NPR: 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 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.


Thu February 12, 2015
All Songs Considered

The Tiny Desk Concert Contest Winner Is ...

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 11:22 am

Fantastic Negrito is the winner of the first-ever Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
Brian Gibel Courtesy of the artist

Today we're thrilled to announce that the winner of the Tiny Desk Concert Contest is Fantastic Negrito.

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Wed July 23, 2014

Jenny Lewis Stands Out With 'Voyager'

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:56 am

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Tue June 14, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Hear A Song From Neil Young's 'Artistically Uncharacteristic' Period

A Treasure, a previously unreleased live album from Neil Young.
Courtesy of the artist

In 1984, Neil Young was sued by his record company, Geffen Records, for making albums it deemed "artistically uncharacteristic."

Fed up, Neil Young gathered a band of amazing Nashville musicians he called The International Harvesters, and hit the road. Recordings from those dates have been uncovered with five unreleased Neil Young tunes. The album is more traditional country than anything he'd done before.

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Mon June 13, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Hear Patti Smith And Her 'Words Of Love' For Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly.
Popperfoto Popperfoto/Getty Images

On June 28, Rave On Buddy Holly, a 19-song tribute to one of America's most enduring and significant recording artists, comes out. (You'll be able to preview the entire album in our First Listen series starting June 20.) Having spent some time with the record — as well as time with past tributes to Holly — this one has the best and most original takes on his classic songs.

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Mon June 6, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Survey: Your Music And The Cloud

Apple's iCloud

If you've followed tech news in recent months, chances are you've heard about the "cloud," a virtual storage space in the sky for your digital documents and, more recently, your music library. Now, with cloud based computing, you can access your data anywhere with an Internet connection, on your phone, tablet or computer. Amazon and Google have already announced their versions of a music "cloud" service and today Apple entered the field with its own version.

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Sun June 5, 2011
First Listen

First Listen: BOBBY, 'BOBBY'

BOBBY's self-titled debut is out June 21.
Courtesy of the artist

Quiet but not ambient, the music of BOBBY provides relief from rock and dance records built around insistent, thumping beats. The band's songs often feel like many songs in one, with multiple rhythms playing out simultaneously, and I like the result more and more.

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Sat May 28, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

'Minutes' From Sasquatch: Friday And Saturday Videos

Jessica McLeod, center, dances along to Mariachi El Bronx with her friends, who came to Sasquatch from Victoria, BC in a caravan of fifteen cars.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

For a bit of flavor, here are my 'minutes' from Sasquatch: 60-second video clips of some of the the many, many bands I've seen at the festival so far. I will post new videos as I shoot them, so keep checking back or follow us on Twitter @allsongs.

Of course, our main coverage of Sasquatch is here — click through for full concerts, photographs and much more. Enjoy!

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Sat May 28, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Sasquatch 2011: Behind The Scenes

The Gorge amphitheater outside Seattle has to be one of Earth's most beautiful spots, and it's the backdrop to a long weekend of amazing music. You'll find our coverage of Sasquatch 2011 here. NPR Music has a tent at the foot of the big stage known as Sasquatch — naturally, there are other stages, dubbed Yeti and Bigfoot.

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Mon May 23, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Jackie Evancho: Tiny Desk Concert

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

This is an excerpt of Jackie Evancho's Tiny Desk Concert. Stay tuned for a longer version of the video, pending rights approvals.

I simply couldn't believe my eyes and ears. Seeing Jackie Evancho sing for the first time is nearly beyond belief. You've seen 10-year-olds, and you've heard beyond-beautiful singers. But rarely are they the same person — that is, until now.

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Sun May 22, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Lady Gaga, Girl Talk Music Performed By Lightning

The Telsa Orchestra

Imagine big bolts of lightening pitched to make music. Imagine those staticy zapping sound in old Sci-Fi films that brought Frankenstein to life, now playing the melody to "Poker Face."

And if you're imagination needs a little help watch this creation from The Tesla Orchestra.

