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.

Boilen's first book, Your Song Changed My Life, was published in April 2016 by HarperCollins.

I love a deadline and every February I get one. Thanks to The Wire, a small New Hampshire magazine that started the tradition in 2006, I make an album every year. They call it the RPM Challenge, and the challenge is this: write and record an album in the time between the first and last days of February. To qualify as an album, it just needs to be 10 songs or 35 minutes of music.

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The musicians who make up Atoms For Peace are an unusual bunch on the face of it, but when you hear their music, it all makes sense. The rhythm is so intense, and the way it mixes/clashes with all the electronic sounds is pretty thrilling.

It has happened over and over again in the past few years. Someone in their 20s tells me how much they love Fleetwood Mac, and in particular its monster-selling album Rumours. My reaction is always the same. Their reaction is invariably deep surprise. I could never stand that record.

I saw this video and was mesmerized. The music is by Bonobo and the video by Cyriak. The song is called "Cirrus."

They Sing, He Draws

Jan 18, 2013

These stunning images above were all drawn in real time. These were not sketched in pencil first. No photographs were taken to freeze the frenzy that may have ensued on stage during globalFEST 2013, the annual one-night, dozen-band showcase of great up-and-coming musicians from around the world at New York City's Webster Hall last weekend.

The Besnard Lakes have a new album coming out in April, and after hearing the song "People Of The Sticks," it's safe to say we're in for another soaringly gorgeous record from the Canadian rock group.

Last year's collaboration between St. Vincent (Annie Clarke) and David Bryne was surprising on many levels. The album they wrote and recorded together, Love This Giant, is inspired and artful, if not as immediately accessible as some of the solo work each of them has made in the past. On stage, performed live at the Strathmore music hall in Bethesda, MD, the songs found their heart and soul.

When I first heard that David Byrne and St. Vincent's Annie Clark would collaborate, I imagined a quirky, guitar-based dance band. I never expected an eight-piece brass ensemble or a theremin duet. What's brilliant about their album together, Love This Giant, is what makes collaboration exciting: the desire to explore and challenge. We find both artists outside their comfort zones, making music that couldn't have happened independently of each other.

The Daredevil Christopher Wright is a band featuring brothers Jon and Jason Sunde, along with the percussion and voice of Jesse Edgington. The band began in 2004 in Eau Claire, Wis., and put out a second full-length album, The Nature of Things, earlier this year. Now we've got a new song, "A Man of the Arts," which will appear on a split 7" single the group is sharing with the Brooklyn band Cuddle Magic. It may be too simple to say that what attracted me to this song was its vibe, but it's the truth.

Here's a pretty incredible night of music: Flying Lotus, Death Grips and (we're happy to announce) Buke & Gase, all on one stage at (Le) Poisson Rouge in NYC. It's also your chance to meet us. NPR Music is coming together with WNYC's Soundcheck during the CMJ Music Marathon for this show on Wednesday, Oct.

There just aren't many bands like Antibalas. These are jazz players making dance music: Their music is big and fun, and their guiding spirit is Fela Kuti, the brilliant big-band leader and Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer. Afrobeat is a musical style featuring nearly endless songs, mixing funk and jazz, grooves and riffs, with the rhythm carried by not only the drums, but everyone. Everyone — horn players, bass players, guitarists — plays rhythm in Afrobeat music.

We first met Kat Edmonson nearly four years ago, when All Songs Considered put out a challenge to songwriters on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration. We asked musicians around the country to capture the moment in song, and Edmonson, a native of Texas, wrote and sent us "Be the Change." It was clearly the best song we received, and she sang it with a unique voice and wonderful phrasing — so spot on.

Film director and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch is also a musician — not surprisingly, a very cinematic musician. His tastes in music are so much a part of his films: He often casts musicians in key roles and music as part of the storyline. Think about his film Down by Law, with saxophonist John Lurie and singer Tom Waits. Or Stranger Than Paradise, in which "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a key character. The list is pretty long.

Last night, two of today's most recognizable voices lifted the rafters of a glorious synagogue on New York's Lower East Side. The surprise show was announced with just about 12 hours notice, and lucky fans who answered an RSVP quickly filled the venue's few hundred spots.

All Tomorrow's Parties is an extra special music festival. Oddly, it's not just about the music. It's about film, comedy, lecture/conversation and new friendships all bound together by everyone's love for eclectic and passionate music. This year, following a move from Asbury Park (which followed a move from its original Catskill mountain hotel home) to a giant pier on southern tip of Manhattan, it felt more like a convention than a camp. Gone was the coziness of hotel lobbies where artists and participants co-mingled at all hours.

I haven't been able to stop listening to Alt-J since I saw the group in concert last week. Its sound is understated. The band's lead singer has a quirky affect you may love - or not - but the songs are smart, filled with pop culture, film and literary references, from Maurice Sendak to the movie Last Exit to Brooklyn.

Language Advisory: This performance contains language that some listeners may find offensive.

M83 In Concert

Sep 12, 2012

Truth be told, we've been working for a long time to capture and share an M83 show on NPR Music. We tried twice in New York last fall, when the tour for the double album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming started, but it never quite worked out.

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