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
11:15 am
Fri April 12, 2013

First Watch: Iron And Wine, 'Joy'

Craig Kief Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 12:11 pm

"Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness."

That's a key line in this song, "Joy," by Iron and Wine, the project of Sam Beam. Sam is a songwriter who has a way of making the personal very universal. It's also the line that piqued the interest of director Hayley Morris, who made a video for "Joy." Morris writes to us:

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NPR Front Row
1:49 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Blaudzun: NPR Front Row

NPR Music

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:33 pm

The Dutch band Blaudzun had its work cut out for it at the SXSW Music Festival, as it somehow wound up opening for a March 15 showcase of Turkish music. But Blaudzun's songs are so undeniably infectious that, by the time the band played "Elephants" — the song featured in this Front Row video — the folks at Austin, Texas' Cedar Street Courtyard were singing and dancing to music they'd never heard before.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:03 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill: Tiny Desk Concert

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 25, 2013.
Gabriella Demczuk NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

You're about to watch one of the best fiddlers on the planet and a subtle guitar master work their magic. For too many of us, Irish music is something that merely gets trotted out around this time of year, associated with St. Patrick's Day and the coming of spring — and made a cliche by commercialism and whatever other shallow notions make cliches what they are.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:10 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Lone Bellow: Tiny Desk Concert

The Lone Bellow performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 20, 2013.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

After hearing The Lone Bellow's self-titled debut, I couldn't wait to play it for friends and on All Songs Considered — I knew people would love it. Still, honestly, I was unprepared for the stunning power of the band's live show. When you see this Tiny Desk Concert, I'm sure you'll experience the same sensation I did. The Lone Bellow features three brilliant players, with Zach Williams singing every word as if it's the last time he'll ever get the chance.

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All Songs Considered
8:02 am
Thu January 3, 2013

First Watch: Angel Olsen's 'Tiniest Seed' In 16mm

Angel Olsen from the film 'Tiniest Seed'
Pitch Perfect PR

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 6:36 pm

"A transatlantic collaboration between four friends. Two songs were written and recorded in Chicago and then sent to Vienna. There they were translated into a film score."

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Wed December 19, 2012

You'll Know This Band In 2013: The Lone Bellow

The Lone Bellow
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 9:13 am

The world of acoustic music is about to get a new household name. The music of The Lone Bellow is born from tragedy and told with heart and simplicity. Zach Williams, a singer and songwriter for this Brooklyn-based group, is originally from Georgia, and his words began to flow following his wife's catastrophic horse riding accident that nearly left her paralyzed. Listen to The Lone Bellows' song "Two Sides of Lonely," from the band's forthcoming self-titled album.

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All Songs Considered
8:30 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Song Premiere: Erin McKeown, 'The Jailer'

Erin McKeown
Merri Cyr Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 2:14 pm

Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."

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Live in Concert
8:03 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Patrick Watson In Concert

Patrick Watson performs live in concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
Mito Habe-Evans

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 10:10 am

One of my favorite performers, Patrick Watson is dramatic but understated; deadly serious but unexpectedly candid and funny. And the music feels so warm, with melodies that haunt and enchant. The singer-pianist and his band put out a new record in 2012, Adventures in Your Own Backyard, and it's one of my favorites of the year.

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All Songs Considered
7:24 am
Thu November 15, 2012

First Watch: Night Beds, 'Even If We Try'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:01 pm

This is a languid gem of a song paired with very disturbing video. The music, "Even If We Try," is by Night Beds, the project of Winston Yellen. Yellen is a Colorado Springs musician now making his home in Nashville. In fact the songs on the debut album from Night Beds, Country Sleep, were written and partially recorded in Tennessee at the former Sycamore Homestead in Tennessee of Johnny Cash.

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All Songs Considered
5:05 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

First Watch: Ben Sollee, 'A Few Honest Words'

Ben Sollee
Magnus Lindqvist Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 1:12 pm

Ben Sollee is not only an unconventional cellist, but also an unconventional human being. Recently, he took his cello, walked up the long steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the mall in D.C. (along with the Mason Jar Music film crew) and began to perform. It's not legal to do that, but like I said, Ben Sollee — the guy who bikes his cello across the country — is not a follower. The following video captures the moments in the shadow of Lincoln amid a throng of tourists.

From Ben Sollee:

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