If you’ve ever wondered how the popular NPR Tiny Desk Concert series came to be, you may be surprised to learn that the origins actually began at a SXSW show in 2008, when NPR Music’s Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson made a futile attempt to see a performance by singer-songwriter Laura Gibson.
After a frustrating experience trying to hear Ms. Gibson’s subdued vocals over a noisy crowd, Thompson mentioned to the singer post-show in jest that she should just come play at their desks. Three weeks later, the “joke” became a reality and Gibson showed up at NPR, ready to impart her folk-like melodies in person. Now eight years and hundreds of performances later, the series is still going strong and Gibson has the distinction of being the first artist to ever traverse the tiny desk.
This Saturday, as Gibson plans to drop her fourth record, Empire Builder tomorrow April 1 via Barsuk Records, she will once again bring her supple sounds to the DMV as she’s set to play Iota Cafe. Gibson’s been through a lot lately, having packed up all her things from Portland to move to New York for grad school, only to have her East Village apartment burned down last year. While she lost everything, the tragic event certainly provided ample fodder for storytelling and growth as a songwriter. Hear the new album’s title track, along with older effort “Where Have All Your Good Words Gone” via Spotify below.
If you’re in the DC area, we encourage you to check out the show at Iota this weekend. Who knows, maybe Boilen and Thompson will make an appearance (just try to keep your noise levels in check, please).