Home > The Colbert Report > Better Know a Guest: June 20th – June 23rd, 2011

Better Know a Guest: June 20th – June 23rd, 2011

Hi, Hubsters!

Are you ready to move and groove? It’s MUSIC WEEK on The Colbert Report, with four very different bands to enjoy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think this has ever happened before, and it should be fabulous fun. I personally don’t expect to hear Stephen singing along with any of these groups; they don’t exactly seem his vocal style, though believe me I won’t complain if I’m proven wrong. (Maybe Florence?)  [PLEASE NOTE: WHEN I WROTE THIS I DIDN’T NOTICE THE SIDEBAR ABOUT A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE WITH THE BELLES. IT SEEMS I *WILL* BE PROVEN WRONG. AND I’M GLAD!]

It’s been quite a Stephen-worthy past week with the screenings of Company and his wonderful speech at Northwestern. I don’t know about you, but I’m inspired by his beautiful words. And it looked to me as if the students realized how lucky they were and appreciated every moment. Very gratifying to see.

Now, let’s get started!  And a-one, two, three: baton, conductor!


Monday, 6/20: Bon Iver

Bon Iver - Justin Vernon I just read an excellent article in The New York Times on this indie-folk band and its creator, Justin Vernon. Bon Iver gained a kind of cult status in 2008 with a disc called For Emma, Forever Ago, and this eponymous album is the group’s first recording since then; it’s set to be released the day after their appearance.  Their sound is a bit mystical, a touch dreamlike, and little difficult to describe. Vernon is very dedicated to his Wisconsin home and its landscape, and to me it’s almost as if you can hear the ice and snow and countryside in the music. Some have called it “hymnlike.” This glowing review in American Songwriter mentions Peter Gabriel, and I think that’s an apt comparison.

Bon Iver, as the previous recording, is produced independently, in Vernon’s own studio—a one-time veterinary clinic, transformed—although the band has since hit it big, with its songs used in the soundtracks of such mainstream films and TV shows as New Moon (Twilight series) and Grey’s Anatomy. In addition to Vernon, Bon Iver’s members include Michael Noyce, Sean Carey, and Matthew McCaughan.

And, this could mean a little Stephen fun: Vernon is close with Colbert nemesis Kanye West, having recently sung at his recent shows in New York.

Find out about their release day listening party + giveaways.
Go to this website to see a video from the band’s new recording. Or to their MySpace page for free music.
Follow them on Twitter.


Tuesday, 6/21: Florence and the Machine

Florence + the MachineBelieve it or not, I first heard this group on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, where Florence Welch + the Machine became a favorite with choreographers. She’s a London-born singer backed up by various musicians, depending on the song and the time, and she does rock, rockabilly, and soul, with a more modern, electronica touch.  Lungs, the first album, came out in 2009 to great success in England, and won a plethora of awards. Florence + the Machine also garnered a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist that year. There hasn’t been a second recording yet, although one is in production and rumored for release at the end of July. But she’s touring and appearing at such festivals as Bonaroo, and her Colbert Report appearance may have to do with her upcoming performance at Central Park’s Summerstage on June 24th.  In the past, Florence has done vocals on recordings by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

Just a bit of trivia: her mom, Evelyn Welch, is a Harvard-educated professor of renaissance studies as well as the Academic Dean of Arts at Queen Mary, University of London.

Go to the really, really good official website with a blog, news, videos, and more.

Hear her sing the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away” (also memorably covered by the Rolling Stones), made for the album Rave on Buddy Holly, celebrating what would have been his 75th birthday had he not perished in a plane accident.

Like her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.


Wednesday, 6/22: Talib Kweli

Talib KweliAnd today’s musical treat is hip-hop, from one of New York City’s leading practitioners of the genre. And I want to begin by posting some fabulous lyrics from his song “For Women,” inspired by Nina Simone.

“I got off the 2 train in Brooklyn on my way to a session
Said let me help this woman up the stairs before I get to steppin’
We got in a conversation she said she a 107
Just her presence was a blessing and her essence was a lesson
She had her head wrapped
And long dreads that peeked out the back
Like antenna to help her get a sense of where she was at, imagine that
Livin’ a century, the strength of her memories
Felt like an angel had been sent to me
She lived from nigger to colored to negro to black
To afro then African-American and right back to nigger
You figure she’d be bitter in the twilight
But she alright, cuz she done seen the circle of life yo”

Since 1999, Kweli has released more than 18 albums (five of them solo), including two in 2010, Revolutions Per Minute and Gutter Rainbows.  He and Mos Def created the group Black Star in 1998, and two years later Kweli and the producer HiTek also formed another band, Reflection Eternal.

