All Songs At 15: Our First Ever Tiny Desk Concert

 (Will Marsh)
(Will Marsh)

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a personal memory about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:

Now that we've announced the winner of our Tiny Desk Concert contest (who will soon get to play at Bob Boilen's desk), we thought we'd use this week's Throwback Thursday to remember the very first Tiny Desk Concert we ever did. The year was 2008 and the inaugural artist was Laura Gibson:

We had no idea what we were doing. You'll notice the shelves behind Laura are nearly bare. We'd just had those put in to hold all the CDs we get. You'll also notice the video quality is pretty raw. NPR Music didn't even have a video team back then or fancy lighting. Bob set up the cameras himself. In fact, NPR Music itself had only been around for about five months.

After seven years and an extended game of telephone, the story of how the whole Tiny Desk series has been told many ways. But the truth is very simple: NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Bob tried to see Laura Gibson at a bar in Austin during South By Southwest. But it was crowded and noisy and they had an impossible time hearing her. So after the show, Stephen joked to Laura that she should just come play at their desks. (A lot of our best ideas start as jokes). But Laura is a good sport and said she was totally up for it, all joking aside. Three weeks later she showed up at NPR. (Remember me talking about the importance of saying "yes"? If Laura had said "no" there probably wouldn't be a Tiny Desk Concert series).

Though no one here can remember who, exactly, came up with the name (pretty sure I came up with the name), it's a take on the band Bob was in in the late '70s called Tiny Desk Unit.

We weren't sure whether Laura's appearance would turn into a series. In fact, a couple of months passed after her performance before we brought in our second artist, the late Vic Chesnutt. But here we are, seven years and hundreds of Tiny Desk performances later and going strong.

We have no idea how long this series will last, but watching our favorite musicians give unadorned, honest and intimate live concerts could never grow old.

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