Tiny Desk Concerts: Intimate and Powerful Music Performances

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Looking for an inspiring place to find new, creative and powerful music?

Well my friend, I would certainly recommend one: Tiny Desk Concerts.

Tiny Desk Concerts is a show from NPR (National Public Radio) with a simple concept: promote bands playing mostly acoustic versions of their songs, in an unusual and intimate environment. And very importantly, the space is incredibly democratic and is open to artists in the most varied moments of their careers or levels of fame.

Normally artists plays 3-4 songs and performances usually last 10-15 minutes.

Adele playing at Tiny desk.
Adele playing at Tiny desk.

Who Created Tiny Desk?

The show was developed in 2008 by Bob Boilen and is also hosted by him since then. Bob is a highly respected musician, producer, music and art expert, and has done an incredible work finding and promoting artists, bands and sharing new authentic music with the world.

He has also written a book tilted “Your Song Changed MY Life”. The book discusses modern music, icons of the music industry digs deep to discuss how the passion for music develops.

For example, he asked a series of talented music musicians a wonderful question:

Is there a unforgettable song that changed your life?

And who answered it? Well, masters such as Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), St. Vincent, Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Cat Power, David Byrne (Talking Heads), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters).

Source: yoursongchangedmylife.com

If that was not enough, Bob also has a band called Danger Painters, although he says currently his focus mostly lies in photography.


Where Do the Shows Take Place?

One of the most incredible things is that all shows take place inside the NPR office in Washington DC (USA). And most interestingly, where do artists play exactly?

In Bob Boilen’s office, right in front of his desk!

Incredible, right? Can you imagine working normally and suddenly watching an Adele concert while you get up from your chair to get a quick coffee?

Sometime ago they developed a 360 video led by Bob Boilen, which showcases the backstage of the program. It gives a great perspective of where the shows take place:


Iconic Performances at Tiny Desk

Over the years hundreds of musicians have played there and it would be literally impossible to name the best. The most admirable things about Tiny Desk is how democratic it is.

The presentations range from world famous artists capable of selling out arenas such as Adele and The Cranberries, to complete unknown musicians. Thus, it is very difficult to select just a few performances.

So I have chosen a very simple criteria: My own preference. Biased? Absolutely!

Here are 10 performances I truly enjoyed.

Oh, and don’t mind the order.

1. Mac Miller

2. Lisa Hannigan

3. Adele

4. Rodrigo Amarante

5. Brushy One String

6. Lianne LaHavas

7. Superorganism

8. The National

9. Billy Corgan

10. The Cranberries


Final Thoughts

I find it truly exciting to see people such as Bob, opening stages and showcasing musicians from around the globe. It is a really genuine act. We honestly need more people with such attitude and proactive attitude, not only in music, but in life in general.

And let’s all hope for many more democratic stages such as Tiny Desk, allowing musicians to share their music, ideas and passion.

Turn it up and enjoy the tunes!

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