Tiny Desk Concerts

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Episode Guide

  • 2010
    • Los Lobos
      Los Lobos
      Episode 11.10.10
      Los Lobos has proven time and again that a universal shared experience will always trump culture and language. This short set from the NPR Music office features something new, something old and something to dance to.
    • Black Dub
      Black Dub
      Episode 11.08.10
      At the NPR Music offices, Trixie Whitley and Daniel Lanois brought a variety of instrumental backing, including an electronic bed for the single "I Believe in You," only to ditch many of the accoutrements on the fly. The result is a gripping and revealing performance.
    • Rana Santacruz
      Rana Santacruz
      Episode 11.02.10
      Santacruz's music is as magical as his persona. His songs are filled with fantastic stories of men who make a thousand women fall in love with him, and whose funerals cause a biblical flood of tears. In honor of the Day of the Dead, watch Santacruz perform in traditional mariachi garb.moreless
    • Nick Lowe
      Nick Lowe
      Episode 11.01.10
      Few musicians get better with age. Nick Lowe is an exception: At 61, Lowe is part crooner, part country and a little crotchety, but with a heart of pure pop. Watch the veteran singer-songwriter perform a four-song set in the NPR Music offices.
    • Stile Antico
      Stile Antico
      Episode 10.25.10
      There's nothing particularly funny about most 16th-century choral music, but the young members of the a cappella ensemble Stile Antico cracked themselves up the entire time they sound checked for this Tiny Desk Concert. But when the cameras started rolling, they were all business. Watch the 12-person ensemble perform in the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • Hey Marseilles
      Hey Marseilles
      Episode 10.17.10
      These three songs, performed live at the NPR Music offices, benefit from a rich assortment of instrumentation: cello, viola, accordion, trumpet, snare drum, cymbal, tambourine, another gigantic drum and a pair of acoustic guitars.
    • Lower Dens
      Lower Dens
      Episode 10.10.10
      The music of Lower Dens is dark but spacious and hypnotic, with swaths of feedback and echoing guitars. At the heart is Jana Hunter, a Texas-born, Baltimore-based singer and songwriter whose delicate voice haunts every song. Watch the band perform its blissed-out songs in an intimate set at the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • Tom Tom Club
      Tom Tom Club
      Episode 10.06.10
      Tom Tom Club began as a side project of Talking Heads' rhythm section: the bass of Tina Weymouth and the drums of Chris Frantz. The group's music was a staple of parties and clubs back then, and the music took on a life of its own in various samples and remakes, especially in the pop hit "Genius of Love." Watch the legendary band perform in a rare acoustic set at the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • Esperanza Spalding
      Esperanza Spalding
      Episode 10.03.10
      The bassist and vocalist conceived of Chamber Music Society as an intimate experience, a close musical exchange between a small group of friends. If it was intimacy she wanted, she got her wish: Performing three songs in the constraints of Bob Boilen's workspace ensures that all of her supporting players were nice and cozy.moreless
    • Chuck Brown
      Chuck Brown
      Episode 09.28.10
      The name Chuck Brown might not mean a whole lot to people outside the Washington, D.C., area. That would be their loss. In D.C., Brown is revered as the Godfather of Go-Go. So to have Brown play in a corner of the NPR Music offices with a full, plugged-in 11-member group was like a dream come true for a lot of NPR staffers.moreless
    • Eef Barzelay Of Clem Snide
      Eef Barzelay Of Clem Snide
      Episode 09.20.10
      Barzelay may be the most underrated songwriter in the business today, with a sneakily firm grasp on poignancy and humor, and his live performances convey a kind of awkwardly fidgety fearlessness. Here, he mixes old and new in a charming four-song set at the NPR Music offices.
    • Lost In The Trees
      Lost In The Trees
      Episode 09.20.10
      Led by Ari Picker, who studied film scoring at Berklee, Lost in the Trees creates a cinematic blend of storytelling and strings. There's freshness and excitement to the music he writes, and that comes through in his arrangements of cellos, violins, tubas, French horns, guitar and more. Here, the band performs three of its new songs in the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • Alisa Weilerstein
      Alisa Weilerstein
      Episode 09.15.10
      The young cellist plays Bach with elegance, and takes listeners through the back streets of Buenos Aires with a gripping performance of Omaramor, Osvaldo Golijov's tribute to tango singer Carlos Gardel. Watch her performance at the offices of NPR Music.
