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
12:28 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Volcano Choir Reveals Secret Behind Epic Live Show

Cameron Wittig Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 9:43 am

  • Hear Volcano Choir Talk About The Band's Live Performances

Volcano Choir got its start in 2005 when Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and members of the band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees decided to make mysterious, multi-layered, adventurous music together. Their first album, 2009's Unmap, was dreamy, frequently abstract, and simply gorgeous.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:08 pm
Sat October 12, 2013

Superchunk: Tiny Desk Concert

Superchunk performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 30, 2013.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:06 pm

It's remarkable to think that Superchunk's career has spanned four decades. The North Carolina band got its start in 1989, and here it is in 2013, with a new record called I Hate Music that demonstrates an undying passion for punk-fueled story songs with catchy phrasing.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:36 pm
Thu October 3, 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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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:04 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Hem: Tiny Desk Concert

Hem performs a Tiny Desk Concert in June 2013.
Chloe Coleman NPR

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

Hem is one of All Songs Considered's earliest discoveries. Back in 2002, we received a beautiful and unique album called Rabbit Songs. It was a homey, fireside kind of record, with a sound that could be called country or Americana, and the arrangements by Dan Messé made it feel quaint and warm. To top it off, there was singer Sally Ellyson, an untrained natural talent with an effortless yet breathtaking voice.

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All Songs Considered
12:02 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Thurston Moore And Doug Aitken Talk Art, Music And 'Station To Station'

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore gazes over the rail on the Station to Station train as it speeds across the country.
Mara McKevitt

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 11:41 am

  • Hear Thurston Moore And Doug Aitken Discuss 'Station To Station'

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All Songs Considered
10:00 am
Tue September 17, 2013

New Mix: Beck, Best Coast, Joanna Gruesome, More

Clockwise from upper left: Beck, Cate Le Bon, Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos, Best Coast
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 6:05 pm

On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share a brand new song from Beck. The new cut, called "Gimme," is the third single he's released since June and by far the strangest (i.e., best) of the bunch. None of the songs will be on the new full-length record Beck hopes to release before the end of the year.

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All Songs Considered
7:41 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Dave Grohl And Krist Novoselic Share Memories, Unreleased Tracks From 'In Utero'

Nirvana in 1993 (from left): Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl.
Anton Corbijn

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 2:53 pm

  • Hear Dave Grohl And Krist Novoselic On 'In Utero'

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All Songs Considered
1:55 pm
Sun September 8, 2013

All Aboard A Magical Mystery Train

One of the nine restored train cars that are part of the Station to Station public art project. This car is called Lambert's Point Executive Lounge
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 11:24 am

What happens when you fill nine train cars with noisemaking musicians Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Japan's The Boredoms, LA's fuzzed-out Ariel Pink and more?

I'm about to find out.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:57 pm
Sat September 7, 2013

Bombino: Tiny Desk Concert

Bombino performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 19, 2013.
Erica Yoon NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:12 pm

There's something alluring and charming about Bombino, whose childlike face belies his fierce, hypnotic guitar playing. The first time I saw him perform, I found myself screaming his name at the end of every song — partly to praise his amazing jams, but also as an exercise in bonding. It felt as if I were yelling out to a buddy on stage, even though I'd never met him. I just felt a connection; his sound is that personable and familiar.

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All Songs Considered
5:43 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Dancing Vegetables, Singing Ground Beef: TMBG's Old-School Video

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 12:45 pm

They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh and John Linnell have just delivered an old-school video — think "early days of MTV" — and it's a pleasure to see. Over the course of 16 albums, the two Johns (first as a duo and later as bandleaders) have always kept humor at the core of their sound and general attitude. They continue the tradition with "You're On Fire," the first single from their 25-song, 45-minute album Nanobots.

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