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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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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

  • Patrick Watson Live From The 9:30 Club

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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All Songs Considered
4:45 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Song Premiere: Red Baraat, 'Shruggy Ji'

Courtesy Of The Artist

I just saw Red Baraat play their new song, Shruggy Ji, at a brand new club in Washington, D.C. I don't think the incessant go-go rhythm fell on any deaf ears here in the birthplace of go-go. It certainly didn't for me, just blocks away from the record store where I worked, and where we'd blast go-go bands like Trouble Funk and Chuck Brown, back in the late '70s. For the Brooklyn nine-piece, this sound isn't a sharp right turn. Their mix of music already goes from Indian bhangra, (itself a mix of Punjabi music and western music) to New Orleans big band music.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:56 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Spirit Family Reunion: Tiny Desk Concert

Spirit Family Reunion performs at Tiny Desk concert on Sept. 18.
Ryan Smith NPR

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:20 am

Spirit Family Reunion was my favorite find at this year's Newport Folk Festival. The group makes music I'd call "new old-timey," but which its members call "open-door gospel" — gospel music that's not tied to any particular religious denomination.

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All Songs Considered Blog
5:01 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

'Big Easy Express': Three Bands, One Train, A Ton Of Music

Bryan Ling

Originally published on Thu June 28, 2012 7:25 am

Attention fans of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show: You are bound for glory! Big Easy Express is a new film featuring all three bands and their whistle-stop journey from Oakland to New Orleans aboard a vintage train.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Daniel Johnston: Tiny Desk Concert

Claire O'Neill NPR

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 9:47 am

Daniel Johnston is a troubled soul with a talent for writing honest, disarmingly direct songs. Kurt Cobain famously wore a T-shirt with the title of a Johnston cassette on it, while Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips ranks among his many musical admirers. M.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:00 am
Thu May 17, 2012

Arborea: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 am

I discovered Arborea amid a sea of 1,300 songs that I heard in preparation for South by Southwest. The music stood out for its calm beauty, its rough edges, and the duo's ability to speak eloquently of life's precious moments, about the sea, and about wonder.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
11:52 am
Mon May 14, 2012

Pedro Soler And Gaspar Claus: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 12:32 pm

Music can be a beautiful conversation — rarely is that more evident than in this Tiny Desk Concert performance with the father-son duo of Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus. Soler plays a delicate, intimate version of flamenco guitar, while his son turns the cello into an exquisitely expressive voice. Though 45 years separate them, pay attention to how they communicate. Music as a living language, and an invisible emotional exchange, is clearly apparent in these improvisational compositions.

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