Kweli appeared in a PepsiMax ad during the NFL playoffs at the time Gutter Rainbows came out, and he rejected any notion that he was selling out by doing a commercial. I personally like his refusal to buy into the “starving romantic artist” paradigm and his reminder that singers must make a living. These days, with so much available free, and fewer people buying, it’s worth thinking about the fact that the musicians (and writers and dancers and actors) we love need to pay the rent, too. Not very many actually become as wealthy as Kanye. Kweli should be way more popular than he is–many critics feel that he is one of the most overlooked musicians in the business–so anything that puts his name on people’s lips is fine by me.

A possible topic of discussion: Kweli’s recent Twitter feud with Fox News over the rapper Common’s invite to the White House!  Jon has made a big issue of this, resulting in some scathingly great comedy.

Just recently, Kweli announced that he plans to write an autobiography, and he’s apparently preparing a new solo album, currently called Prisoner of Conscious. The socially conscious and Afrocentric Kweli has also strived to help community, and he and Mos Def established Brooklyn’s Nkiru Center for Education and Culture.

Watch videos of Kweli: “Never Been in Love Before” and “Back Again” (with the group Reflection Eternal). Or go to his official YouTube video channel for an array of stuff to see.

Want to check out his lyrics? Try here.

Like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.


Thursday, 6/23: The Black Belles

Black BellesI admit I was not familiar with this group at all, which plays with a fun “witchy” shtick in terms of costume and imagery (at least in the one video and images I’ve seen). The four “black beauties” (well, white beauties actually—no one’s black) are Shelby Lynne, Olivia Jean, Ruby Rodgers, and Erin Belle, who formed the band in 2009. They classify themselves as garage/indie/rock, and were discovered by Jack White of the White Stripes, who also directed their first music video “What Can I Do?” There has, as of yet, been no album released. Wish I could tell you more, but their website only has one video and a link to MySpace, and anything that I google basically takes me back to the same video on various sites…and complaining fans wondering when they’re going to get more. Maybe the ladies can address this on the Report?

Go to their official site and see the video “What Can I Do?”

Visit their MySpace page, if you like, although it hasn’t had anything added since 2010. But if you’re new to them, you might find material that’s new to you.


And Now, Let’s Check in with Our Good Friend Jon Stewart!

Monday 6/20: Ray Nagin

Former mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin has written a new book, Katrina’s Secrets: Storms After The Storm (Volume One), which will be released on Wednesday.  Nagin was mayor at the time the hurricane hit, and received some criticism for his actions, although certainly the Federal government fell down badly on the job.

Buy the book at Amazon (as of posting time, Barnes & Noble isn’t listing it yet).

Tuesday, 6/21: Cameron Diaz

Bubbly actress and former model Cameron Diaz is in the newly released film Bad Teacher, starring with Justin Timberlake; this year, she also turned up in The Green Hornet.  Her many movies include The Mask, Being John Malkovich, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and the unforgettably funny There’s Something About Mary, as well as the Charlie’s Angels films. Diaz has also been one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful.

See The Bad Teacher trailer

Wednesday 6/22: Mitchell Zuckoff

In 1945, 24 people boarded the plane for what was supposed to be a flight over paradise; all that changed into horror when it crashed, leaving them stranded deep in the jungle. Mitchell Zuckoff, a professor of journalism at Boston University, recounts this fascinating true story in his new book, Lost in Shangri-La.  His previous books include Robert Altman: The Oral Biography, Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, and Choosing Naia: A Family’s Journey.

Go to his official site to learn more about this book and to buy it.

Thursday, 6/23: Andrew Rossi

Andrew Rossi is the director of the new film, Page One: Inside the New York Times, a study of life in the offices of the venerable “grey lady.” The documentary has received lots of attention for its focus on personalities in the newspaper’s offices—and the Times itself has reviewed the movie, assigning an outside critic from Bloomberg News to handle the honors . Rossi’s earlier films include Eat This New York, Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven (about the famed restaurant), and Control Room.

See the trailer for Page One.
Read an interview with Rossi.
Read The New York Times review of Page One.
Read a Huffington Post response to the Times  review.
Read an article from Media Bistro, plus a video of Rossi discussing the film.


