For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition and as part of our Black History Month celebration, we asked forager and wild food educator Alexis Nikole Nelson, aka Black Forager, to pick her favorites.
It is nearly impossible to watch any of Nelson's foraging videos on Instagram or TikTok without smiling and/or laughing. Nelson is a self-proclaimed wild food educator and reluctant influencer. In her short, sweet and hilarious clips, she takes us on field trips to her backyard or the forests of Columbus, Ohio to forage for wild food. She then takes us back to her home to show us how to incorporate and cook them up in the kitchen. Nelson's work highlights long-standing ties between foraging and Black history; for example, she explained on NPR's Code Switch that slaves often supplemented the scraps that were given through foraging.
In her videos, her excitement about finding something new is palpable, yet she is cautionary about consuming new wild foods for herself and others. (She typically ends her videos with the line, "Happy snacking — don't die!") She's a passionate appreciator, and that goes beyond foraging: We were glad to discover she's a big fan of Tiny Desk concerts, so naturally, we wanted to hear what her favorites are. —Maia Stern
• Run The Jewels — I don't know what Killer Mike and El-P are putting into their music (in addition to their skillful wordplay and excellent beats), but nothing gets me psyched up faster. Once I ran a 5k just listening to second track "Legend Has It" on repeat. Their banter with the NPR team during their performance is the cherry on top of a ridiculously fun Tiny Desk concert! Warning: do not listen around kids or too close to bedtime (because you might get too hype to sleep)!
• Darlingside — I discovered this group at the Nelsonville Music Festival, and fell in love with its lyricism and impeccable harmonies! Every time I listen to Darlingside I walk away so sure that buying a violin will improve my life.
• Tune-Yards — I am a sucker for loop pedals, Merrill Garbus' voice, and Tune-Yards' beautifully intricate music. This is a great watch for folks who have maybe heard songs like "Gangsta" watching Letterkenny and would like to score their life like a well-shot gas station fight scene.
• Mitski — I used to lovingly call Mitski "song-mom" (until she followed me back on Tumblr and I got embarrassed) because I honestly think her music helped guide me smoothly from college to the "real world." Her album Bury Me at Makeout Creek was the soundtrack to a tough but formative time in my life, and watching Mitski scream into her guitar at her Tiny Desk concert is never not cathartic. Her voice of "Townie" is the stuff of indie rock angst-soaked dreams.
• First Aid Kit — I was introduced to First Aid Kit in a ukulele club in college, and the group's album The Lion's Roar became the music backing late-night blanket forts and spur-of-the-moment drives to faraway places with friends. First Aid Kit is Americana perfection (even though they're from Sweden!) with harmonies that pluck your heartstrings, and the song "Emmylou" will feel nostalgic even if you've never listened to it before.
Tiny Desks In This Playlist
• Run The Jewels
• First Aid Kit