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.


Field Recordings
11:37 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Ages And Ages, Singing An Anthem For (And With) Everyone

Ages and Ages performs with The Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir backstage at Newport Folk Festival.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 12:39 pm

Warning: This song will put a smile on your face.

I've seen many magical collaborations at the Newport Folk Festival over the years, as artists band together and create in the Newport spirit. This particular venture was epic, featuring the strongest anthem of the year — by the Portland band Ages and Ages — and the voices of the Berklee Gospel and Roots Choir.

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All Songs Considered
10:49 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Alt-J Will Debut New Album Live In New York

Thom Green, Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton of alt-J
Gabriel Green Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 3:28 pm

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:03 am
Sat August 23, 2014

Rodrigo Amarante: Tiny Desk Concert

Rodrigo Amarante performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

Rodrigo Amarante has made the year's tenderest record. Cavalo is sonically rich and spare at the same time: Every instrument breathes and every sound blends, yet every moment is distinct. At Cavalo's core are heartfelt songs and Amarante's sweet, smoky voice.

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All Songs Considered
7:31 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Song Premiere: Generationals, 'Black Lemon'

The Generationals fourth album 'Alix'
Akasha Rabut Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:14 am

As the end of summer nears, here's one more bouncy tune to carry you into fall. "Black Lemon," by Generationals, two former high school buddies Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, mixes marimba-based jolliness and lyrics tinged with darkness. It looks at life's ties that bind and searches for ways to chill and not fight every battle.

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All Songs TV
10:21 am
Sat August 16, 2014

Anthony D'Amato, 'Good And Ready'

Bianca Bourgeois Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 10:03 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
6:03 am
Sat August 16, 2014

Ernest Ranglin: Tiny Desk Concert

Tiny Desk Concert with Ernest Ranglin on June 25, 2014.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

At 82, legendary guitarist Ernest Ranglin still plays the ska, reggae and jazz that he's championed and helped perfect for more than half a century. Ranglin was a key figure in shaping the sounds of ska — influenced by New Orleans jazz and R&B — in Jamaica in the late 1950s. But most of the world wouldn't hear of ska until producer Chris Blackwell teamed Ranglin up with a Jamaican singer named Millie Small.

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7:21 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Emma Ruth Rundle, 'Arms I Know So Well'

Emma Ruth Rundle.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri August 15, 2014 9:08 am

This is debut music from the ethereal performer Emma Ruth Rundle. The video for "Arms I Know So Well" is a beautiful portrayal of solitude and living with one's self, directed by Thomas McMahan. "Arms I Know So Well" is from her first album, called Some Heavy Ocean. She and her band Marriages is currently on tour with Boris. Tour dates are below.


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All Songs TV
7:56 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Sleepy Kitty, 'Don't You Start'

An image from Sleepy Kitty's "Don't You Start" video
Bill Streeter Courtesy of the band

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 10:05 am

Look! It's a band! It's a screen-printing project! No, it's Sleepy Kitty! Watch this St. Louis duo make art punk fun and a very inky animation for the song "Don't You Start," cut two from Sleepy Kitty's 2014 album, Projection Room.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
12:27 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Bob Mould: Tiny Desk Concert

Tiny Desk Concert with Bob Mould on June 16, 2014.
Sarah Tilotta NPR

Bob Mould came alone, except for his 1987 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster. We provided the Epiphone Blues Custom 30 amp, which he promptly cranked. Needless to say, he announced his own Tiny Desk Concert without using the paging system.

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