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
2:29 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

First Watch: Iron & Wine, 'Joy'

Craig Kief Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 12:11 pm

"Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness."

That's a key line in this song, "Joy," by Iron and Wine, the project of Sam Beam. Sam is a songwriter who has a way of making the personal very universal. It's also the line that piqued the interest of director Hayley Morris, who made a video for "Joy." Morris writes to us:

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Tiny Desk Concerts
9:04 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Efterklang: Tiny Desk Concert

Gabriella Demczuk NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:36 pm

Bands with big ideas work well at the Tiny Desk. Efterklang is a Danish group whose recent album Piramida took its members to an abandoned mining town between the North Pole and Norway. There, they recorded sounds of empty oil tanks, old pianos and pretty much anything they could strike or record.

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All Songs Considered
9:13 am
Sat April 6, 2013

First Watch: Lord Huron, 'Lonesome Dreams'

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Sat April 6, 2013 5:44 pm

Think of Lord Huron as an imaginary world as much as a rock band. Bandleader Ben Schneider has created characters and stories that fit together within an entire narrative filled with mystique. It's a bit dreamlike. To get an idea of how many layers there are in Schneider's invention, look at this website for author George Ranger Johnson. According to the site, George Ranger Johnson lives in Tuscon, Ariz. and writes adventure novels whose titles are identical to the song titles of the band Lord Huron.

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All Songs Considered
8:05 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

How To Never Miss Another Concert

Don't miss Merchandise in your town ever again.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 12:11 pm

I love live music. But figuring out who's coming to town and when and where isn't so easy. I could go to every club's website to compile a list of upcoming shows, but that'd be cumbersome. Newspaper listing are often incomplete, don't look ahead and certainly don't filter or highlight who's in town based on my musical tastes.

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All Songs Considered
12:01 am
Mon April 1, 2013

First Watch: Efterklang, "The Ghost"

Courtesy of Efterklang

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 1:13 pm

"The video has a puzzle structure: the whole story progressively makes sense to the viewer as minutes go by."

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All Songs Considered
4:03 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

New Sigur Rós, New Direction? Watch The Video For 'Brennisteinn'

Lygia Clark's cover art for Sigur Rós' forthcoming album, Kveikur.
Lygia Clark Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:13 am

This is the most exciting new Sigur Rós song I've heard in a long time, and I love the band's music. "Brennisteinn" (sulfur) is a remarkably aggressive piece of music for musicians who can sound so ethereal: Dreamy elements remain, but they provide an underpinning rather than driving the pulse of the song.

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All Songs Considered
12:19 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Song Premiere: Paperhaus, 'Helicopters'

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 3:42 pm

The musicians in Paperhaus live in my hometown of Washington, D.C., so I've seen this dynamic band more than a few times. In fact, they put on some of the best house concerts in the city, over a hundred of them at their own venue, also called the Paperhaus, so I've seen them both in clubs and their intimate living room.

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All Songs Considered
6:13 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Bob Boilen's 15 Essential Moments From SXSW 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 12:20 pm

Unlike any other festival, South by Southwest is unique to everyone who attends. And I love that about this festival. With over 2,200 bands spread out over 100 venues and five days of music, everyone sees something different and walks away with different joys and discoveries. You could go to a Brooklyn Vegan showcase and spend the whole day in one place. You could search out only Latino bands, or metal bands, hip hop or blues. In fact, when the All Songs crew gathers to record our late night dispatches on the streets of Austin, Texas, we all share completely different joys.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:34 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill: Tiny Desk Concert

Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 25, 2013.
Gabriella Demczuk NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

You're about to watch one of the best fiddlers on the planet and a subtle guitar master work their magic. For too many of us, Irish music is something that merely gets trotted out around this time of year, associated with St. Patrick's Day and the coming of spring — and made a cliche by commercialism and whatever other shallow notions make cliches what they are.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
5:01 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

The Lone Bellow: Tiny Desk Concert

The Lone Bellow performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 20, 2013.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:37 pm

After hearing The Lone Bellow's self-titled debut, I couldn't wait to play it for friends and on All Songs Considered — I knew people would love it. Still, honestly, I was unprepared for the stunning power of the band's live show. When you see this Tiny Desk Concert, I'm sure you'll experience the same sensation I did. The Lone Bellow features three brilliant players, with Zach Williams singing every word as if it's the last time he'll ever get the chance.

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