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To be fair, the desk is pretty small.
August 14, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Since 2008, NPR's All Songs Considered has been doing the Tiny Desk Concert series in which they invite a musician or band or very large group to come and play a song behind the desk of the show's host, Bob Bollen, with the video camera running. The result can be intimate, absurd, raucous and just plain enjoyable. A browseable archive of all 150+ shows is here.

Nota Bene: links reflect my own very biased tastes in music, your favorite NPR show sucks, etc.
posted by 1f2frfbf (42 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite

 
What's this blue thing doing here?
posted by tommasz at 8:33 AM on August 14, 2011


Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, was in a band 30 years ago called Tiny Desk Unit. I'm a fan of ASC & TDC, but if I'd heard the explanation before about the name, I'd totally forgotten it. Every time I hear one of these concert, I'm jealous of my friends who work at NPR (oooh that's right, I name-dropped nobody in particular!) who have access to this up close & personal.

I'm partial to those of the bands that I've seen live, but the Adele one is, for me, beyond all others.
posted by knile at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2011


How did you not link Adele?
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on August 14, 2011


Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch: 2nd song in, "Ruby". Such an absence of vanity in their performance, and what a beautiful, spine-tingling song.
posted by Wrick at 8:59 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


How did you not link Adele?

Because I'm a bad person who hates all that is goodness and light. Also: I figured I'd have many enlightened individuals, such as yourself, chiming on their favorites, so I have to leave a few of the gems out there, for others to find and mention.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:59 AM on August 14, 2011


Whoa, that Fleck/Meyer/Hussain trio on banjo, bass fiddle and tabla is amazing! Thanks for sharing this 1f2frfbf. Best music i've heard this week.
posted by storybored at 9:01 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gogol Bordello: Tiny Desk Concert.

"If you watch this video and don't get to the part where Eugene Hutz is dancing on the desks, then you've missed the most rollicking and insane Tiny Desk Concert of all time."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:03 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Avett Brothers one is fantastic.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing that blows my mind is they got Weird Al to do one
posted by wheelieman at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


How did you not link Adele?
Because I, too, am a bad person who hates all that is goodness and light?
posted by knile at 9:19 AM on August 14, 2011


I love these. I've watched the Bill Callahan one about 10 times.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2011


How did you not link Adele?

My daughter listens to pop radio and they play her at least 100,000 times a day. Amazing how a radio station can actually make you not like a song you normally would.
posted by fungible at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Needs MOAR METAL.

OTOH, yay Nels Cline!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:29 AM on August 14, 2011


Ralph Stanley.
posted by brennen at 9:38 AM on August 14, 2011


Thanks for this!
posted by Catbunny at 9:50 AM on August 14, 2011


Jackie Evancho is... impressive.
posted by kethonna at 10:08 AM on August 14, 2011


Oh man, Lost in the Trees is in there! Weirdly atmospheric kind of orchestral band from my college town. They seem to be getting big and I'm super jazzed about it...
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:17 AM on August 14, 2011


Oh, woah. Sam Phillips. That's awesome. An artist I've loved for decades and have lost track of. This performance is inspiring me to track down what she's done across the years. Thanks so much!
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Tiny Desks are AWESOME. I'm so glad you put this here so more folks can find them. I was about six feet from the Avett Brothers when they did theirs, and I almost passed out from the greatness. Other favorites of mine: Jimmy Cliff, The Swell Season, Bettye LaVette (famous for saying of playing in an office, "Doing this isn't difficult ... it's just stupid"), Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, Chris Otepka (a/k/a The Heligoats), Nick Lowe, Booker T, and the David Wax Museum. Seriously, if you don't watch the David Wax Museum one, you're only hurting yourself. And, yes, Adele, who was wonderful.

They are fantastic. (My desk is in that room, too, but nobody ever performs at it.)
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:02 AM on August 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is amazing. I love this format - All of the energy and life of a live recording, but with studio sound quality. Fantastic, thanks for introducing me to this!

