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Bob Boilen's Weekly Rainbows

Every week I hear something amazing, see something inspiring and want to pass it on. These events are sometimes fleeting, sometimes iconic, but they stop me in my tracks. Bob's Rainbows is the place where I'll highlight the very best of my weekly music intake. [Editor's note: Why rainbows? They're the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can make Bob take his headphones off.]

You might see some of it pop up on the All Songs Considered Twitter account (@allsongs), myInstagram feed or our Facebook page in real time, but this will be a permanent home for the amazing rainbows in my life.


Colin Stetson at The Kennedy Center in Washington, March, 24

I saw a lot of shows on Monday evening. At the Black Cat, there was Cate Le Bon's too-short set opening for Warpaint, who gave a rhythmically solid performance. After that came Classixx, an electronic duo that set a crowd at U Street Music Hall into a dance frenzy (though I'm allergic to their particular brand of buzzy, happy synth chords). But the most astonishing thing I saw was Colin Stetson at the Kennedy Center.

There are two remarkable things about Colin Stetson. For one, the sounds he makes simply feel like they're from another dimension, or at least another planet. Second, there's the human factor. The man never seems to take a breath and there's sound always pouring out of his sax. His secret is no secret to other saxophonists; Stetson does what's called circular breathing, a technique that allows him to breath in through his nose while he blows hard on his century-old bass saxophone with his mouth.

In a world filled with electronic sound manipulation, these sounds being made by one man, a sax and his breath are primal and eerie. It's hard to figure out where they're coming from because it feels like they're coming from everywhere. Always sonically astonishing. (Here's a video of Stetson playing live at SXSW in 2011.)


"A Little God In My Hands" by Swans

One of many intense moments from the forthcoming Swans record, To Be Kind, which comes outon May 13.


John Zorn's "Briel" by Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Silk Road Ensemble

It's Yo-Yo's Playhouse! Put some of the most remarkable musicians from all over the world in a theatrical props warehouse in Brooklyn to record a song by John Zorn and you wind up with serious fun.


"I was addicted to the Hokey Pokey but I turned myself around." — Quote on a photo of a sign tweeted by Pee Wee Herman

I'm not really sure why this popped into my Twitter feed. I didn't follow Pee Wee. (I do now!) Now how do I get the Hokey Pokey song out of my head?

/ Twitter

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.