Tiny Desk Unit play the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., 1981. From left: Michael Barron, Terry Baker, Susan Mumford, Lorenzo "Pee Wee" Jones and Bob Boilen.
Tiny Desk Unit play the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., 1981. From left: Michael Barron, Terry Baker, Susan Mumford, Lorenzo "Pee Wee" Jones and Bob Boilen. Mark Gulezian
The RPM Challenge encourages bands from around the world to produce their own CD in 28 days: 10 songs or 35 minutes of original music recorded in February.
One of this year's entrants is Bob Boilen, director of All Things Considered and host of the online music show All Songs Considered. He has been making music for 25 years.
In the late 1970s and early '80s, Boilen played synthesizer with Tiny Desk Unit, a psychedelic art-rock band that he says "self-destructed" before its time.
Life circumstances and mortality have inspired Boilen, and now he is finally ready to collaborate again.
Boilen recently attended the funeral of Lorenzo "Pee Wee" Jones, a Tiny Desk Unit band mate. And when he heard about the RPM Challenge, Boilen knew what he had to do: Call up his old pal on the West Coast, Michael Barron, and start working on some songs.
They are 3,000 miles apart but have already begun composing. (You can keep track of their progress here.)
Dave Karlotski, publisher of The Wire, a weekly arts and culture newspaper in Portsmouth, N.H., is one of the organizers of the two-year-old RPM Challenge (RPM stands for "Record Production Month.")
Karlotski tells Melissa Block that RPM is not a contest — there is no "winner" — but a "creative challenge." All the songs are posted online at the RPM Web site.
Last year, the contest was just for musicians in the Portsmouth area; 165 groups submitted completed CDs. This year, the challenge is open to all musicians. So far, 1,300 groups on all seven continents have signed up.