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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7:22am

Sat April 19, 2014
Tiny Desk Concerts

Usman Riaz: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 5:54 pm

NPR

This is simply astonishing. Watch twenty seconds and you'll be sucked into the world of Usman Riaz, an immensely talented 23-year-old Pakistani musician who will change your perception of how a guitar can sound and be played. What's more remarkable is that this Berklee College of Music whiz kid learned much of his dazzling guitar technique by watching YouTube videos at 16. He also learned what he calls "parlor tricks," like body percussion and harmonica. But the classically trained pianist also used the Internet to learn how to write and conduct orchestra pieces and make films.

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12:03pm

Mon April 14, 2014
Tiny Desk Concerts

Courtney Barnett: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:01 am

Courtney Barnett performs a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Courtney Barnett can tell you a story like she's your best friend — provided your best friend is a funny poet with an Australian accent. Listen to "Avant Gardener," an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction. The tale that follows at this Tiny Desk Concert, "History Eraser," is a ramble in an alcohol-fueled dream state; it features some of the best lyric-writing in music today. Here's a sample from that song:

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12:03pm

Mon April 7, 2014
Tiny Desk Concerts

The Both: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 12:05 pm

Aimee Mann and Ted Leo perform together as The Both at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Singer-songwriters Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are often at opposite ends of the volume knob. But what started as separate sets during a mutual tour, then a few walk-ons during Leo's solo set, is now an adventure in collaboration and mutual songwriting — and the birth of The Both. Months after this Tiny Desk Concert, which we recorded in February, there's an album.

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1:42pm

Mon March 31, 2014
Tiny Desk Concerts

The Haden Triplets: Tiny Desk Concert

The Haden Triplets perform a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden are three sisters in love with the art of singing. Born in 1971 to a famous musical father (Charlie Haden is a world-class upright jazz bassist), they've separately taken on vastly different music projects. You may have heard Petra with The Decemberists or tackling the music of The Who a cappella. Tanya plays in Let's Go Sailing, while Rachel sometimes turns up with The Rentals and other projects.

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2:40pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Tiny Desk Concerts

Jake Bugg: Tiny Desk Concert

Jake Bugg performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in February 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

There was a haze over Jake Bugg when he arrived at the Tiny Desk. He was expressionless and quiet. That all changed when he strummed fast and fierce on his acoustic guitar and began a flow of words reminiscent of Greenwich Village in the '60s, not modern Clifton in England's East Midlands, where he grew up.

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