Great talent. Sitting in a quiet room among of attentive friends watching and listening to great talent. Watching and listening to well-done video of said great talent in the comfort of home or office. These are things that music lovers enjoy and appreciate, and thanks to a few ongoing projects, they are becoming more accessible.
One such project is the series of Tiny Desk Concerts which take place at the desk of Bob Boilen in the offices of NPR. The audience is comprised of other NPR employees, but the recording (audio and video) is of such quality that we can all enjoy. The series of shows, each called a Tiny Desk Concert, began in April of 2008, and there have been twenty-five sessions so far. I found the series after a friend sent a link to the Avett Brothers session which they recorded this past June. It is amazing to say the least. I've been browsing the other sessions, and so far, my other favorite is the Great Lake Swimmers' June 8 set. The setting is just perfect for lead singer Tony Dekker's voice. The series has quite an impressive roster of artists including Thao Nguyen, Vic Chesnutt, and Sarah Siskind. The latest session featuring The Swell Season is a little longer, thirty-four very enjoyable minutes.
Another series that has been around for quite a bit longer is the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. It's filmed at the Kentucky Theater in Lexington, KY (capacity of around 130) after starting in a local recording studio (capacity of 10). Now on show number 541, it is listened to by over 900,000 radio listeners on over 490 radio stations each week all over the world. It's a much bigger production, complete with host (Michael Johnathan) and theme song. Video of each show is captured by multiple cameras and then made available via their web site. One recent show that I really enjoyed featured Edgar Meyer on the upright bass and Chris Thile (formerly of Nickle Creek) on mandolin. An upcoming show I'm looking forward to will feature one of my new favorite bands, Those Darlins of Nashville, TN.
I discovered Those Darlins via another similar series, Lake Fever Sessions which is recorded in Nashville. While it is not filmed in front of a live audience, this series does achieve the same grand goal of bringing professionally produced videos of lesser known acts to our homes and offices on a regular basis. This series is the result of merging the talents of a recording studio crew (Lake Fever), an underground video production company (Tugboat Productions) and talented, forward-thinking artists. Their formula is defined on their web site pretty simply: