Our 2018 Tiny Desk Contest On the Road tour brought us incredible musical discoveries in every city we visited. Year after year, this Contest would be nothing without our dedicated community of creators from every state. We couldn't feature all these artists on our one (short) tour, but luckily, plenty of NPR Member stations from across the country produced their own events featuring some of their local Contest favorites — so we asked them to recap their shows for us. You can read about some of them below.
KCUR - Kansas City, Mo.
We had our "NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest: The Best of KC" show a week after Naia Izumi was crowned the Contest winner. We were lucky to have so many wonderful submissions from our region with such great sounds and stories. After going through all the submissions, folks from KCUR Generation Listen and our arts and culture reporters collectively decided which acts they would ask to play the show: Second Hand King & The Lovers, Una Walkenhorst, Blue False Indigo and Soul Revival. We had a local bar and pub close off their parking lot to create an outdoor stage — and had amazing attendance on one of the hottest days in May. What came together was a KCUR and NPR Music tiny festival of local talent and made for a great celebration. —Michael Russo, KCUR
WBHM - Birmingham, Ala.
On July 6, WBHM hosted "DESKOVERED: Live Music from Tiny Desk Contest Entrants" at Saturn, a popular music venue here in the city. The lineup was purposely eclectic: Early James and the Latest (Americana), The Old Paints (rock), Jacobs McBride (rock), Weird Around Strangers (jazz) and 2 of 3 (pop). The event was a total sell-out. Everyone was engaged and energetic, cheering and dancing and by all accounts really enjoying the show. The room was filled with new faces. We've been gratified by calls and emails asking us when we're going to do it again. The answer? Next year! —Audrey Atkins, WBHM
KUAR - Little Rock, Ark.
Tiny Desk Arkansas was a lively event held at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack in downtown Little Rock. It featured funk, rock and jazz music from three area bands who entered the Contest: Dazz & Brie (a self-described "a rock 'n soul woman-fronted duo & band that combines acid rock instrumentation with funky and soulful melodies), Black Horse (a progressive surf-punk rock band, who performs with an electric energy influenced by the '60s) and Monsterboy (a husband and wife duo from Little Rock, who combine smart, original vocals with a powerful sax). A highlight of the show was that, despite a flight mishap, Dazz & Brie made it to the event! As they were travelling back from New York to Little Rock the day of the concert, their flight was cancelled so they quickly made new plans to get there. The audience cheered as they rushed on stage and began their act. They were ready to rock! —Vanessa McKuin, KUAR
KWMU, St. Louis, Mo.
St. Louis Public Radio organized our third "Tiny Desk STL Happy Hour" this year. Out of with 30 local acts who entered the Tiny Desk Contest from the St. Louis metropolitan area, voters chose their three favorites: jazz- and '80s pop-influenced singer songwriter Paige Alyssa; soulful, roots musicians River Kittens; and electronic rock duo Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship. The top vote-getters, River Kittens, headlined the concert held in April at a bright and modern rooftop venue, just down the street from the station. Energetic and engaged, the audience danced and swayed that night and cheered with positive comments to the station the next day. —Madalyn Painter, KWMU
WMFE, Central Florida
This year, more than 30 bands and solo acts from central Florida entered the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest. To celebrate these talented musicians, WMFE ran its own friendly competition for listeners to choose local favorites. Thousands of votes later, five acts rose to the top. The top three – Holy Human, John Korbel and CeCe Teneal & Soul Kamotion – performed at WMFE's ZipOde Throwdown, the station's annual zip code poetry event. Each of the top five acts was also featured in its own segment on WMFE's local public affairs show, Intersection (you can check out the the segments here). —Jenny Babcock, WMFE