If you are an avid National Public Radio (NPR) listener, then you should be familiar with the station's show "All Songs Considered," a weekly podcast hosted by Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, and more specifically, the program's fantastic reoccurring series, "Tiny Desk Concerts."
Available in both audio and video (but, really why wouldn't you watch the video), the show hosts some of the best artists in indie, jazz, world, hip-hop and more to perform an intimate set at Boilen's desk (hence the name) for the lucky NPR staff. Over the past couple years, that work space has had the honor of hosting performances from the National, San Fermin, Beirut and more to perform around its messy contents.
Starting at the beginning of December, the station began running its Tiny Desk Contest, requesting unsigned musicians to record an original song at a desk of their choice for submission. The winning artist/group would get to perform at that famous desk at the NPR offices. Judges include Boilen and Hilton, comedian/musician Reggie Watts and other NPR personalities and musicians.
So why did I mentioned this in a local music column? Well, it just so happens that a few Buffalo bands got in on the fun and submitted their own Tiny Desk Concerts in hopes of being the lucky selected band.
One of those acts is the newish orchestral folk outfit, Tiny Rhymes. Featuring the core duo of Sharon Mok on vocals/guitar and cellist Katie Weissman, the pair submitted a clip of its song, "The Cape," performed on Mok's piano workshop bench at UB's Center for the Arts. Keep an eye out for Weissman's dog, Emma, as the two gracefully play. Look for "The Cape" on the group’s forthcoming EP.
The next clip came from chamber pop group, Parade Chic. Led by Colin Griffin (the Atlanta Falcons, Bear Exchange), the six-piece submitted the video of "Ten Year's Time." I take it there is a desk somewhere in that crowded room. You can hear the original demo of the song at Parade Chic's Bandcamp page.
One quick submission that came to my attention right before this piece was turned in came from previous unknown singer/songwriter Andrew Kothen from Strawman (think a more playful Iron & Wine). You can check out his clip of “Moral Monsters” here.
Finally, Applennium, one of Buffalo's most reclusive and flat-out best bands, delivered a stunning rendition of "The Race," previously found on the group's 2011 self-titled EP. The video was filmed by Nate Peracciny, along with Steve Rittner on sound, outside of the band's practice space in the Harrison Radiator Building in Lockport.
“We filmed late into the night, during one of the coldest nights of the year,” stated keyboardist Chris Groves of the band's chilly yet dedicated recording experience. “It was one degree out.”
Interested in submitting your own taping. Well, submissions stopped being accepted on January 19th, so you are out of luck for this year. Sorry about that. The winner will be selected, though, on Feb. 12, so fingers crossed that one of our own gets picked.
Watch Applennium's submission of "The Race" below.
Speaking of Feb. 12, that evening, Mohawk Place will be hosting a showcase for local submitting acts, including the Observers, Tiny Rhymes, Folkfaces and Applennium, complete with desks and all. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.
Read what News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers has to say about Tiny Desk here.
Mac McGuire is the editor of buffaBLOG