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
9:12 am
Wed February 5, 2014

First Watch: Deleted Scenes, 'Stutter'

Dustin Diamond plays a struggling actor in the new video for the Deleted Scenes song, "Stutter."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 12:28 pm

The sound of Deleted Scenes, a D.C.-based quartet formed in 2005, is potent, angular and distinct. The lyrics of Dan Scheuerman, who sings and plays guitar, can be simultaneously poetic and direct. The best part of Deleted Scenes is the unexpected, the unpredictable, and "Stutter" is a perfect example of their hard-to-label style. It mixes grating vocals with sporadic bursts of guitar, those abrasive sounds morphing into a likable, memorable track.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:02 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Pixies: Tiny Desk Concert

John W. Poole John W. Poole

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 12:48 pm

The windowsills were lined with people standing, as every nook between every office desk filled to capacity with NPR employees and their assorted guests. Pixies, after getting misplaced for a time in our parking garage during a moment worthy of This Is Spinal Tap, showed up in time to encounter the largest crowd we've ever assembled for a Tiny Desk Concert. (Our new office space allows for more guests than the old one did, but it's still a mark of this band's significance for so many youthful grownups.)

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First Listen
9:02 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

First Listen: Quilt, 'Held In Splendor'

Quilt's second album, Held In Splendor, comes out Jan. 28.
Allison Pharmakis Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 8:02 pm

Quilt is the perfect name for this band, whose every song seems to seamlessly knit together at least three distinct tunes. There's a sense of adventure, shifting perspectives and surprise in these pop treasures, each of which feels like a long jam distilled to its essence.

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First Listen
8:59 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

First Listen: Gem Club, 'In Roses'

Gem Club's In Roses comes out Jan. 28.
Tonje Thilesen Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 8:00 pm

Roses are beautiful and alluring, but they're often seen in the saddest of settings: hospitals, funerals. The music of Gem Club is a bit like that, mixing beauty and melancholy. One makes you appreciate the other, so it's a dynamic that works perfectly on the band's second album, appropriately titled In Roses.

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All Songs Considered
3:05 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Bob Boilen's 116 Favorite Concerts Of 2013

Ally Newbold Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:07 am

I didn't watch any TV shows in 2013. I only saw one movie that I can remember. But I saw over 662 shows in 2013, 549 bands in 139 clubs in 21 cities. It was a perfect year.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Bob Boilen's Favorite Lyrics Of 2013

Piper Ferguson Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 10:32 am

I'm a lyrics guy. Great words drive me to a song. Bad lyrics drive me away. As a lyrics guy, I find that my favorite songs often also have my favorite words. I love a good melody and a beat, but I love it more when those elements support a good story, an insight, an emotional outpouring, something I can connect to.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:27 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Waxahatchee: Tiny Desk Concert

Waxahatchee performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 12:28 pm

This might be as intimate as hearing Katie Crutchfield sing in her basement. That's where she and her sister would play guitar, write and sing songs 10 years ago, when she was 14. Katie and Allison Crutchfield had a band back in Birmingham together, The Ackleys; these days, Katie performs as Waxahatchee, while Allison's band is called Swearin'.

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All Songs Considered
10:13 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Pixies, 'What Goes Boom'

World premiere video for a brand new Pixies song, "What Goes Boom."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:13 pm

It's been several months since longtime Pixies bassist Kim Deal left the band, and the remaining members are still figuring out how to play together. But the group's new sound seems to coalesce on its latest single and video, "What Goes Boom."

"Since the reunion, there are sounds that I've been coming up with," guitarist Joey Santiago tells us via email. "And a lot of them just got condensed into this one song, with me going sh*thouse on guitar."

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Live in Concert
9:18 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Bill Callahan, Live In Concert

Bill Callahan, performing live at the Sixth And I Synagogue in Washington, D.C.
Gabriella Garcia-Pardo NPR Music

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 7:25 am

This was a perfect night. The setting: A magnificently refurbished synagogue from the turn of the 20th century, with a stunning domed ceiling, menorah's flanking the sides of the stage. Add to it a minimal band of guitar, bass, drums and the beautiful, if deadpan, baritone of singer and guitarist Bill Callahan.

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All Songs Considered
10:23 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Butch Walker, 'Coming Home'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:58 am

"I really wanted to stay away from anything too literal in favor of something bigger, more fantastical and ethereal." And with that concept, director Olivier Agostini completely drew me into a sweet story while turning me on to Butch Walker's new video for the song "Coming Home."

Butch Walker was a guitarist in a glam metal band (SouthGang), a singer and guitarist with Marvelous 3, and later-turned-producer for Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, and Pink. Go figure. He's also been making his own songs, and his latest is "Coming Home" from the EP Peachtree Battle.

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