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.

We threw a curve ball at Justin Townes Earle. Despite his five albums full of well-loved songs, we asked him to play new material for this Tiny Desk Concert; songs we hadn't yet heard. Earle's new album Single Mothers comes out this week, and here he performs two tracks from that record: "White Gardenias," his nod to Billie Holiday, and "Burning Pictures."

Barbra Streisand, one of the most loved singers of all time and the best-selling female recording artist ever (according to RIAA statistics) has teamed up with the ever soulful, gospel-inspired singer John Legend on a song she originally recorded with Bee Gees singer and songwriter Barry Gibb in 1980.

These days, Jessica Lea Mayfield is all contrasts, starting with the way she sets her wistful voice against her shimmering guitar. It's got a harder edge to it than the rootsier music of her past. Then there's that cotton-candy hair and all the glitter; her guitar glitters, her eyes glitter, her shoes glitter. It's easier to talk about what isn't glittered — and mostly that'd be her lyrics. In the final song from both her album Make My Head Sing...

What immediately attracted me to Trampled by Turtles when I first saw the band was its speed, but the Minnesotans are about more than just blistering bluegrass. They also write beautiful, heartfelt folk-pop songs, as this Tiny Desk Concert demonstrates.

All three of these tunes come from Trampled By Turtles' new eighth album, Wild Animals. Watching the band gathered around one mic seemed perfectly right.

Set List

  • "Come Back Home"
  • "Winners"
  • "Lucy"

Credits

The song title "Jackie and Wilson" is a playful nod, of course, to the great R&B singer Jackie Wilson. And don't worry — Hozier, the 24-year-old Irish soul singer and guitarist, has the grace and the backbeat to make it work.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne has already released two hit-filled EPs, and on Oct. 7, he'll finally release his first album. A version of this song will be on that record, but in the meantime, you can watch Hozier perform it live with his band in the studio.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

MARRIAGES – ON TOUR

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.

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.

As its name suggests, Tweedy is a new band featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and his 18-year-old son and drummer Spencer. Tweedy recently recorded an album together, out Sept. 23, titled Sukierae. (It's pronounced sue-key-ray.)

There's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band. Based in San Francisco and led by Liam McCormick, The Family Crest builds its songs from a combination of infectious enthusiasm and powerful talent. The group owes its huge sound not just to its seven members, but to the community that records and plays with them. Eighty people are credited on The Family Crest's first album, Beneath the Brine.

One of the many instruments you may hear Saintseneca play — beyond the banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, bass and bouzouki — is a stomp box. Basically, it's a roughly 2'x2' plywood floorboard meant for pounding the beat. At a show just before this Tiny Desk Concert, craftily bearded singer Zac Little put his boot right through that floorboard.

My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.

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This is the second time Hamilton Leithauser has graced the Tiny Desk. Two summers ago, he and his band The Walkmen played a powerful set of songs from their final album for now, Heaven.

Truth be told, Holly Williams brought me and many of my hardened colleagues to tears. The singer-songwriter has a magnificent way with words and phrasing, not to mention a country-music lineage that fills her with pride and guides her poignancy and subject matter.

John Grant's songs don't mess around: The music isn't complicated, while the lyrics function as darts of retort and thought. His album Pale Green Ghosts is decorated with synthesizers, his voice often drenched in reverb; those tools and textures help make the record strong and everlasting.

The latest video from Pattern Is Movement is up close and personal, featuring the best music this Philadelphia duo has made in 14 years of recording together. Watch Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward perform "Suckling," with just drums, keyboards and voice. The cut is from the band's self-titled album, released earlier this year on Hometapes.

Bad acting meets good music in this collaboration between former Pixies bassist Kim Deal and Morgan Nagler, aka Whispertown. The new video for their single, "Range On Castle," includes classic footage from the 1963 Roger Corman film The Terror, starring Boris Karloff and a very young Jack Nicholson.

Since winning the Icelandic Music Award for best album of the year in his home country a few years ago, Ásgeir Trausti — best known simply as Ásgeir — has begun to win over larger parts of the world, including the U.S. He has a calm upper range voice, a voice not unlike Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Later, he released In The Silence, a version of that award-winning album with the lyrics translated into the English.

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