That’s it, folks!

So–if you had your wish, what band would you really want to see on The Colbert Report? Who would you most like to hear Stephen sing with–and what song? And what band or musician who has already had the “Colbert bump” would you like to have on again?

Here’s mine: Bob Dylan, dueting with Stephen on “One More Night,” from Nashville Skyline. Also, always, Keith Richards. (Maybe they could sing “Happy” or “You’ve Got the Silver” together.) Another very personal option: the Brazilian singer/songwriter  Caetano Veloso, who could do a bossa nova with Stephen. Happiness!

And I always want Elvis Costello back, but also David Byrne.

Let me know what you think, and have a great Stephen-y week!


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  1. lockhart43
    June 20, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I do believe that Florence + The Machine is opening at the U2 concert I’m heading to next weekend, so it’ll be cool to see her in concert, and it’ll be nice to see her on TCR. I’m a fan of what I’ve heard so far out of the band, I just have never had a chance to listen to more. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Bon Iver, I have a feeling I’ll really like them. And does anyone know why the sidebar says Stephen will be performing with The Black Belles on Thursday? Because that is incredibly awesome. Music Week on the Report is such a fabulous idea! REALLY looking forward to this week!

    I almost posted this without answering your question *headdesk*. I want The Mountain Goats to come on the show again, especially since they have a new album out that is f-ing amazing. They would either sing “This Year” or “High Hawk Season” (which is off their new album) with Stephen. And Regina Spektor would be fantastic on the show; I’d say there’s a fair chance Stephen would be a fan of her music. But my favorite singer is a man by the name of Joe Purdy. I would be overjoyed if they booked him on the show, as he does hardly any TV.

    Like

    • karenatasha
      June 20, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      Hi, Lockhart,

      I have NO idea why it says “special performance!” It’s not on ColbertNation.com and it wasn’t on the Late Night site when last I looked. So maybe Katt has insider info? In any case, if this is true, it is exciting. I’m going to update my commentary.

      Yes, I did hear that Florence + the Machine would be opening for U2. I’m sorry I forgot to mention that.
      Why do I not remember The Mountain Goats? Regina Spektor would be a fabulous guest, as would Joe Purdy. People who don’t often go on shows tend to turn up on the Report, so your dream may yet come true.

      Like

      • lockhart43
        June 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        I love The Mountain Goats; they’re easily one of my favorite bands, and Stephen is single-handedly responsible for getting me into them. After they came on the show and played “Psalms 40:2” back in October 2009, I grabbed everything of theirs that I could. I know Stephen’s a big fan of theirs as well (he talked about them in the interview with DB), and it would be awesome if they came back. Their performance isn’t up on colbertnation.com any more but here is their song “Sax Rohmer #1.”

        Like

      • June 21, 2011 at 4:52 AM

        It was listed on a press release, though it may be subject to change. In any case I would find it highly unusual if Stephen had 4 musical guests on and didn’t perform with any of them.

        Like

      • karenatasha
        June 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        Thanks, Katt. I agree with you; I couldn’t imagine a week of music without Stephen personally participating. But I’d have to say that of all the bands, The Black Belles seemed the least likely to me. But now, after tonight, we know that Jack White will be there too. So that explains a little.

        Like

  2. iwaspromisedpancakes
    June 20, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    I am excited for Talib Kweli. He is a very creative and talented guy. He was the only to appear live on The Chapelle Show, he did a song “Around My Way” with John Legend, which was awesome. I have that clip saved to my hard drive and enjoy it.
    I have always been a huge Radiohead fan so it would be great to have them on. Or Morissey, I love me some Moz. I am such a typical suburbinite!

    Like

    • karenatasha
      June 20, 2011 at 9:53 AM

      Ha–but I never thought of Morrisey or Radiohead as typical suburban stuff! They seem right up Stephen’s alley.

      Love, love, love Dave Chapelle, who is rumored to have another show in the works. I can’t tell you how much I’m hoping that’s true. I really didn’t know Kweli, but in researching him, I’ve totally fallen in love. He’s fantastic–a real artist and activist.
      .

