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
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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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:50 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Nathan Salsburg: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 3:26 pm

Here's what's surprising about guitarist Nathan Salsburg: He writes passionate instrumental tales about racehorses and turns them into accessibly eclectic tunes. With a brilliant debut album (Affirmed) full of intricate and melodic fingerpicking, Salsburg is likely to become one of those names we all associate with American folk guitar.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Cowboy Junkies: Tiny Desk Concert

Doriane Raiman NPR

Originally published on Tue May 15, 2012 9:18 am

Make a list of bands with integrity, still highly respected and still making music after 25 years, and that list will have Cowboy Junkies near the top. More active than ever, the group has released four new studio records in the past two years — an insane achievement. A prolific nature doesn't define greatness, of course, but these past few years have produced some of the best music Cowboy Junkies' members have ever made.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:56 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Jolie Holland: Tiny Desk Concert

Mallory Benedict NPR

It'll take just a few seconds to find out if you're likely to fall in love with Jolie Holland. That's what happened to me about eight years ago: Holland was a founding member of The Be Good Tanyas, and I've been listening faithfully to the Texas-born, Brooklyn-based singer ever since.

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All Songs Considered Blog
5:12 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

First Watch: Kat Edmonson, 'I Don't Know'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 8:46 am

Kat Edmonson has been on our radar for a while now. In 2009, after the election of President Barack Obama, we put out a call out to our listeners to try and capture the pulse of the culture.

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