NPR logo Concert at Bob's Desk: Laura Gibson

Concert at Bob's Desk: Laura Gibson

I love the delicate voice and songs of Laura Gibson. We featured her music on All Songs Considered back in 2006. But when NPR Music producer Stephen Thompson and I went to see her perform at SXSW, we were bummed. We couldn't hear Laura sing — her hushed voice was completely drowned out by the chatter of the crowd.

I had spent much of SXSW recording musicians in unconventional settings: Lightspeed Champion on a lawn, Jaymay on a porch, She and Him in a living room, and My Morning Jacket's Jim James at a church concert.

When Laura Gibson stepped off stage, Stephen told her the sad news that hardly anyone beyond about the third row could hear her. Given that I'd been recording all these artists, and given that he'd just heard yet another quiet artist drowned out by lousy sound and a noisy crowd, Stephen invited Laura to visit NPR and play a more personal concert, only half-jokingly suggesting that she play "at Bob's desk."

She said she would, and about a month later — while in town to open for The Decemberists' Colin Meloy — she showed up at NPR with her guitar, sat behind my desk, and played.

Could this be the start of a series? What do you think?



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Hey if they can do it in the back of a taxi cab, I don't see why not.

Sent by Jason Viola | 4:29 PM | 4-18-2008

Bob you introduce me to another great singer. This would be a great series. Thank you!

Sent by Ned Meier | 4:28 PM | 4-19-2008

This would be a wonderful series. Up close and personal with singer/songwriters. Inspiring!

Sent by Mo Cory | 5:20 PM | 4-19-2008

A better series is if you let the artists play at MY desk. Or, I won't be greedy, just let me pick one to play at my desk (Glen Hansard?) and then others can have their turns.
If it does stay in your office, I think there should be an online "I Spy" sort of contest where we see how many indie, retro or Jens Lekkman (spelling?) posters, albums and ephemera we can find. Finally, I'd like to hear more of her music--thanks!

Sent by Tom EG | 5:45 PM | 4-19-2008

Needs a laser show! Where do I buy glow sticks?

Not really. That's just lovely; what a treat.

Sent by Linda | 10:37 PM | 4-19-2008

Now you're at least picking up some of the superficial aspects of Post-Bands music. She is not a band, she is playing a standard guitar, no electricity. So she is back-to-basics - that soulful part of popular music.
But post-bands takes it further. Each song has both the melody and passion here, but it also has rhythm! That's what made rock and roll so much more popular than folk -the beat.
Then there is the attitude - if she were true post-bands she'd tell you off! I would... something about clueless.....
With more beat, more attitude, we might be getting a clue about the new music that's dumping the boring.
PS Daisy May (which is actually - god forbid - a band does all that this performer does - and not to take away from her abilities - does it about 10 times better IMO. IF you are stuck in the 'band'wagon then at least get the best in the rut.

Sent by Tom Hendricks | 10:38 PM | 4-19-2008

This is great. Having this as an ongoing series would be even greater.

Sent by Josh | 11:30 PM | 4-19-2008

Such a sweet way to begin! I love its simplicity. Mark Olson, Laura Veirs, Liam Finn, and Jeremy Enigk (Guest DJ?) are passing through the area in the coming months; I'm sure they'd dig this.

Sent by jehan | 2:48 AM | 4-21-2008

Wonderful show idea, her fragile voice and unassuming posture mingling perfectly with the lo-fi setup. A wonderful link for all non-standard concert venues is a French site,, with names such as Arcade Fire playing in an elevator, Andrew Bird fiddling down a Parisian street, and Sufjan Stevens on top of a building.

Sent by Matthew Bradford | 11:25 PM | 4-21-2008

Portland, OR loves Laura Gibson. I want to see Colin Meloy do a song in the janitor's closet though.

care to explain or expand on this?

Sent by Aaron | 11:52 PM | 4-22-2008

I guess my thought is why limit a concert to an office? And why not juxtapose the intelligent songwriting of Colin Meloy with an assortment of mop handles and floor cleaner? You may be able to get some nice dampened acoustics in a closet too.

All kidding aside, I do love it when artists DON'T get the support of nice concert venue soundboards and speakers. It's intimate and *should* reveal more about their musicality.

Sent by Aaron | 4:07 PM | 4-25-2008

I think it's a wonderful idea. Why not? You do all your work in the office and such a clandestine and intimate setting is perfect.

Sent by Elise | 6:24 AM | 5-5-2008

What a fabulous way to affirm great musicianship! She is wonderful and are always smart, thoughtful and cutting-edge.
I love the idea of NPR office concert series. Maybe a local member station competition???

Sent by Malissa w/ Try Me Bicycle music | 3:31 PM | 5-8-2008

When I heard Laura Gibson's 'Freight Train' on your podcast, I immediately thought: Jolie Holland. I haven't heard much of this Laura character, but from what I can tell, she's a duller version of Holland. Jolie Holland's songs have more haunting, off key notes and interesting weird noises in the background. But I think you introduced me to Jolie Holland, a few years ago, so I can't complain. Maybe I just need to give Laura Gibson a chance.

Sent by Laura Whigham-Trouv?? | 4:37 PM | 5-12-2008