My friend Adam has opened my ears to great music in the past few years. At first I attributed his music finding abilities to his tapestries, Radiohead posters, and incessant incense burning. When he and I became better acquainted, I had the guts to ask him to reveal his exploratory method.
“NPR, dude. They’ve got all the best stuff on their website!” Boy was he right.
The NPR Music website, run by Bob Boilen and his staff in DC, does have all the best stuff. I’ve learned more on this website about my favorite musicians than from anywhere else. And I’ve spent hours with NPR as my guide, helping me discover artists who win me over and become my new favorites.
I’m here now to show my gratitude for my favorite NPR segment, the one place you’ll find a band as popular as Wilco playing an intimate concert in an office for a crowd of a few dozen people.
NPR TINY DESK SERIES
This is why they’re awesome:
Great way to find new music
I find that the Tiny Desk format makes it much easier to appreciate and understand genres that I often ignore, and their genre selection is diverse. When music is stripped down to its most basic elements, it’s hard not to feel the quality when you hear it.
Seeing a live performance helps me to decipher whether the band is very talented, or whether they employ skilled sound engineers and producers. The Tiny Desk format is mostly acoustic, unaltered music, and it feels like you’re in the office with the band. Therefore both weaknesses and strengths are amplified.
See your favorites in a new light
A band like Foster the People, who made it big with their single “Pumped up Kicks” showed me they could play their instruments well, keep a beat without a metronome, and kick it in a minimalistic style. I earned a lot of respect for them while viewing their Tiny Desk; they are no longer just a pop band to me.
The Tiny Desk series is a great example that silly ideas do work: Bob thought it would be cool to get artists to come into the office every week or so to play a stripped-down concert. Indeed – it is incredibly cool – and it’s honest and real. It is compelling and stimulating: it compels me to look to look for work with NPR, and it stimulates me to stretch my musical mind.
Below I have embedded three of my favorite Tiny Desk Concerts – I hope you enjoy!
Wilco is a group that should be too wildly successful to play a small show like this, that is if their egos were as large as their fame. It is clear that Jeff Tweedy are just happy to play together and share the “Whole Love” that is Wilco.
I struggled to understand Beirut‘s music until I watched this Tiny Desk, which subsequently compelled me to to buy their new album,”The Rip Tide“. Most of these tracks are off that album, and I really dig it. Kelly: You were right.
23 year old jazz guitarist Julian Lage appears soft-spoken, sweet, and intensely focused. He and his trio have great communication, and really enjoy playing a few tunes for the tiny audience. Julian discusses his new blog which features his 30-day challenge to write one song per day, no matter how crappy it turns out. As Julian says, 30-day challenges (and watching this video) are healthy peer pressure, and I must agree!