Farah Sosa / NPR
After the winner of the Tiny Desk Contest claimed the grand prize, playing a real Tiny Desk concert, NPR Music takes them on tour across the country. This year’s Tiny Desk Contest On The Road tour was a victory lap for 2022 winner Alisa Amador, who was welcomed by thousands of new fans and also showcased local talent in Washington, DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Los Angeles and New York as three contest entrants performed alongside Amador every night.
The tour started between Washington DC – the home town of Bob Boilen’s Tiny Desk – with an eclectic lineup of local artists. Everyday Everybody kicked off the night with an energetic set; Outerloop kept the energy high by performing his loud, invigorating and cathartic songs; and 2021 Competition winner NEFFY put on a breathtaking acoustic performance, including a version of her Competition-winning song, “Wait Up”.
In Atlanta, O’She Tyght kicked off the show with soulful rap songs, Alto Moon brought the warmth with his stage set and stunning voice, and Yah Yah and his crew staged a groovy R&B performance that got the whole crowd dancing.
Josephine Figueroa / NPR
In Seattle, Halley Greg and his band played a handful of what they called “feminist blues rock songs”. Then, in Helmer Noel’s first ever live concert, she dazzled the audience with her exquisite voice and natural stage presence. And Ollella put on a moving performance with her impressive looped cello.
In Los AngelesYosmel Montejo and his band kicked off the night with a lively set, and also delivered an inspiring message to the audience: “We all came here for a dream. Don’t give up. Try it.” Jack Rabbit took to the next stage, performing songs about heartbreak, friendship and weird joy. And Pocket Queen closed the night, wowing the crowd with a skilful, drum-packed performance.
Amador and his band gave cheery and jazzy performances throughout the tour, provoking celebratory encores and standing ovations from fans who fell in love with his heartfelt lyrics and beautiful melodies.
Itzel Alejandra Martinez / NPR
In the end, the tour ended with a night to remember New York. For the first time ever, a handful of Contest winners performed as part of the same lineup at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park. Amador kicked off the evening by getting comfortable on the largest stage she has performed on so far. Then, 2020 New York native Linda Diaz took the stage to play her wonderful R&B songs. Subsequently, Seratones (one of the many past entrants who, despite not winning the Contest, continued to play at the Tiny Desk) took over and rocked the park. And for the grand finale, our first Contest winner and three-time Grammy winner Fantastic Negrito gave an incredible performance, playing the song he won the Contest with and some selections from his new album, White Jesus Black problems.
What was really special for us, besides watching all their amazing live sets, was seeing these artists supporting each other – each artist shouted at the others from the stage, congratulated this year’s winner and raised the Contest and their local music communities every evening.