    • Seu Jorge
      Seu Jorge
      Episode 09.13.10
      Many Americans know Seu Jorge as the melancholy singer performing mesmerizing David Bowie covers in the movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. In his new project, with his band Almaz, Seu Jorge is far more versatile and danceable. Hear Jorge feed off the audience's energy in this concert at the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • The Nels Cline Singers
      The Nels Cline Singers
      Episode 09.07.10
      Cline, the preposterously skillful and adaptable guitarist's guitarist, is known mostly for his nasty solos with Wilco. But he's also part of the underground rock and free-jazz scenes, in which he's made challenging and expressive music with countless musicians, including those in The Nels Cline Singers. Cline's short set in the NPR Music offices serves as a rare and intimate master class from a thoughtful musician.moreless
    • Ana Tijoux
      Ana Tijoux
      Episode 08.30.10
      Tijoux is proof that hip-hop knows no boundaries. In this intimate performance at the Tiny Desk, the French-born Chilean rapper held a mid-afternoon crowd enthralled with her rhythmic flow and songs from her most recent album, 1977.
    • Brian Courtney Wilson
      Brian Courtney Wilson
      Episode 08.25.10
      It's not quite right to suggest that Wilson transformed NPR Music's boisterous, slightly disheveled, certainly overcrowded office into a church on a Wednesday afternoon earlier this summer. It's more like he made us realize that church music can be played just about anywhere.
    • Lawrence Arabia
      Lawrence Arabia
      Episode 08.23.10
      The witty songs of Lawrence Arabia singer James Milne are good for more than just singing along: They provide a few chuckles, too. Here, the New Zealand band performs four songs from Chant Darling, which showcases Milne's great gift for poppy melodies and rich vocal harmonies.
    • Peter Wolf Crier
      Peter Wolf Crier
      Episode 08.17.10
      The duo exudes sentiment, but with a tinge of fury. The music comes straight from Peter Pisano's heart: He says five songs came to him in rapid fire after a long songwriting dry spell. How that happened remains a mystery to Pisano, but he found a voice he never knew he had. Watch Peter Wolf Crier perform songs from its debut album, Inter-Be.moreless
    • Frazey Ford
      Frazey Ford
      Episode 08.15.10
      It's been four years since fans have heard Frazey Ford's lilting, laid-back voice as part of The Be Good Tanyas. But now she's returned with a solo record called Obadiah. Ford came to NPR for this Tiny Desk Concert -- just her guitar and a cheetah jumpsuit -- and lulled the office with four beautiful tunes from the album.moreless
    • Mavis Staples
      Mavis Staples
      Episode 08.09.10
      Staples is a legend, but she's not stuck in the past. While most know her work with the Staple Singers in the '70s, with hits like "Respect Yourself" and "I’ll Take You There," Staples has kept active. Her latest album, You Are Not Alone, was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. The record doesn't come out until Sept. 14, but you can get a good idea of what a treat it is from this stripped-down but soulful Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • The Holmes Brothers
      The Holmes Brothers
      Episode 08.02.10
      When The Holmes Brothers showed up to play a Tiny Desk Concert, the group arrived early -- really early, and ready to work. These folks are pros: They've been working at it for more than 30 years, playing soul music steeped in Baptist hymns, blues and spirituals. Hear the group perform live at the NPR Music offices.moreless
    • Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Zakir Hussain
      Individually, Fleck, Meyer and Hussain are world-class masters of the banjo, the bass fiddle and the tabla, respectively. Playing together in the offices of NPR Music, the three demonstrate the way musical mastery can be transformed into an exercise in wordless communication.
    • Villagers
      Episode 07.19.10
      Conor O'Brien essentially is Villagers. The Dublin, Ireland, native played nearly all of the instruments on the band's debut album, Becoming a Jackal, and even did the cover artwork. Though he tours with a full backing band, for this Tiny Desk performance he showed up with just his guitar. In the process, he treated the NPR staff to one of the most beautiful and memorable sets we've had here.moreless
    • Jimmy Cliff
      Jimmy Cliff
      Episode 07.12.10
      Reggae giant Jimmy Cliff is a gentle soul whose most legendary songs appeared on the soundtrack to the 1972 film The Harder They Come. In many ways, his aging voice sounds better than ever in this short concert at the NPR Music offices.
    • Los Campesinos!
      Los Campesinos!
