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
12:39 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Zola Jesus: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

With her huge voice and an assist from talented trombonist Daniel Walter Eaton, Zola Jesus presented a curious combination at the Tiny Desk — a combination I hardly ever encounter. Having seen her mostly with a big and powerful band, I wondered if this configuration would work. But it was magic, with the trombone poignantly complementing her mellifluous voice and stark personal words.

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All Songs Considered
10:26 am
Mon February 23, 2015

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.
YouTube

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:35 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Until The Ribbon Breaks: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 10:36 am

The beauty of the Tiny Desk lies, at least partially, in the limitations of size and technology. We rarely amplify voices, for example, so for a band like Until The Ribbon Breaks, the challenge becomes how to take a loud electronic sound down to a volume where singer Pete Lawrie-Winfield can be heard. In this case, the solution involved a spaghetti strainer, a paint bucket and an acoustic guitar.

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All Songs TV
7:08 am
Thu February 12, 2015

SOAK, 'Sea Creatures'

SOAK
Joshua Hillard Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 5:06 am

SOAK is the music of eighteen-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson from Derry, Ireland. I love the simplicity in her music and puzzling out the images in this song, "Sea Creatures." At one moment I think it's a love song, with lines like:

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All Songs Considered
4:00 am
Thu February 12, 2015

The Tiny Desk Concert Contest Winner Is ...

Fantastic Negrito is the winner of the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
Brian Gibel Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 9:22 am

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:03 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Mucca Pazza: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

When I first imagined Mucca Pazza at the Tiny Desk, I honestly had no idea how the Chicago band's 23 members would fit in — in the literal sense of the term. To load-test this performance, we actually gathered a gaggle of interns behind my desk and began to stack people on cabinets, step-stools and, of course, desks.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:41 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

John Reilly & Friends: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:04 am

It might be easy to dismiss a music project from actor John Reilly, but that would be a huge mistake: Reilly is a fine singer, especially when he gets a hold of old-time material, and his guitar work provides a perfect foundation for these church and porch tunes from America's past.

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All Songs Considered
11:18 am
Tue February 3, 2015

New Mix: Toro Y Moi, Courtney Barnett, Pops Staples, More

Clockwise from upper left: Courtney Barnett, Pops Staples, Toro Y Moi, Other Lives
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 5:51 am

This week on All Songs Considered, we start the show with new music Bob's been waiting for two years to hear: the great first single from Courtney Barnett's debut full-length album. Don't miss the video for "Pedestrian at Best" off her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

First Listen: Paperhaus, 'Paperhaus'

Paperhaus' new album, Paperhaus, comes out Feb. 10.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 12:19 pm

Paperhaus is my kind of guitar band, with power in the lyricism instead of just the chords. Its music can be jarring and jagged, but Paperhaus can also sound dreamy the way groups like Television could, with lilt and grit. These are long songs that take twists and turns of the variety you might find in a prog-rock band. But Paperhaus is more pop than prog, with excursions that serve the music rather than the musicians themselves.

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All Songs TV
8:17 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Courtney Barnett, 'Pedestrian At Best'

Leslie Kirchhoff Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 11:40 am

The visual: A clown past her prime. The words: "Put me on a pedestal and I'll only disappoint you."

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