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.

Pages

All Songs Considered
3:25 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Vampire Weekend On New York, Souls Of Mischief And The Secrets Of Its New Album

Vampire Weekend in New York City: (from left) Chris Tomson, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij and Ezra Koenig.
Alex John Beck Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 3:22 pm

  • Listen: Bob Boilen Interviews Vampire Weekend

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Father Figures: Tiny Desk Concert

Father Figure performs a Tiny Desk Concert on February 6, 2013.
Lizzie Chen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:34 pm

In a small, packed Washington, D.C., living room late one December night, I heard a cacophony of horns, keys, drums and guitars that simply floored me. It was brash, zany, brainy, scary and danceable. At the end of a long year of amazing live music, this would turn out to be one of the most memorable concerts I'd seen.

Read more
All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Video: Music Meets Random Imagery In Yellowbirds' 'Young Men Of Promise'

Bernie DeChant

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 2:25 pm

Music videos are like funny math, where 1+1=3. That is, images have a meaning on their own, music has a meaning when you listen to it alone, but put images and music together and something new is born. 1+1=3. Try it randomly: put on a piece of music and watch a cartoon or an old movie ... people did it famously with The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:18 pm
Sat April 20, 2013

Interview: The Zombies Remember Their Odyssey

Bob Boilen, host of NPR Music's All Songs Considered, interviews Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of The Zombies at SXSW.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 1:29 pm

Read more
All Songs Considered
6:34 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

First Watch: People Get Ready, 'Middle Name'

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 9:10 am

It was probably the best performance piece I've seen in more than a decade. Specific Ocean, a piece by the dance troupe/rock band People Get Ready, which I saw at the New York Live Arts theater in the fall, was a model for the ways musicians can break from the standard, sometimes boring, format of playing on a stage. Some of the songs from Specific Ocean ended up on the group's 2012 self-titled album. Now there's a video, a documentation of that amazing New York performance, featuring the song "Middle Name."

Read more
All Songs Considered
4:03 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

First Watch: Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, 'We The Common'

This American Life's Ira Glass and John Hodgman in a video for Thao Nguyen's song "We The Common."

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 1:14 pm

I first met Thao Nguyen in 2008, in the earliest days of the Tiny Desk Concert series. I was a big fan of her witty, catchy songs. After she finished playing the Tiny Desk, Thao said something that has endeared me to her forever. Walking toward the elevators on her way out of NPR, she said, "That was intimate and awkward ... a lot like my last boyfriend!"

Read more
NPR Front Row
8:03 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Brainstorm: NPR Front Row

NPR

There was a "fire in the belly" feel when Brainstorm took the stage at TenOak in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music festival this past March. In its best moments, the trio from Portland, Ore., has an edge that embodies both African highlife guitar and the sounds of late-'70s post-punk a la Gang of Four.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
2:49 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Efterklang: Tiny Desk Concert

Gabriella Demczuk NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:36 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.

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:03 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Special Delivery: The Postal Service Story

Jimmy Tamborello and Ben Gibbard discuss the unexpected success of The Postal Service.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 12:41 pm

The Postal Service was a band for a generation — the soundtrack to romance, tears and friendship. More than a million people bought its first album, 2003's Give Up, then waited anxiously for a follow-up that never arrived.

Read more
NPR Front Row
1:09 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Ivan & Alyosha: NPR Front Row

Ivan & Alyosha win over new fans during a spirited performance at TenOak in Austin.
NPR

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 1:30 pm

Playing a free concert comes with risks. Sure, more people will show up, but they may care less about who's on stage than they do about catching up with friends; ironically, it often means the band has to work harder to win over the crowd. Seattle's Ivan & Alyosha did just that on the final night of the 2013 South by Southwest music festival, at a club called TenOak in Austin, Texas.

Read more
All Songs Considered
5:22 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

First Watch: Lord Huron, 'Lonesome Dreams'

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Sat April 6, 2013 6:44 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.

Read more
NPR Front Row
2:49 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Blaudzun: NPR Front Row

NPR Music

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 11:08 am

The Dutch band Blaudzun had its work cut out for it at the SXSW Music Festival, as it somehow wound up opening for a March 15 showcase of Turkish music. But Blaudzun's songs are so undeniably infectious that, by the time the band played "Elephants" — the song featured in this Front Row video — the folks at Austin, Texas' Cedar Street Courtyard were singing and dancing to music they'd never heard before.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:57 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 1:11 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.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:47 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

First Watch: Efterklang, "The Ghost"

Courtesy of Efterklang

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 2:13 pm

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

Read more
All Songs Considered
12:13 pm
Fri March 22, 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

Read more
All Songs Considered
3:36 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

Song Premiere: Paperhaus, "Helicopters"

Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 4:42 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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 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 6:37 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.

Read more
Tiny Desk Concerts
2:10 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 6:37 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.

Read more
All Songs Considered
1:03 am
Tue February 26, 2013

David Bowie's New Song Is...

Cover art for David Bowie's single, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 9:49 am

Read more
All Songs Considered
3:28 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

A Dance Video Inspired By An Encounter With An Oddball

Courtesy of the Artist

I first saw Cat Martino at the best concert of my life. It was the summer of 2011 and Sufjan Stevens was performing at Celebrate Brooklyn. But within the spectacle -– a troupe of maybe a dozen performers on stage — was a singer and dancer named Cat Martino. I know that because a number of my friends at the show knew Cat and were screaming her name at the top of their lungs.

Read more

Pages