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 TV
12:34 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Lauren Shera, 'Light and Dust'

Alysse Gafkjen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on

Written as a farewell to her home in California, Lauren Shera's "Light and Dust" introduces the new direction she took on her third studio album, Gold and Rust.

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All Songs TV
9:51 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Genevieve, 'Colors'

Genevieve.
Courtesy of the artist

What a killer song. In fact, of all the tunes the All Songs Considered crew inspected before we headed down to Austin for SXSW, "Colors," the debut single by Genevieve, was the team favorite.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
3:03 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Punch Brothers: Tiny Desk Concert

Carlos Waters NPR

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
10:27 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Fantastic Negrito: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:21 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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All Songs TV
3:19 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Boots, 'Motorcycle Jesus'

Boots
Courtesy of the Artist

BOOTS is the project of musician Jordan Asher. You may have heard his work in collaboration with Beyoncé on her self-titled 2013 album. Now he has his own project, this 30 minute self-directed film built around five of his songs. That project, and an accompanying soundtrack EP by BOOTS, is called Motorcycle Jesus.

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All Songs TV
11:17 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Eskmo, 'Mind Of War'

Spencer Hansen Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:57 pm

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All Songs Considered
10:22 am
Tue March 3, 2015

TV On The Radio, Stromae & Courtney Barnett To Play NPR Music's SXSW Showcase

Clockwise from upper left: Shamir, TV On The Radio, Boogie, Courtney Barnett, Stromae
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 3:32 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:40 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Phox: Tiny Desk Concert

Morgan McCloy NPR

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 TV
2:42 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Pokey LaFarge, 'Something In The Water'

Pokey LaFarge
Joshua Black Wilkins Courtesy of the Artist

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All Songs TV
2:59 pm
Thu February 26, 2015

People Get Ready, 'Rainbow'

People Get Ready
Courtesy of the Artist

It's rare to be a choreographer with a rock band, or a rock band with a choreographer, but that's much of what makes People Get Ready unique. Steven Reker is a graceful dancer who sometimes straps his guitar around his waist and spins while the neck of the guitar hammers the floor, blurting bits of feedback and drone.

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All Songs Considered
3:14 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

Jimmy Page Reflects On 40 Years Of Led Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti'

Jimmy Page is remastering and reissuing all of the Led Zeppelin albums, along with previously unreleased recordings.
Ross Halfin Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:32 pm

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All Songs Considered
1:12 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

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
2:39 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Zola Jesus: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

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 Considered
12:26 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

10 Tiny Desk Contest Entries We Also Loved

DeQn Sue was one of the many, many Tiny Desk contestants who won our team over.
YouTube

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

First Listen: Tom Brosseau, 'Perfect Abandon'

Tom Brosseau's new album, Perfect Abandon, comes out March 3.
Carey Braswell Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 2:17 pm

"They call me the hard luck boy," Tom Brosseau says at the top of his enchanting new album, later adding, "It all happened a very long time ago, when I was just a boy. My mother took me on what she called 'a little shopping trip' four or five states away, to a city she'd never been to before." In just that one song, in just four minutes, the North Dakota singer and storyteller tells a heartbreaking tale that hasn't left me since I first heard it.

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All Songs TV
7:03 am
Thu February 19, 2015

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

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Amanda Kowalski Courtesy of the artist

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:35 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Until The Ribbon Breaks: Tiny Desk Concert

Colin Marshall NPR

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 12:36 pm

The beauty of the Tiny Desk lies, at least partially, in the limitations of size and technology. We rarely amplify voices, for example, so for a band like Until The Ribbon Breaks, the challenge becomes how to take a loud electronic sound down to a volume where singer Pete Lawrie-Winfield can be heard. In this case, the solution involved a spaghetti strainer, a paint bucket and an acoustic guitar.

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All Songs TV
9:08 am
Thu February 12, 2015

SOAK, 'Sea Creatures'

SOAK
Joshua Hillard Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:06 am

SOAK is the music of eighteen-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson from Derry, Ireland. I love the simplicity in her music and puzzling out the images in this song, "Sea Creatures." At one moment I think it's a love song, with lines like:

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All Songs Considered
6:00 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 11:22 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
7:03 am
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 10:27 am

I'll be online at reddit.com/r/music 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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