There are so many good concerts in here:
K'Naan
11 year old Jackie Evancho
but so far my favourite has been David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (linked in the OP under "enjoyable")
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:46 AM on August 14, 2011


More compelling proof that NPR is one of America's most valuable cultural institutions.
posted by schmod at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2011


ACK! K'naan! Yes. Yes, yes, yes. I knew I was forgetting one of the best ones.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2011


When I was a little kid, I thought that all music coming out of the radio was played live at the station. Why did I think this? Because DJ's would say "we've got so and so coming up, right here at KXYZ!" I pictured musicians hurrying in and out of the station, setting up and playing just in time, several acts lined up when they would play several songs in a row...it was fun to think about.
posted by telstar at 12:00 PM on August 14, 2011


The Avett Brothers on Tiny Desk.

"Did you swallow an amplifier??"

posted by lazaruslong at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love the tiny desk concert series! I first learned of The Tallest Man on Earth by watching the tiny desk archive. So good. This is gonna waste the rest of my weekend.
posted by Arbac at 12:58 PM on August 14, 2011


Holy hell, Rawlings and Welch's cover of Cortez the Killer gave me chills. Fantastic stuff.
posted by octothorpe at 1:13 PM on August 14, 2011


When I was a little kid, I thought that all music coming out of the radio was played live at the station. Why did I think this? Because DJ's would say "we've got so and so coming up, right here at KXYZ!" I pictured musicians hurrying in and out of the station, setting up and playing just in time, several acts lined up when they would play several songs in a row...it was fun to think about.

There was a time when radio was actually done that way! Really!
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on August 14, 2011


I've had plenty of quality procrastination sessions just watching Tiny Desk Concert videos over and over.

A couple favorites of mine were Rodrigo y Gabriela because their guitar chops are amazing to watch, and Raphael Saadiq because I'm a sucker for soul music and his guitar versions give a really different feel from the album versions (but equally great of course).
posted by p3t3 at 3:09 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a treasure trove! And the perfect post to while away a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Here's one that really caught my fancy: Ben Solee.
posted by jaruwaan at 3:52 PM on August 14, 2011


Lazaruslong thanks for the pointer to the Avett Bros. Never heard of them but that little performance of theirs is mighty fine.
posted by storybored at 5:42 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Memorable moments from the Tiny Desk. Listen to the podcast overview or scroll down for video links.
posted by storybored at 6:35 PM on August 14, 2011


Don't miss Edmar Castaneda on the Colombian harp--He at least appears to be the youngest musician too. Also, the duet between Ballake Sissoko And Vincent Segal is gorgeous. If you haven't heard the kora, once you hear it, you'll need more in your life. If you become addicted, also check out Toumani Diabate. Most recent was a duet with the late Ali Farka Toure.
posted by outfieldrambler at 2:02 AM on August 15, 2011


This is one of 2 podcasts I *always* make time for.
posted by DigDoug at 11:39 AM on August 15, 2011


Josh Ritter. Boom.

I LOVE the first song he plays, "Temptation of Adam." This performance of that tune doesn't hold up to the album version I don't think (I do like the little laugh when he screws up the lyrics), but it's great enough to shine through anyway.

Anyway. He's a really fun performer. Clearly loves to perform and his smile is totally infectious.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a just world the Avett Brothers would be Mumford & Sons, and vice versa.
posted by penduluum at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2011


When I was a little kid, I thought that all music coming out of the radio was played live at the station.

I thought that old radios would only play old music. I was a stupid kid.
posted by Knappster at 6:39 PM on August 15, 2011


telstar: "When I was a little kid, I thought that all music coming out of the radio was played live at the station. "

I thought the same thing, just was how I could see it, maybe because of television -- you saw the musicians playing on tv. (though of course we know now that it's all canned, or most of it was then, for sure)

This is the first I've seen of Adele -- I'm one of these people who just lets music come as it will, I don't and won't listen to top forty, blah blah blah. Stubborn, foolish, whatever. Anyways, that's how I missed her, and missing her was missing a lot -- she is sure great. What a singer, what great songs, too. Whoa. And goddamn, she's darling, she is just so, so darling -- she's just one of the most kissable woman that there is, aren't you just dying to kiss her, and kiss on her? I damn sure am. Fuck. Jesus christ. What a babe!

