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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10:16am

Wed February 8, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Pokey LaFarge: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 8:12 am

Erin Schwartz NPR

The first time I saw Pokey LaFarge, he was walking around the grounds of the 2010 Newport Folk Festival wearing a suit and tie, with his hair slicked down. To tell the truth, I thought, "Who is this guy?

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9:57am

Fri February 3, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Bill Frisell: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 9:19 am

Mallory Benedict/NPR

It was early, maybe half an hour before Bill Frisell was set to arrive for his Tiny Desk Concert. Already, a crowd here at NPR was buzzing around, waiting to hear Frisell make his magic and watching him set up an array of pedals. I've never seen anyone play guitar the way Frisell plays: What I hear is a man on a mission of discovery, where one chord, one note, one effect can send him in unplanned, uncharted directions.

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9:57am

Thu January 26, 2012
Tiny Desk Concerts

Anna Calvi: Tiny Desk Concert

Cristina M. Fletes NPR

Anna Calvi is a brilliant guitar player, and if it stopped there, I'd still be captivated by her music. But Calvi's playing is only the underpinning of the superb songs she writes and sings — and that's saying nothing of her incredible voice.

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12:49pm

Tue December 20, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

The Music Tapes: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 9:03 am

Cristina Fletes/NPR

By Bob Boilen

Somewhere inside the body of Julian Koster — the Elephant 6 and Neutral Milk Hotel alumnus who once released an entire album of Christmas songs performed on a singing saw — lives a 13-year-old boy filled with wonder, imagination and a talent for spinning a good, quirky tale. Just in time for the holidays, and with the season in mind, Koster and his friends brought those wide-eyed songs and earnest spirit to the NPR Music offices for a joyful and strange Tiny Desk Concert performance.

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