Back in 2008, NPR’s All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and NPR Music producer Stephen Thompson went to see Portland-based singer/songwriter Laura Gibson at a bar in Austin, Texas. They left feeling frustrated after being unable to hear Gibson’s delicate sound over the roar of the bar-goers. But they also had a novel idea: Why not host a concert in the comfort of their own office, where the music could be center stage? So began Tiny Desk Concerts, and we at the BGS couldn’t be happier to have a multitude of noteworthy performances of all different genres at our fingertips!
After combing through the Tiny Desk archives — and getting sidetracked time and time again along the way — we’ve picked out five must-see concerts for your viewing pleasure.
We can’t get enough of Memphis native Julien Baker’s raw lyricism and delicate delivery. There’s something truly magical about the way her minimalistic yet cutting electric guitar parts reverberate around a room, and that voice just gives us goosebumps.
Chris Thile and Michael Daves
Chris Thile is no stranger to Tiny Desk, and while his performances with Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, and Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Stuart Duncan all showcase his musical genius and energetic stage presence (we wonder if anyone has more fun performing than him), this concert with Michael Daves is our favorite by far.
If Andrew Bird’s signature whistling and violin pizzicato doesn’t pique your interest, we’re not sure what will! This set consists of three songs off of Bird’s 2016 album, Are You Serious. If anyone has any tips on how to play the violin and sing at the same time, please let us know! We are still baffled by how easy Bird makes it look.
Between the raspy voice and rugged cowboy looks, Chris Stapleton epitomizes the country rocker. Joined by wife and fellow singer/songwriter Morgane, Stapleton’s calm, cool, collected manner and remarkable songwriting abilities are unmistakably awe-inspiring in the intimate setting of Tiny Desk. It’s no wonder so many country artists have been clamoring to sing his songs all these years.
It’s not hard to figure out why violinist, folk singer, and disability rights advocate Gaelynn Lea was chosen as the winner of the Tiny Desk Contest from an entrant pool of over 6,000 unsigned artists back in 2016. The combination of her classical and Celtic-folk roots — along with her use of a loop pedal and unique voice — makes her an obvious stand out. Even better, the Tiny Desk format allowed Lea’s endearing personality and humor to shine through.