Tiny Desk

Nathan Salsburg

Nathan Salsburg: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/151842109/151937765" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Here's what's surprising about guitarist Nathan Salsburg: He writes passionate instrumental tales about racehorses and turns them into accessibly eclectic tunes. With a brilliant debut album (Affirmed) full of intricate and melodic fingerpicking, Salsburg is likely to become one of those names we all associate with American folk guitar.

Salsburg knows something about American folk music, too: He's been an archivist at the Alan Lomax Archive, and has spent his share of time listening to and learning rare acoustic music by Rev. Gary Davis and Jelly Roll Morton. When Salsburg picks up the guitar, what comes out is a mix of blues and ragtime, but these are 21st-century rags from an old soul with new energy. He's been playing guitar for 22 years, yet he's only played out publicly for a few months.

The two tunes Salsburg plays in this Tiny Desk Concert are both inspired by great racehorses: The first celebrates the Triple Crown-winning horse Affirmed. The second, "Eight Belles Dreamt the Devil Was Dead," tells the tragic story of Eight Belles, who in 2008's Kentucky Derby tripped across the finish line, coming in second place, and tragically broke both her front ankles. The horse had to be euthanized on the field, an event documented in a few songs on Affirmed.

Set List:
  • "Affirmed"
  • "Eight Belles Dreamt the Devil Was Dead"
Credits:

Producer and Editor: Bob Boilen; Videographer: Michael Katzif; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Doriane Raiman/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Delicate Steve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar. 3, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Delicate Steve

This fierce and lyrical guitar player writes playful instrumental music led by hooky vocals — but there is no voice, just the human-like twang of a glass slide on a guitar.

Sampha performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 7, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Sampha

A Tiny Desk Concert as intimate as it gets (that's saying something). Just Sampha, a piano and three heart-wrenching songs that seem to double as coping mechanisms.

Red Baraat performs at Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 8, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Special Edition: Red Baraat's Holi Celebration

The Brooklyn bhangra band come to the Tiny Desk in celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of color that welcomes the coming of spring.

Tank And The Bangas perform perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar. 6, 2017. (Niki Walker/NPR) Niki Walker/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Niki Walker/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tank And The Bangas

Tank And The Bangas' victory lap around the Tiny Desk was momentous and deeply touching.

Maren Morris performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 16, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Maren Morris

One of the newest Grammy winners stops by the Tiny Desk to share her winking, sometimes tongue-in-cheek songs.

Ninet Tayeb performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 14, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ninet

One of Israel's most popular performers may fully win over fans of hard-playing rock.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 23, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Dirty Dozen Brass Band

To celebrate Fat Tuesday, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought their euphoric horns to the Tiny Desk for a raucous, joyous set.

Little Simz performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 23, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Little Simz

Little Simz has been compared to Lauryn Hill for her self-reflective wordplay. And though the British lyricist is a relative new-comer, her Tiny Desk performance was poised and confident.

Agnes Obel performs perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 9, 2016. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Agnes Obel

Agnes Obel brings the Tiny Desk three alluring and powerful songs.

Esme Patterson performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 1, 2017. (NPR) NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Tiny Desk

Esmé Patterson

Esmé Patterson has dropped the banjos and folk from her previous project Paper Bird, and in their place are electric guitars and a backing band worth getting behind.

Back To Top