      Episode 07.05.10
      Los Campesinos! usually performs with as many as eight members -- the group needs that many to reproduce the mightily clamorous ruckus heard on its records -- but only four Campesinos are present here. And while there's no nudity or violence in this performance by the whip-smart U.K. band, the group's bawdy, often sexually suggestive lyrics make this the closest we've come to a NSFW Tiny Desk Concert.moreless
    • Gogol Bordello
      Gogol Bordello
      Episode 06.28.10
      Gogol Bordello's frenetic live show is a gypsy punk circus, complete with a high-wire act. So when the band arrived at the modest NPR Music offices, we wanted to make sure we were covered technically. If you watch this video and don't get to the part where Eugene Hutz dances on the desks, then you've missed the most rollicking and insane Tiny Desk Concert of all time.moreless
    • 'Weird Al' Yankovic
      'Weird Al' Yankovic
      Episode 06.22.10
      Even after 12 million albums sold in more than three decades, Yankovic and his band still hadn't played their first Tiny Desk Concert until just now. In these three Yankovic originals (1988's "Good Old Days," 1992's "You Don't Love Me Anymore" and the new White Stripes pastiche "CNR"), it's remarkable how quickly the singer and his band adjust and thrive.moreless
    • The Mynabirds
      The Mynabirds
      Episode 06.21.10
      Laura Burhenn says she'd long imagined a band that sounded like Neil Young playing Motown. A veteran of the pop group Georgie James, she formed The Mynabirds to capture a grittier and more soulful sound. Burhenn recently brought The Mynabirds to the NPR Music offices to perform songs from What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood.moreless
    • Zuill Bailey
      Zuill Bailey
      Episode 06.04.10
      For cellist Zuill Bailey, J.S. Bach's solo cello suites loom as a kind of musical Mount Everest. As Bailey describes it, every trip up the mountain brings a new challenge. Hear the acclaimed musician play Bach on his amazingly resonant cello, built in 1693.
    • Roger McGuinn With Amy Tan, Dave Barry And More: Authors At The Tiny Desk
      Authors Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount Jr., Kathy Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry didn't bring any instruments to their performance at Bob Boilen's desk. But they were smart enough to bring a ringer: The Byrds' Roger McGuinn.
    • Bettye LaVette
      Bettye LaVette
      Episode 05.21.10
      We were not prepared for Bettye LaVette's appearance in the NPR Music offices. We thought we were -- having set up our cameras and recording gear and signed in all the friends who had heard she was scheduled to play and beaten down our door. But then she blew into the room and conquered it before she'd sung a single note.moreless
    • Phoenix
      Episode 05.18.10
      In this episode of Tiny Desk Concerts, NPR welcomes French musicians Thomas Mars, Deck D'Arcy, Christian Mazzalai, and Laurent Brancowitz, members of the widely-appealing band, Phoenix. In 2009, the band's best-selling album, Wolfgang Amadeus became so popular that it became difficult to miss the catchy beats and rhythmic lyrics that have become so synonymous with today's alternative indie pop scene. At Tiny Desk Concert, we strip the sounds from their electro-beat towers to acoustically melodious street performance versions. Check out this episode and hear Phoenix's 1901 and Liztomania, "unplugged."moreless
    • Tarrus Riley
      Tarrus Riley
      Episode 05.11.10
      In the calm-before-the-storm part of the day and week -- 10 o'clock on a Monday morning, to be exact -- reggae singer Tarrus Riley, saxophonist Dean Fraser and guitarist Lamont Savory showed up and performed three gorgeous, harmony-drenched reggae songs.
    • Moby And Kelli Scarr
      Moby And Kelli Scarr
      Episode 05.04.10
      On an early winter's evening, with an acoustic guitar and lyric sheet in hand, Moby and Kelli Scarr strolled up to Bob Boilen's desk and gave a small concert. The casual affair was the duo's first-ever live performance of their brand-new Project Song creation, "Gone to Sleep."
    • Fredrik
      Episode 05.03.10
      Fredrik's new record, Trilogi, is a strange, dark concept album meticulously crafted in a studio, so there was no telling how the band might pull off its songs in a Tiny Desk Concert. With a single strummed guitar, a snare drum, a maraca and triggered odd sounds, it all came together beautifully.moreless
    • Lionel Loueke
      Lionel Loueke
      Episode 04.26.10
      Listen to any Lionel Loueke record long enough and you'll wonder, "How did he make that noise?" When the unusual jazz guitarist and his drummer showed up for a video performance at the NPR Music offices — literally with bells on — they helped answer that question.
    • David Russell
      David Russell
      Episode 04.19.10
      With rippling notes, intertwining melodies and a warm, lyrical tone, classical guitarist David Russell plays pieces from the baroque, from Latin America and from deep in the soul of Spain.
    • Regina Carter
      Regina Carter
      Episode 04.11.10
      Carter's violin has expressed moods inspired by European classical, bebop, Afro-Cuban and Southern blues music. On her new album Reverse Thread, and in this recent performance at the NPR Music offices, Carter plays traditional African melodies, re-imagined through her own jazz sensibilities.
