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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Best Music Of 2012
3:14 pm
Wed January 2, 2013

Bob Boilen's 243 Favorite Concerts Of 2012

INTERACTIVE: BOB BOILEN'S WRISTBANDS 2012 - Wristbands, ticket stubs and badges from a few of the hundreds of shows Bob Boilen saw in 2012.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Sat January 5, 2013 9:43 am

What a brilliant year for live music 2012 was. And I saw an awful lot of it: 462 performances, by my count. I know that sounds insane — more concerts than days in a year. Many of those were full concerts, but sometimes at music festivals I'd run from club to club or stage to stage just to catch a song or two. It's all part of a quest to find new music and hear new talent. Even a short taste helps me know whether I need to pay attention to a burgeoning band or whether a classic act seems to give a damn anymore.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed December 19, 2012

You'll Know This Band In 2013: The Lone Bellow

The Lone Bellow
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 10:13 am

The world of acoustic music is about to get a new household name. The music of The Lone Bellow is born from tragedy and told with heart and simplicity. Zach Williams, a singer and songwriter for this Brooklyn-based group, is originally from Georgia, and his words began to flow following his wife's catastrophic horse riding accident that nearly left her paralyzed. Listen to The Lone Bellows' song "Two Sides of Lonely," from the band's forthcoming self-titled album.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:16 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Alt-J: Tiny Desk Concert

Alt-J Tiny Desk Performance NPR 2012
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 6:47 pm

There's mystery in the music of Alt-J: The band's songs are wrapped in enigmatic textures, with swift shifts in arrangements inside every song and an oddness to the drums. Mere glimpses of lyrics are discernible, even after listening over and over — and if you can decipher the words, the meanings don't necessarily follow immediately. Still, those words reside at the core of Alt-J, and they're cinematic and stunning and sometimes brutal.

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Best Music Of 2012
1:15 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Bob Boilen's Top 10 Albums Of 2012

Britain's Alt-J was this year's Mercury Prize winner, for the band's debut album An Awesome Wave. The group is also Bob Boilen's pick for Album Of The Year.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 10:58 am

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All Songs Considered
3:48 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

First Watch: Mercury Prize Winners Villagers Are Back

Villagers
Rich Gilligan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:39 pm

Villagers is the music of Conor O'Brien, a 2010 Mercury Prize finalist for his debut album, Becoming a Jackal. Now there's new music from Villagers, from a record called {Awayland}. That music comes out first in Europe on Jan. 14 — here in the U.S., we'll have to wait until April 9. We have this new song and video from Villagers, for the song "Nothing Arrived."

Conor O'Brien writes:

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All Songs Considered
9:47 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Question Of The Week: Should The Rolling Stones Hang It Up?

The Rolling Stones perform at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 8.
Don Emmert AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 8:25 pm

After seeing The Rolling Stones in concert over the weekend, I can confidently say the short answer is "no."

We need to be thinking about age and rock music in a different way. When I was in my 20s, my generation thought 30 was too old for a rocker. Now, in 2012, the brilliant futurist Ray Kurzweil is wondering who the first person to be 150 will be. He told a crowd at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C., that he thinks that person is alive today.

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All Songs Considered
2:42 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Song Premiere: Kishi Bashi, 'It's Christmas, But It's Not White Here In Our Town'

Courtesy of the artist

Kishi Bashi, my favorite new artist of the year, now has a holiday song. It's such a great way to bring us back around to a musician I first discovered while sifting through 1,300 songs for the South by Southwest music festival back at the beginning of the year. We all ended up falling in love with his music.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Taken By Trees: Tiny Desk Concert

Taken by Trees performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Oct. 12, 2012.
Lauren Rock NPR

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 4:19 pm

The power of Taken by Trees lies in understatement. Victoria Bergsman sings almost as if she doesn't care — but that contrast to almost every other singer I know is what makes me hear her words, and grants me space to think about her emotions. It's almost as if she etches the lines of a song and leaves listeners to fill in the rest.

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All Songs Considered
2:19 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Question Of The Week: When Should You Start Playing Holiday Music?

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 4:39 pm

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