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.

Tiny Desk Concerts
10:13 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Eliot Fisk And Paco Peña: Tiny Desk Concert

Paco Pena performs at the Tiny Desk in April 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 14, 2014 9:07 am

Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:55 pm
Sat April 19, 2014

Usman Riaz: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 6:54 pm

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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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:23 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Cate Le Bon: Tiny Desk Concert

Cate Le Bon performs a Tiny Desk Concert in January 2014.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 1:52 pm

The Beatles may be an odd place to begin a Cate Le Bon conversation, but I remember being struck by the way four guys from Liverpool could sing without their English accents. That's true of most pop singers, whose words often come out sounding more American than anything else. But that's not true with Cate Le Bon. Her phrasing is completely tied to her Welsh dialect — in fact, her first record was in Welsh.

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First Listen
9:50 am
Mon October 28, 2013

First Listen: Midlake, 'Antiphon'

Midlake's new album, Antiphon, comes out Nov. 5.
Sammy Reed Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 9:53 am

Midlake does grand the way Pink Floyd did. The Denton, Texas, band's members have big ideas and a sound that feels like a massive orchestra, with arrangements that build and unfold. All of this is done with more rock and less folk, yet still a timeless style. It reaches back while feeling present.

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World Music
2:41 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Oliver 'Tuku' Mtukudzi: Tiny Desk Concert

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi performs a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music in Washington, D.C.
Erica Yoon NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:08 pm

He seemed so casual — sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand — but when you hear that husky voice, you'll know why he's a legend. Oliver Mtukudzi, or "Tuku" as his fans lovingly call him, plays spirited music, born from the soul of Zimbabwe. He's been recording since the late 1970s, with about as many albums as his age: 60.

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All Songs Considered
4:27 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

The Best Concert-Finding Mobile Apps

Courtesy of BandMate

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 9:37 am

A few months ago, I reviewed a handful of new apps that show you which bands or artists are playing in your area. Some of those apps were hit-or-miss, and some have made some improvements since my initial review. This week All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton and I have pared the list of apps down to our two favorites. (You can hear us talk about it on the weekly series All Tech Considered.)

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All Songs Considered
7:52 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

First Watch: Femi Kuti, 'The World Is Changing'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 1:24 pm

"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."

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