    • Jakob Dylan
      Jakob Dylan
      Episode 04.02.10
      There have only been a handful of Tiny Desk Concerts where NPR employees have overflowed our modest office space, stepping away from looming deadlines to hear some music. Jakob Dylan and his touring companions, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan and Paul Rigby, joined those ranks when they stopped by to perform a mesmerizing, stripped-down set of songs from his latest record, Women and Country.moreless
    • Wye Oak
      Wye Oak
      Episode 03.29.10
      The Baltimore duo didn't have to travel far to liven up a day at the NPR Music offices. Wye Oak's four-song Tiny Desk Concert draws two songs from a new EP called My Neighbor/My Creator, another from 2007's If Children and an as-yet-unreleased song called "Civilian."
    • The Antlers
      The Antlers
      Episode 03.15.10
      For much of the past year, the band has stunned live audiences with its extraordinary range, moving seamlessly and gracefully from quiet, delicate moments to thundering swells of chaotic rock noise. That said, for this Tiny Desk performance, the trio pulled way back, offering stripped-down versions of songs from Hospice.
    • Omara Portuondo
      Omara Portuondo
      Episode 03.08.10
      The singer was part of a musical scene in 1950s Cuba that produced an entire generation of musical innovators and pioneers. The two classic boleros she performs in this Tiny Desk Concert are a reflection of the passion for life she instills in every performance.
    • Laura Veirs
      Laura Veirs
      Episode 03.01.10
      The songs on July Flame orbit around Veirs' acoustic-guitar playing and voice. But it's her idiosyncratic lyrics and melodic flourishes that imbue her music with sun-dappled warmth; hers is the sound of immense, wide-open spaces. When a very pregnant Veirs settled in for this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, that same kind-hearted intimacy shone through.moreless
    • Alec Ounsworth
      Alec Ounsworth
      Episode 02.22.10
      As the frontman for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth wrote brash, poppy songs. But the singer and songwriter clearly had more music to make. In the fall of 2009, he released a solo record called Mo' Beauty, an album he wrote and recorded in New Orleans with a number of local musicians. Here, Ounsworth performs songs from Mo' Beauty, accompanied only by two guitars.moreless
    • Abaji
      Episode 02.15.10
      With a trove of instruments, languages and good humor, Abaji demonstrates his passion for music that reflects his numerous family roots, including Armenia, Turkey, Greece and France. Watch him perform a short concert at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.
    • Edmar Castaneda
      Edmar Castaneda
      Episode 02.08.10
      Castaneda is the sort of musician who isn't afraid to challenge the established order. He's carving out a place for himself in Latin jazz on an instrument you don't often hear in his style of music: the Colombian harp. Castaneda recently parked himself behind Bob Boilen's desk and crafted a transporting mix of tradition and improvisation.moreless
    • David Rawlings And Gillian Welch
      Rawlings is a gifted producer, session guitarist and singer known for his contributions to other musicians' work, and for his longtime partnership with folk and traditional country artist Gillian Welch. But when he and Welch stopped by NPR for this Tiny Desk Concert , it was to promote Rawlings' own album — the first he's ever made under his name.moreless
    • Brooklyn Rider
      Brooklyn Rider
      Episode 01.26.10
      It's hard to know what will happen when the string quartet Brooklyn Rider starts playing. Yes, these four guys love to play Debussy and Brahms, but they're just as likely to team up with a singer-songwriter or a Kurdish kamancheh player. Or write their own music. So we weren't sure what they'd do when they stopped by the NPR Music offices to play a Tiny Desk Concert. What we got was a bracing sample of their visceral fire.moreless
    • The Low Anthem
      The Low Anthem
      Episode 01.20.10
      When The Low Anthem came to perform at NPR Music, the band seemed humbled and comfortable sitting on and around Bob Boilen's desk, playing music as if it were hanging around in someone's living room. The group's sullen, spacious music was a perfect fit for the intimacy of an office.
    • Adam Arcuragi
      Adam Arcuragi
      Episode 01.10.10
      When Arcuragi came to the NPR Music offices to play a Tiny Desk Concert, many of us hadn't heard his music. After hearing him play three songs, many walked away dazzled by his voice. Arcuragi's voice is powerful, but without unnecessary melodrama.
    • The Mountain Goats
      The Mountain Goats
      Episode 01.03.10
      In person, John Darnielle's twitchy, nervous energy serves his fearless songwriting well: His performances are utterly committed, with intensity that infuses his screams and whispers alike. In this solo Tiny Desk Concert, his four songs fit nearly into distinct categories: new and quiet, new and loud, old and quiet, and old and loud. It's no surprise that all four approaches serve him well.moreless
  • 2009
  • 2008