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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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:50 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Okkervil River: Tiny Desk Concert

Okkervil River performs a Tiny Desk Concert in September 2013.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:05 pm

At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely — especially to its lyrics — and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Valerie June: Tiny Desk Concert

Valerie June performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:06 pm

Short of seeing her live and in person, this is the best way to encounter Valerie June's heartfelt sound. Her new album Pushin' Against a Stone is terrific, but when I first heard that voice unadorned, I was hooked. The same may happen to you.

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All Songs Considered
2:23 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Linda Thompson, 'It Won't Be Long Now'

Video for Linda Thompson's "It Won't Be Long Now."
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:53 am

After five decades of singing, Linda Thompson is still one of the best voices in folk music. Her tone is alluring, sometimes mournful, and always passionate. Her story is unlike anyone else's, beginning in England during the 1960s, and continuing with her marriage to Richard Thompson, when she recorded my favorite British folk albums ever, including 1975's Pour Down Like Silver.

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Concerts
8:07 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Volcano Choir, Live In Concert

NPR

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 11:00 am

A lot of people come to the music of Volcano Choir - and see concerts like this one - because of the band's lead singer, Justin Vernon, an artist better-known for his work as Bon Iver. But Volcano Choir isn't a Bon Iver side project. It's a completely separate creative force, and the group's songs sound like no one else's.

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All Songs Considered
8:01 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Volcano Choir Reveals Secret Behind Epic Live Show

Cameron Wittig Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 9:43 am

  • Hear Volcano Choir Talk About The Band's Live Performances

Volcano Choir got its start in 2005 when Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and members of the band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees decided to make mysterious, multi-layered, adventurous music together. Their first album, 2009's Unmap, was dreamy, frequently abstract, and simply gorgeous.

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