“The Late Show” host, Stephen Colbert was on a roll all his own for the evening of April 18. He started out by offering impromptu diner dining lessons to Hillary Clinton, which provoked genuine giggles from the former madam Secretary of State, not just the politically safe chuckle used on the campaign stump. Food for the common man was a theme for the night, as it turned out, and the South Carolina native has proudly promoted his love for cultural and musical roots, so what better partner than country roots composer and troubadour, Sturgill Simpson, to collaborate on a tribute to the late-night American constant for a meal, the Waffle House, and the mix of celebration and explanation of “House rules” was a tasty hit.
A case of the munchies must have overtaken Colbert. He even mentioned pepperoni pizza in his first utterance in his opening monologue. Snacking aside, however, the host has made his show a growing platform for musical artistry across genres of Americana, country , blues, rock, and even touches of techno from time to time, from musicians who earn their credibility largely away from radio playlists, and “Next Big Thing” culture. Sturgill Simpson has been riding a wave of his own creation in gaining recognition over the past two years. His independently released albums, High Top Mountain, and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music won praise for putting country back in country, along with universal themes as opposed to pretty girls in tight jeans in front seats repetition. Stephen Colbert sought another high purpose with Sturgill Simpson for the night– to create a song worthy of the Waffle House jukebox. When asked what such inclusion would mean to him, Simpson reflected, “How do you give back to the awful Waffle?” The duo then launched into “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Knuckleheads,” with full audience support. Contrary to the tales from Kid Rock, this anthem proclaims the establishment as a “place of style and charm,” admonishing customers to “have your fun, but don’t have a brawl,” to the chagrin of many on motorcycles. There’s also a warning against the paranormal, with “no skeletons, no zombies ‘cause we don’t serve the dead,” conveniently rhyming with knuckleheads.
Sturgill Simpson stayed on for a proper introduction from Stephen Colbert for his own solo performance of “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)” from his latest album, just-released on April 15, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, already taking the number one position on iTunes, and taking Simpson on a more bluesy sonic trek.