Sturgill Simpson brought an expanded band to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last night, blasting through “Brace for Impact (Live a Little)” — the first single from his newest release, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth — with help from a three-piece horn section.
It wasn’t his only performance of the evening. Earlier in the episode, the show’s host called Simpson to the stage to help sing a very different number. “As a South Carolinian, I’ve spent many a night in a Waffle House,” began Colbert, who went on to explain his dream of landing a waffle-centric country song on a tabletop jukebox at Waffle House. With Simpson playing acoustic guitar and Jon Batiste’s house band kicking up some syrupy twang in the background, the pair then kicked into “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Knuckleheads,” running down the proper rules of Waffle House etiquette over a humorous honky-tonk beat. “These are world-famous waffles, son / Let’s show some respect,” Simpson sang at one point, cracking a smile before a straight-faced Colbert took his own verse.
Minutes later, Simpson joined the rest of his band for his own “Brace for Impact.” Colbert clearly wasn’t done with the jokes — “You may know my next artist from his work at Waffle House,” he told the crowd by way of introduction — but Simpson’s band was focused and fiery, now equipped with two electric guitarists, three horn players, a keyboardist and a reshuffled rhythm section that still includes Simpson’s longtime drummer, Miles Miller.
After performing tonight at Rough Trade NYC, Simpson and company will head back home to prep for a spring tour, the first three shows of which are already sold out.