Fun to watch her as she moves in and out of her songs; when she's singing it seems that she is inhabiting her songs or maybe they are inhabiting her, she just changes is all, then the song is over and she's just a kid who talks funny -- her eyes are different, everything, it's just like she moves in and out of those damn songs, they take her over. Very, very cool. Sure looks like art to me, or, rather, capital A Art. What a woman!

btw, for whatever reason the stream KEPT ON slipping and sliding, buffering, totally annoying, happens sometimes for whatever reason, and when it does I just download the vid using the downloadhelper Firefox add-on and then play it locally on my puter. But since it's on stinkin' NPR the .FLV files are totally hidden out somehow -- and I sure did look everywhere I know to look, both in firefox and opera; I guess I'm not geeky enough to figure out what they're doing. Anyways, the reason I'm writing this is to let anyone/everyone know that these Tiny Desk concerts are also on youtube, and they surely did stream one heck of a lot better there, and if they hadn't I'd have downloaded and played locally, etc and etc. Just an fyi
posted by dancestoblue at 8:42 PM on August 15, 2011


This is the first I've seen of Adele -- I'm one of these people who just lets music come as it will, I don't and won't listen to top forty, blah blah blah. Stubborn, foolish, whatever. Anyways, that's how I missed her, and missing her was missing a lot -- she is sure great. What a singer, what great songs, too. Whoa. And goddamn, she's darling, she is just so, so darling -- she's just one of the most kissable woman that there is, aren't you just dying to kiss her, and kiss on her? I damn sure am. Fuck. Jesus christ. What a babe!

Well, here, then. All three parts of her appearance on Graham Norton, or if you prefer, just her performance of Set Fire To The Rain. You're welcome.

Mr hippybear is usually unwilling to watch the musical performances on Graham Norton, but he not only tolerated all of Adele's song, he had good things to say about it when it was done and said he'd like to hear more from her. That's HUGE praise from Mr hippybear.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 PM on August 15, 2011


btw, for whatever reason the stream KEPT ON slipping and sliding, buffering, totally annoying, happens sometimes for whatever reason, and when it does I just download the vid using the downloadhelper Firefox add-on and then play it locally on my puter. But since it's on stinkin' NPR the .FLV files are totally hidden out somehow

Seriously? It's totally easy to download individual episodes of this video podcast. All you have to do is click the link at the top of the page which says "Watch The Video Below Or Download By Subscribing To The Tiny Desk Concerts Podcast" [which is on every artist's TDC page], and then on the next page you click on the orange rectangular POD link which takes you to the RSS page for the entire series. There you have a full list of all the .m4v files at your fingertips, awaiting your right-click and "Download File...".

You don't have to hunt for anything. It's all right there in the open.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on August 15, 2011


Well, here, then. All three parts of her appearance on Graham Norton, or if you prefer, just her performance of Set Fire To The Rain . You're welcome.

After watching her sing Set Fire to the Rain, I suddenly want to hear her cover Black.
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on August 15, 2011


Adele seems pretty rad and I wish I could enjoy her but I have been programmed, Clockwork Orange-like, to fly into a blind rage every time I hear her voice.

I worked at a coffee shop where, for many months (until we wore management down with our constant bitching), we were forced to listen to the exact same corporately-mandated playlist of quirky pop, in the same order, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Some of the songs weren't bad, but it didn't matter in the end. Many songs were ruined for me because of that job, and Chasing Pavements by Adele is one of them. Actually, all of Adele is ruined for me. I can't stand the sound of her voice anymore. I am literally getting angry just thinking about it. It's a shame, because I can tell she's good, but... rage.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:27 PM on August 15, 2011


Yeah, I've been a fan of Adele since High Contrast remixed Hometown Glory like 3 years ago, and have been recommending her to anybody in the US that would listen for years, but that was before she turned into a big star here (I have no idea how famous she was in the UK before that).

Adele is also one of the few artists I recommended to my Mom that she actually liked, and now she thinks she's some kind of hipster because she was listening to her before she was famous.
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on August 16, 2011


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