I’ve listened to Tiny Desk before. In fact, whenever I run across NPR’s brief music vignette, it’s no skin off my nose to take in one of its abbreviated concerts. It’s MTV Unplugged, without the bused in crowds, the fanfare, and the pretension. Well, there’s a touch of pretension. This is music journalism after all.
Tiny Desk was created in 2008 by Bob Boilen, of All Songs Considered fame. These intimate 10 or so minute performances are recorded at Boilen’s desk in the NPR offices. The video casts reveal the eclectic, cramped, atypical setting that these mostly folky shows take place in. It really is a show, at a desk, with pens, books, laptops, and other clever distractions lurking around.
The intimacy of a Tiny Desk performance reveals how much we miss at louder, noisier venues. Between the drunk singer alonger standing on her seat in front of you and the ear plugs some of us now have to stick into our old ears, the nuance and the little things get washed away.
Recently, I was introduced to Shovels & Rope on the show, a husband and wife duo from Charleston, South Carolina. They performed a pair of songs from their album O’ Be Joyful. All in all, a pleasant afternoon distraction, and just “tiny” enough to make you want more.