Monday, June 26, 2006

Tiny Desk Unit

tiny desk unitTiny Desk Unit were a group of people that got together in the Summer of 1979 and made some music in Washington D.C. Sometimes it was good. Sometimes it wasn't. But sometimes it was really, really great. They played live at the 9:30 club. Rehearsed in the basement. Made their first live recording there. Practically lived there. Might have died there. They also recorded an independent E.P. (All of it and more can be found here.) Drugs, apathy and alcohol were the bands undoing.

Tiny Desk Unit were:
Susan Mumford - vocals
Michael Barron - gutiar
Bob Boilen - synth
Chris Thompson - drums
Terry Baker - bass

Bob Boilen has written an extensive history of the band at his site. Now he's a a host at NPR.

Go to the download page to get Tiny Desk Unit - "Cous Cous"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is probably the very last band I'd ever expect to find here. I saw them several times at dc space and loved 'em. Think I saw them at 9:30 too, but I didn't become a regular there (I mean, like, EVERY night)until the mid-80s. And you posted my favorite TDU song - Cous Cous. Amazing. Thanks for the memories....

Now, how about some Bloody Mannequin Orchestra? :)

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a pleasant surprise!
I was a founding member of Tiny Desk Unit.
I am in the process of resurecting old tapes (literally baking them in an oven so the back coating doesn't flake off) and posting them to my web site.
I have full video performances and unreleased studio and live recordings.
Thanks for mentioning us. All the band members are still alive and well.
I still make my own brand of electronic music and post that on my site
I direct NPR's All Things Considered and have for the past 17 years.
I started a music show for NPR online called All Songs Considered. the great irony is that we are webcasting shows, from the club that Tiny Desk Unit played at, the 9:30 club.
feel free to write me with memories or questions

8:39 AM  
Blogger Dumbek said...

Holy Cow. What a treat. These guys were great. Extra thanks for the pointer to Bob's site!

I'd also like to second the recommendation for some Bloody Mannequin Orchestra :-)

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Susan Mumford's voice is very cool indeed.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy cow, someone else beat me to requesting some Bloody Mannequin Orchestra!

i'm curious about this "baking cassettes" to preserve them? because i've got some BMO/WGNS cassettes that i'm dying to find a way to burn on to cd....

sarah woodell, formely of DC

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, that would be me requesting BMO. I'm also formerly of DC. Saw BMO open for Einsturzende Neubauten at the old 9:30 and loved 'em. The other opening band was my friend Jared's one-night-only band Morgue One. Sigh, the old days....

Scott, formerly of DC and a 9:30/dc space habitue

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BMO played my backyard:

Scott: email me directly

Someday I'll find one of my photos of Jared/scan/post. I still have the book of poetry he put out!

If you feel like jogging your memory of name to a face: look at Banned in DC (the book) and I'm one of the contributing photographers. Cheers!

9:34 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

I regret that I was a little too young , by a hair or two, to catch Tiny Desk Unit back in their heyday. But they regrouped for the old 930 Club's grand finale on New Year's Eve (1995?) and they were great.

Regarding BMO, I put together a semi-tongue-in-cheek history of the band here. Enjoy. :)


10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Updated site for free Tiny Desk Unit downloads.
music movies etc.


Bob Boilen
the music i make now can be heard here

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool. I love this site! DC was a pretty good scene in the early days, though it was no New York, but lots of good music, lots of fun.
Does anybody remember the likes of REM (w/Sue Berg), The Velvet Monkeys, Urban Verbs, The Atlantis club (later the 9:30 club),

2:25 PM  
Blogger Cokinos said...

See Tiny Desk Unit @ the dc Space reunion/benefit for Tom T- this Sunday, July 29th at the 9:30 Club

Details at

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site - thanks! Though I am of the Woodstock generation I really welcomed punk. Used to go up to DC to hear punk/New Wave bands - heard the B52s, Insect Surfers, Tom Verlaine, Jonathan Richman. Never heard TDU or Urban Verbs tho Roddy Frantz was at the Verlaine gig, all bummed out about the bad review in the New York Rocker. I wish I'd gone more often. It's great that these guys are still making music.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great site - thank you! I used to go up to DC back in the day. Georgetown was kind of like Greenwich Village in those days, though 9:30 wasn't in Georgetown, I don't think. Great to hear that these guys are still making music. Never heard TDU but I saw an article about them in the Times and a friend of mine knew a member or two, or so I seem to recall. Keep it up, gang!

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I heard TDU play at Glen Echo park in late 1979. It sounded rather experimental at the time, but still quite good. I remember the announcer saying "next up, the yet to be recorded...Tiny Desk Unit". ~Marty Quire formerly of Fairfax, VA

12:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I lived on the roof of 930 Fst NW from Spring of 1976 thru the beginning of 1979. I managed the 918 as well the 930 Bldgs on F street, A Carry Out and The Atlantis Restaurant.
I co-owned the Atlantis Nightclub and booked the bands. Paul Parsons owned the building and drove everyone nuts.
The Urban Verbs had a scene of their own and always drew a crowd. Roddy Frantz could hold a room.
The Slickee Boys, The D'Ceats with Martha Hull, Razz,
were just a few of the local bands that played there. Lots of out of town bands from CBGB's, The Hot Club from Philadelphia, and many other cities called to play there.
The reason the Atlantis closed was Paul Parsons sold the Bldg to John Bowers and didn't get a lease for the club as promised. Paul really did not like that Club.
I closed the Atlantis on my 30th birthday. NB,JB,N.C. to avoid being on a month to month lease. NB -No Band
JB -Juke Box
NC -No Cover
January 13th 1979 The Club was packed SRO

When Dody Bowers (DiSanto) opened as the 9:30 Club she had a line-up at the doors and the phone started to ring off the hook.
WGTB,WHFS, The Atlantis, D.C. Space and the 930 Club. What a great time and place.
Kevin Duplain
Mgr/Co-owner of The Atlantis
930 Fst NW Washington, D.C.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Natasha Reatig said...

An absolute favorite - band and the people in it! They played my 'Up All Night' party at DC Space in 1979 (maybe 1980?) and I was a fan always...
still am, in fact~!

3:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Natasha Reatig
Never met a better dance partner. She could fly! All you needed to do was give her fuel!

2:20 PM  

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