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 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
3:36 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

DakhaBrakha: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 8:03 am

People always ask me, "What's your favorite Tiny Desk Concert?" Well, right now it's the one recently performed by DakhaBrakha. The creative quartet from Kiev, Ukraine make music that sounds like nothing I've ever heard, with strands of everything I've ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:14 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Punch Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 2:03 pm

Spoiler alert: The Punch Brothers came to the Tiny Desk on Chris Thile's birthday. We made him a cake and gave him an NPR surprise! This wasn't the first time the brilliant mandolinist had brought a project to my desk, it was his fourth. The last time was with his longtime band Nickel Creek — and his new braces.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:50 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Fantastic Negrito: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:21 am

It says a lot that, with almost 7,000 entries to choose from, we selected Fantastic Negrito as the winner of our Tiny Desk Concert Contest. For his winning submission, he performed "Lost In A Crowd" in a freight elevator in Oakland. It was his passion, his voice and his backing band that landed him an invitation to perform behind my desk. We're proud of our choice.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:15 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Phox: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 1:40 pm

I first saw Phox in an impromptu concert at a restaurant in Philadelphia. I thought the band was talented and charming, and I still do. Phox is six friends from Baraboo, Wis., who make pretty, catchy music. The group's not-so-secret weapon is Monica Martin, who sings with a smoky lilt in front of spare, tasteful instrumentation.

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All Songs Considered
5:58 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

New Mix: Lord Huron, Metz, Patrick Watson, More

Top row, left to right: Sóley, Patrick Watson; Middle row: Metz, Summer Cannibals; bottom: Lord Huron
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 12:12 pm

It may be freezing on the east coast, but on All Songs Considered this week, we've got the hottest tracks to keep you out of the cold.

At the top, North Dakota songwriter Tom Brosseau tells a heartbreaking story about a boy abandoned by his mother. Patrick Watson returns with a vast and beautiful sound that explores the distinction between humanity and technology.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Zola Jesus: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 1:39 pm

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 TV
1:10 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

A Song For Chinese New Year: Stop And Hear The Red Flowers

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Amanda Kowalski Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 6:03 am

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All Songs Considered
5:00 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 10:22 am

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

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All Songs Considered
2:48 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Ask Me (Bob Boilen) Anything

Caller, you're on air ... uh, the Internet.
Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 9:27 am

I'll be online at on Wednesday, February 11, 1 to 2 p.m. EST, answering your questions on this post. I'm a little scared because you can actually ask me anything. It will be kind of like a Tiny Desk Concert (intimate, awkward) but I'm sure we'll have fun.

In case you need a little background information about me:

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All Songs Considered
4:00 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

New Mix: Dan Deacon, THEESatisfaction, Jackson Scott, More

Clockwise from upper left: Dan Deacon, Tanya Tagaq, THEESatisfaction, Jackson Scott
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 9:15 am

This week on All Songs Considered: Our favorite electronic artist, Dan Deacon, is back with another playfully infectious dance party, one he recorded both in the studio and in bathrooms and greenrooms during his most recent tour. Also, NPR Music contributor Katie Presley joins us with a hypnotic groove from the Seattle-based duo THEESatisfaction and a slow-burning jam from New Orleans singer-songwriter Kristin Diable.

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