A lot of talented artists pass by Bob Boilen's desk. But this was the first time that NPR Music was serenaded by a trumpet, trombone, French horn, tuba and truncated drum kit playing a Rufus Wainwright cover (and several clever originals) in rich, soulful polyphony.
It's a high compliment to suggest that these three Bill Callahan songs may well implant themselves in your brain, lay eggs and sprout horrifically disturbing dreams at that point when you're banging on the snooze alarm in a state of anguished early-morning half-sleep. Hear and watch Callahan perform at the NPR Music offices.
If you see Canadian singer-songwriter Julie Doiron perform live, you'll hear a good deal of distorted guitars and intense drumming. Well, at least when she's not performing at the NPR Music offices. It took her a few takes, but we wound up with a bare, stark and memorable set at the Tiny Desk.
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, listen to this performance in the NPR Music offices.
The classical guitarist has a wide ranging appetite for music, and plays with a clear, lyrical technique. His diverse set at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen mixes the baroque, Argentine dance, West African rhythms and a classic from Spain.
Singer Tony Dekker has a sterling track record for gentle, sweet-voiced ruminations on nature, beauty, conflict and the human body. He sheds his backing band, Great Lake Swimmers, long enough to perform three of his songs at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.
Ferree is a character with just enough charisma to draw you into his oddball world. While his subject matter is dark (his latest album revolves around a child actor whose life ended tragically), Ferree's music often has a lilt with hints of humor, as is evidenced by his 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, Blind Pilot and countless others, just in the last few years. Horse Feathers' Justin Ringle may be the gentlest beard-wearer of them all, which made him a perfect candidate to appear in NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts series: With a voice that high and soft, the man needs a quiet room.