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 β€” 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
1:19 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

The Five Best Things About This Year's Mountain Oasis Festival

A crush of fans dance together at a Bassnectar performance, from the 2013 Mountain Oasis festival.
Adam Kissick NPR Music

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 12:07 pm

Late last month I witnessed the most creative music festival I know, and I'm back with some astonishing new music discoveries. The first annual Mountain Oasis festival took place in a number of venues in Asheville, N.C. the weekend before Halloween. Asheville's a city that, much like Austin, Texas or Portland, Ore., lives up to that often-used slogan "Keep (insert city name here) Weird." As music pours into the streets, you'll see people dressed up as gnomes in illuminated hats, traveling in packs along with jellyfish, various monsters or even giant butterflies.

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All Songs Considered
10:38 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Broken Bells Shares New Song, Accidentally Channels Bee Gees

Broken Bells β€” James Mercer (left) and Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) β€” are back with a new album. After The Disco is due out in January.
James Minchin

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 9:38 am

There's soon to be a new album from Broken Bells β€” the duo of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) β€” and you're about to find out how it all came together.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:49 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

San Fermin: Tiny Desk Concert

San Fermin performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2013.
Abbey Oldham NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:55 pm

San Fermin's music bursts with ambition, talent and extreme joy. Its self-titled debut is charged with great storytelling and amazing vocals by both Allen Tate and Lucius singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe. Then there are the arrangements: little gems that turn these songs into cinematic vignettes using trumpet, sax, keyboard, violin, guitar and drums.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:21 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Typhoon: Tiny Desk Concert

Typhoon performs a Tiny Desk Concert in October 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:57 pm

The appropriately named Typhoon is a sprawling band with an epic sound. The group from Portland, Ore. crafts rock anthems like emotional tidal waves, propelled by the stories of frontman Kyle Morton. His deeply personal tales are often full of grief and loss. But just as often they celebrate and praise life's simple wonders. Morton himself is a very grateful (and lucky) man who writes songs as if he were living on borrowed time.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:12 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Debashish Bhattacharya: Tiny Desk Concert

Debashish Bhattacharya performs at a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Chloe Coleman Chloe Coleman/NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:29 pm

You've probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love β€” a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 β€” and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:03 pm
Sat October 19, 2013

Okkervil River: Tiny Desk Concert

Okkervil River performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:05 pm

At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely β€” especially to its lyrics β€” and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:47 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Valerie June: Tiny Desk Concert

Valerie June performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
NPR

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

Short of seeing her live and in person, this is the best way to encounter Valerie June's heartfelt sound. Her new album Pushin' Against a Stone is terrific, but when I first heard that voice unadorned, I was hooked. The same may happen to you.

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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 β€” sitting on a bar stool behind the Tiny Desk, acoustic guitar in hand β€” 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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