Thursday 11am – 1pm on 91.1 Triple Z, South Australia
NPR – Tiny Desk Concerts
In a perfect world, there’d be no crowded bar shows or super-sized arena concerts. Musicians would come to your home for a private performance, or they’d show up at your office and play at your desk, easing you through the workday.
That’s what All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and NPR Music producer Stephen Thompson were thinking after they tried to catch a Laura Gibson show earlier this year in Austin, Tex. Gibson, a folksinger from Portland, Ore., has a really quiet voice — her gentle guitar strumming isn’t much louder — so it was nearly impossible to hear over a blathering bar crowd.
And so begins what we hope will be a recurring series at NPR Music: “Tiny Desk Concerts.”
The Omaha-based folk-pop duo Azure Ray was built around the tension between its two very different halves: the playful experimentation of Orenda Fink and the straight-to-the-heart melancholy of Maria Taylor. Ever since Azure Ray went on hiatus in 2004, Fink and Taylor have released solo records and side projects — Fink popped up as half of O+S earlier this year, while both have performed in Now It’s Overhead and Bright Eyes — that play to their respective strengths. In the case of Taylor, that’s meant three terrific albums (11:11, Lynn Teeter Flower and the new LadyLuck) that bleed wistful beauty.
With all due respect to its terrific albums and kinetic, frenetic live shows, if The Avett Brothers could put on a three-song acoustic concert at every workplace in America, the band would be a world-beating colossus. For proof, take six minutes to don some headphones and listen to “Laundry Room,” which opens this set at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.
Showing up alone — no band, no road manager — Great Lake Swimmers, Tony Dekker was enormously kind, but his timidity was apparent whenever he wasn’t softly singing one of his band’s gorgeous folk-pop songs.
Dekker plays music that’s ideally suited to a bit of introversion. Throughout a career that spans four albums — in this three-song set, “Everything Is Moving So Fast” and “Pulling on a Line” were both drawn from Great Lake Swimmers’ latest, Lost Channels — Dekker has developed a sterling track record for gentle ruminations on nature, beauty, conflict and the human body.
Benjy Ferree is somewhat obsessed with Peter Pan, and his great new record (Come Back to the Five and Dime Bobby Dee Bobby Dee) functions as a eulogy to child actor Bobby Driscoll, who played Peter Pan. Driscoll’s life ended in tragedy — he was homeless and dead at age 31. But Ferree’s music often has a lilt, as well as more than just hints of humor. You’ll get a good taste of that in this Tiny Desk Concert.
Sweet-voiced, bearded acoustic guitarists are not a rare commodity in the Pacific Northwest, which has spawned the likes of Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, Blind Pilot and countless others, just in the last few years. Horse Feathers‘ Justin Ringle may be the gentlest beard-wearer of them all. With a voice that high and soft, the man needs a quiet room.