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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All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Bob Dylan Covers A Classic Tune

Courtesy of the artist

A new Bob Dylan recording popped up on his site just now. You have to go there to hear it — it's a version of the classic 1945 song, "Full Moon and Empty Arms." The tune is written by Buddy Kaye — known for writing hits for Sinatra, Ella and Elvis — and Ted Mossman, and based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:42 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

The Haden Triplets: Tiny Desk Concert

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

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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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:03 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Lowland Hum: Tiny Desk Concert

Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

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
10:14 am
Sat February 8, 2014

Fanfare Ciocarlia: Tiny Desk Concert

Fanfare Ciocarlia performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in January 2014.
Jim Tuttle Jim Tuttle/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 9:13 am

Truth be told, I was scared. We've stuffed a lot of musicians behind the Tiny Desk, but when I saw Fanfare Ciocarlia (pronounced "fan-FAR-eh cho-car-LEE-ah") at Globalfest the week before the band arrived at NPR, I couldn't fathom how we'd corral these 12 musicians and their various assorted horns and drums into that truly tiny space.

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All Songs Considered
11:53 am
Thu February 6, 2014

The Civil Wars Cover Elliott Smith

John Paul White (left) and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars.
Allister Ann Courtesy of the artist

If you remembered that John Paul White and Joy Williams had announced they were taking a hiatus last year, the news of a new digital EP from The Civil Wars might make you scratch your head. But this cover of Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars," which lends its name to the EP, was actually recorded a while back with producers Rick Rubin and Charlie Peacock.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 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 4:14 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.

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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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