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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SXSW: Live From Austin
11:41 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Sinkane: NPR Front Row

Sinkane performs at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
NPR

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 10:36 am

There's a saunter to the music of Sinkane that feels breezy and a bit mysterious, like it's just a build-up to a hypnotic frenzy. That vibe is on display in this song, "Jeeper Creeper," performed on a perfect Thursday night at Clive Bar's Filter magazine-sponsored show during SXSW 2013 in Austin, Texas.

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SXSW: Live From Austin
8:03 am
Thu March 21, 2013

Telekinesis: NPR Front Row

Telekinesis performs songs from its new album at SXSW in Austin, Texas.
NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:12 am

You don't often see drums set up right near the lip of a stage, but not every band has a drummer as its focal point. Michael Benjamin Lerner formed Telekinesis by himself, and he plays most of the instruments on his records. But live at The Parish during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Lerner had a talented band that included Rebecca Cole from Wild Flag on keyboards, Erik Walters from The Globes on guitar and Eric Elbogen from Say Hi on bass.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

There's another new song from David Bowie and it's called "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)." This is the second Bowie song in the past few months after a dry spell that lasted ten years. You can hear the song and watch the video, which contains some nudity.

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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.

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All Songs Considered
11:24 am
Wed February 20, 2013

NPR Music Presents: Josh Ritter Live From New York City

Josh Ritter.
Courtesy of the aritst

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 9:24 pm

NPR Music will present and webcast a "First Listen Live" concert from Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band on Monday, March 4, beginning at 8 p.m. ET in the intimate New York City venue (Le) Poisson Rouge. Josh Ritter and his band will play most of his new album, The Beast in Its Tracks.

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First Listen
5:57 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

First Listen: Deathfix, 'Deathfix'

Deathfix's self-titled debut album comes out on Feb. 26.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 7:09 pm

Audio for this feature is no longer available.

At a show one night in Washington, D.C., Brendan Canty — a legendary and active local drummer, Fugazi alumnus, filmmaker and music fan — handed me a home-burned CD. The disc was just silver, with no writing or markings on it and music by his new band Deathfix, in which he performs with his friend and former Bob Mould bandmate and producer, Rich Morel.

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All Songs Considered
5:29 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

The Real Instrument Behind The Sound In 'Good Vibrations'

Cover art for the "Good Vibrations" single, released in 1966.
Courtesy of the artist
  • Hear how 'Good Vibrations' was created

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