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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.

(You can find a playlist of the artists I saw this week at the bottom of this piece.)

I've always been an album guy. I love to hear an album in full, uninterrupted. But for the last eight years or so, my love of live music has superseded my love for studio recordings. Small clubs with great sound have propelled that passion. I also love the community small shows create. Thanks to the access my job provides, I see 400 to 600 bands a year.

Breaking news this morning: Dan Auerbach has been abducted by aliens to compete in intergalactic demolition derbies.

There's new music from Lucius: The New York quartet's song "Million Dollar Secret" will be featured on HBO's Girls this Sunday.

Merchandise is, colloquially anyways, the engine that drives the boat, the rocket fuel that propels careers toward the stars!

Actually, according to Martin Atkins, author of Welcome To The Music Business, You're F****d!, merchandise is more like "the small hand-cranked trolley that inches up the funicular railway, inch by rusted, mangled inch, up the hill." Merchandise, particularly t-shirts, are the subject of this fun-filled Martin Atkins Minute (actually six fun-filled minutes).

My favorite rock band, alt-J, has a pleasantly surprising piece of new music this morning — "3WW" comes from the band's third album, Relaxer, which they announced this morning and will be out June 9 on Canvasback Music. Unlike some of their brasher music, this song has the feel of a West African tune, with a gentle plucked sound that reminds me of an ngoni or kora.

We watched more than 6,000 videos. Ten judges weighed in. Now, the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest has a winner.

Sincerity, community and beauty is how I think of Lowland Hum; the sounds of Lauren and Daniel Goans. Thin is the husband and wife duo's third album since their 2013 debut, further refining their hushed harmonies and aural paintings. It's a sound that makes them a quiet Sunday-morning favorite. Some of the imagery comes from the beauty they see in the landscapes and locales they traverse and visit all over this country; art centers, cafes, nightclubs, house shows, racking up something like 45,000 miles in a Toyota Sienna between 2014 and 2015.

When Jens Lekman sings a song, it often seems to me like we're friends chatting on the couch, its twists and turns like the stream of a consciousness.

At Babak's school there is a 3D printer,

and he prints out a model of the tumor,

that was surgically removed from his back this winter,

in it's rugged grey plastic it looks lunar.

He puts the tumor in his breastpocket,

as we head out for a beer.

There's been some changes for Real Estate — most notably, the departure of guitarist Matt Mondanile. Yet the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. And that's just fine.

Bob Dylan is about to release a triple album of classic songs. These are not his classics — Triplicate continues Bob Dylan's passion for making new recordings of the Great American Songbook.

I've heard the same story from both our previous Tiny Desk Contest winners: They weren't going to enter the Contest until someone encouraged them to do it. Well, the entry period closes at 11:59 p.m. ET this Sunday, Jan. 29.

He released Iceland's largest selling debut album ever in 2012, and now Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, best known simply as Ásgeir, is back. Today we're debuting "Unbound," the new song from Afterglow, the 24-year-old singer's follow-up to In The Silence.

Wire made three of my favorite albums of the late 1970s: Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978) and 154 (1979). Now, 40 years later, this brash, sonically adventurous British band is back with "Short Elevated Period," a song from a brand new album called Silver/Lead, coming March 31, and they didn't let me down.

For more than 50 years, the recently knighted Sir Raymond Douglas Davies, CBE, has been fascinated with American music and American culture. In the early 1960s, he and his brother Dave formed The Kinks to play Little Richard songs and original tunes steeped in rock 'n' roll.

We've officially closed the books on 2016 (finally), and we're ready to fall in love with some new music, from the big and hopeful to the crushingly sad.

The 2017 Tiny Desk Contest is now open! Starting today, I'll be watching your videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk. And I won't be doing it alone. Our team of judges includes these fantastic musicians:

The three women in The Wild Reeds love a good crescendo. They have three powerful upfront voices in Sharon Silva, Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe and they all write songs to honor and embrace their soaring voices. Since their Tiny Desk Concert a little more than a year ago, over a half of a million people have seen it on our YouTube Channel.

Julien Baker never imagined her sad songs would be loved beyond a small circle of friends.

We had some memorable conversations with a lot of our favorite musicians in 2016.

I could call this list "The Songs I Love To Drive Around With." More often than not, these 2016 songs set you up for a brilliant climax, often an unforgettable chorus. And I found a wide variety of artists that made songs with that memorable character, artists ranging from barely 20 years old to a reflective 82, from Niger to Nashville, from British hip-hop to yearning falsetto. I'd be thrilled to turn on a radio and hear this broad world of sound represent the Top 40.

Bob Boilen's Top 40 Songs Of 2016

So the other day Martin Atkins sent me an audio file that made me smile. It's called Bad Day, and it's sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

Martin, a funny guy driven by a kind heart, used to be the drummer for Public Image Ltd. This is the story of how he quit that band — even though they had a big hit with "This Is Not A Love Song" — and wound up digging ditches for Bon Jovi's drummer in New Jersey.

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