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Wed May 18, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Remember SXSW? Bob Has More Videos

Auditorium Shores in Austin, Texas.
Shantel Mitchell NPR Music

I shot 67 one-minute videos of every band I saw at this year's SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Saturday, March 19 was the final day, and though it took me nearly two months to finish this project, here it is: The end of my collection of 2011 SXSW videos. You can see the others here.

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Sun May 15, 2011
First Listen

First Listen: King Creosote And Jon Hopkins, 'Diamond Mine'

Jon Hopkins (left) and King Creosote collaborate on the new album Diamond Mine, out May 24.
Courtesy of the artists

If the year ended right now, I'd know my favorite record of 2011. Out May 24, Diamond Mine does what audio does best: It takes me far from the here-and-now.

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Fri May 13, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

First Watch: Amanda Shires Animated Hopes And Heartaches

Amanda Shires
Joshua Black Wilkins Shore Fire Media

When we were heading to SXSW this year, NPR Music critic Ann Powers told us to watch out for Amanda Shires' "plainspoken poeticism." You can hear that on her new album called Carrying Lightning. Amanda Shires is a talented songwriter, singer and fiddler. Here's a video premiere for the track "Ghostbird," a song she so badly wanted animated.


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Wed May 11, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Neil Innes: Tiny Desk Concert

Michael Katzif NPR

Neil Innes may play guitar and sing, but you come for his wit, not his guitar chops. You may know Innes as a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, or from the psychedelic jazz and art rock crazies The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Or maybe you thought The Rutles had a keen place in British rock invasion history only to learn (spoiler alert) that they're only satirists dressed in Piccadilly parody.

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Fri May 6, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Our Listening Party's Hit Song

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 9:45 am

NPR Music's first listening party, live at the Gibson Room in Washington, D.C.
Michael Katzif NPR

Thursday night at the Gibson Showroom in Washington, D.C., we threw a listening party. Maybe you were one of the 100 or so people who packed the room. We played music, mostly unreleased tunes. Everyone used score cards to rate the music on a scale of 1 to 10, and then we talked.

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Mon May 2, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Booker T. Jones: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Wed February 8, 2012 12:01 pm

Erin Schwartz NPR

I'm pretty sure this is the coolest thing we've ever done behind the Tiny Desk. There was a bit of furniture-moving and finagling, but when all the heavy lifting was done, there it was: A Hammond B3 organ and its sturdy wooden Leslie speaker cabinet sat waiting for its star performer, Booker T. Jones.

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Fri April 15, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Why Vinyl Isn't Really Coming Back

I spent the 1970s working in record stores as a clerk, a manager and a buyer of those weird, hard-to-get imports like Nick Drake. I also ran a record warehouse.

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Wed April 13, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Otis Taylor: Tiny Desk Concert

Erin Schwartz NPR

I'd never think that a banjo player could find my musical sweet spot, which falls somewhere between Mali and The Velvet Underground, but Otis Taylor hits it, spot on. Taylor's music is trance-inducing, and he achieves that effect by playing songs that are modal: Sometimes, they sit on one chord for the entire song.

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Tue April 12, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Download My Morning Jacket's New 'Circuital' And Five Live Songs

Today, we unveil the title cut from the upcoming My Morning Jacket album, Circuital. The full-length record comes out May 31 (you'll be able to preview it in our First Listen series starting May 23).

We asked singer Jim James about the new record. He wrote back:

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Tue March 29, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

Why Put Your Music In The Cloud? announced a new service today that will let you store your music on their servers so that you can access it anywhere. Well, sort of. Android users have an application for their portable devices. iPhone users don't. Also, there's a 5 GB limit before Amazon charges you for extra storage. My collection — and I know I'm not the average user — would cost about $200 a year to store in Amazon's cloud-based media server.

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Sun March 27, 2011
All Songs Considered Blog

8-Bit Dark Side Of The Moon Remake

It never fails to astonish me what people do with their time. I love the dedication that went into remaking Pink Floyd's masterpiece using a Nintendo sound chip. Brad Smith is a musician and computer scientist working in the gaming industry.

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