one of the best voices in folk music. Her tone is alluring, sometimes mournful, and always passionate. Her story is unlike anyone else's, beginning in England during the 1960s, and continuing with her marriage to Richard Thompson, when she recorded my favorite British folk albums ever, including 1975's Pour Down Like Silver.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:00 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi: Tiny Desk Concert

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music in Washington, D.C.
Erica Yoon NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:08 pm

He seemed so casual — sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand — but when you hear that husky voice, you'll know why he's a legend. Oliver Mtukudzi, or "Tuku" as his fans lovingly call him, plays spirited music, born from the soul of Zimbabwe. He's been recording since the late 1970s, with about as many albums as his age: 60.

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All Songs Considered
7:01 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Song Premiere: The Civil Wars' 'Dust To Dust' Is An Ode To The End

John Paul White and Joy Williams are The Civil Wars
Allister Ann Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 8:38 am

Joy Williams and John Paul White are The Civil Wars, a duo of passionate performers. The first time I saw them perform there were such positive sparks flying between them, but these days they can barely speak to one another. The Civil Wars are about to release a new album — their second and probably their last for a while or perhaps forever ... we shall see.

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What's New?
8:50 am
Tue July 9, 2013

The Best Concert-Finding Mobile Apps

Courtesy of BandMate

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 9:37 am

A few months ago, I reviewed a handful of new apps that show you which bands or artists are playing in your area. Some of those apps were hit-or-miss, and some have made some improvements since my initial review. This week All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton and I have pared the list of apps down to our two favorites. (You can hear us talk about it on the weekly series All Tech Considered.)

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:42 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Skinny Lister: Tiny Desk Concert

Skinny Lister performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:23 pm

I wish I could say I first found Skinny Lister in a pub some late evening while folks were dancing on the tables. I trust that that happens, but my unforgettable experience with this kick-ass English folk-punk band was at a hotel lobby in midday, in the midst of a sober crowd in Austin, Texas.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:22 am
Sat July 6, 2013

Cheick Hamala Diabate: Tiny Desk Concert

Cheick Hamala Diabate performs a Tiny Desk Concert in the NPR Music offices.
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:23 pm

There was an awful lot of dancing going on the first time I stumbled upon the music of Cheick Hamala Diabate. On the dance floor at U Street's Tropicalia that night was a rich cross-section of D.C. life, all entranced by the music of Mali.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:20 am
Sat June 29, 2013

Maya Beiser: Tiny Desk Concert

Maya Beiser performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 9, 2013.
Marie McGrory NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:25 pm

Maya Beiser's Twitter handle — @CelloGoddess — says it all. She's a brilliant cellist with a stunning command of her instrument, and she's tightly tied to technology. Beiser takes the sound of her cello and runs it through loop pedals, effects and other electronics to make her instrument shimmer, drone and groove. Then there's her magnificent sense of melody.

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