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
6:10 pm
Sat May 17, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 10, 2014

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. as part of the birthday celebration for Big Tony of Trouble Funk.
Kyle Gustafson Washington Post/Getty images

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 10:55 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:41 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Public Service Broadcasting: Tiny Desk Concert

Public Service Broadcasting performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in March 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 8:34 pm

These guys don't speak or sing a word, but each song sends a clear message. Public Service Broadcasting is a duo featuring the nerdy J. Willgoose, Esq. on guitar, banjo and electronics and Wrigglesworth on drums. The source material for the music is British public-service films from roughly the 1940s through the 1960s.

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All Songs Considered
11:29 am
Sat May 3, 2014

Bob's Rainbows: May 3, 2014

Future Islands at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC.
Photo by Zac Visco for NPR NPR

Originally published on Sat May 3, 2014 9:02 am

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All Songs Considered
12:54 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Young Fathers at U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 9:11 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:50 pm
Sat April 26, 2014

Quilt: Tiny Desk Concert

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

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:00 am

It's right there in the band's name, but the music of Quilt is truly a tapestry. Its songs are made of small bits of verses and choruses that, heard individually, may not seem to fit. But in the hands and voices of this band, they stitch together beautifully. Interweaving harmonies and guitar lines from Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler set the tone for these tunes — soft and benevolent, dreamy and quivering, with poetry that's thoughtful and playful. The opening song at this Tiny Desk Concert, "Arctic Shark," questions and enchants.

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All Songs Considered
7:19 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

You sent us your soles!
Various for NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 10:14 am

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All Songs TV
7:12 pm
Mon April 21, 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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All Songs Considered
3:29 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Photos Needed: We Want Your Sole

We Want Your Sole!
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat April 19, 2014 9:34 am

Our new puzzler "Sole Of A Band" mixes music with fashion by asking you to match music with a picture of an artist's shoes. I started the puzzler because I noticed that so often I could tell something about the music a person was playing by the shoes I saw them wearing.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:55 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Courtney Barnett: Tiny Desk Concert

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

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:01 am

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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All Songs Considered
2:56 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Kraftwerk at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. The band continues to break new ground in concert visuals.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 8:03 am

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