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?