      Like

  3. colbaby
    June 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Well I’m a massive Beatles fan, so it would be a dream to see McCartney perform with Stephen. I’m thinking a duet of “Two of Us”. I’d love to see Ray Lamontagne on there, too. I don’t think I’ve heard a single song of his that I didn’t immediately fall in love with. And I hope OK GO come back at some point. I’ve been listening to Of The Blue Colour of the Sky a lot lately; not a single weak track on it which is a rarity.

    Like

    • karenatasha
      • colbaby
        June 20, 2011 at 10:15 AM

        Bwahaha! Thanks for digging that up! I loved Better Know a Beatle. I’m still hoping for a proper TCR performance though. (I think the clip you’re looking for is where they sing part of Ebony and Ivory. Ooh hey! Stevie Wonder would make a great guest, too.)

        Paul actually lives a short walk from me. Maybe I could stand outside his house with a sign asking him to do the show? *looks off to the side* I’m being told no? I shouldn’t do that? That would creepy and borderline stalkerish? Damn.

        Like

      • karenatasha
        June 20, 2011 at 10:34 AM

        Yes, Colbaby–It is “Ebony and Ivory” and it is no longer on the site. The video has been removed. Sigh.

        Oh, I’m sure Paul is used to creepy and borderllne stalkerish after all these years of Beatlemania! But still–I vote for no picketing outside his apartment. 😉

        Like

    • karenatasha
      June 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      That would be McCartney–not the others. And the clip I posted doesn’t appear to be the time they sang together — but they did! I’m still searching for it.

      Like

  4. susan209
    June 20, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Okay, I’ve been trying to come up with something and I am clearly popular-music impaired. I still keep thinking Green Day is a new band, and the only people mentioned above that I’ve heard of are Paul McCartney, David Byrne, Elvis Costello and Keith Richards. You get the idea. Oh, except I love Okay Go! Does that make me even a little hip? No? Okay, no.
    So, here’s what I came up with. It’s a stretch, I know. Elton John accompanying Stephen singing “Your Song.” Or “Daniel.” It would have to be early Elton.
    Truth be told, here’s my real musical fantasy for Stephen’s show: After he finishes with music week, he starts “musical theater week.” Four days of Stephen singing Sondheim, Rogers & Hammerstein, etc., etc.
    I know. I’m old. But that’s my musical fantasy for TCR.

    Like

    • mrarkadinnfz
      June 20, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      Don’t worry Susan. I’m with you all the way! (And no, I’m not looking though your window with a tin foil hat on reading your mind or whatever you accused me of! 😉 )
      I don’t know who any of this week’s musical guest are, and after trying to listen to that woman massacre poor Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” I don’t think I care to know.
      And musical theater week sounds great! But, I think I might prefer Rogers and Hart instead of Rogers & Hammerstein. I know R & Hammerstein had the better shows, But Hammerstein was better with Jerome Kern, IMHO. Anyway, don’t you want to hear Stephen sing “My Funny Valentine?” 🙂

      Like

      • susan209
        June 20, 2011 at 11:21 PM

        How did you know I LOVE the song “My Funny Valentine?!?” You are absolutely right! Oh. Sigh. Yes. Absolutely. But who will mop up the puddle that would become me when Stephen finishes with that song?
        Did you know there’s an old theater legend (so one never knows if it’s true, but it’s a good story anyway) that Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein’s wives were at a fancy dinner, and someone approached them and said to Mrs. Rogers, “Oh, your husband wrote Some Enchanted Evening!” To which Mrs. Hammerstein replied, “No, her husband wrote [singing] da-da-da-da-da-da. My husband wrote “Some Enchanted Evening.” I love that story. If it isn’t true, it should be.
        (And you really don’t remember the thing you said to me back on NFZ where that whole tin foil reference came from? I don’t remember it verbatim, but you responded to something I said with “I can see that you [fill in the blank — I can’t remember exactly]…” and I replied, “How can you see me? I’d better close my blinds.” To which you said, you could merely adjust the antennae on your tin foil hat. I swear, I’m not making that up!)

        Like

    • karenatasha
      June 20, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Hey, Susan–but what GUESTS would you like? Which musical theater performers.

      *Teasing* It isn’t about STPHEN! ;0 If he wants to, he can sing four nights a week with no guest. But choose a few, please.

      But you have a point about the age of the choices. Part of it has to do with what I think Stephen would sound best singing. But I’m sure if I think about it, I’ll come up with someone new.

      Re Florence: I actually like her, but she doesn’t do her best by Buddy Holly, it’s true.

      Like

      • susan209
        June 20, 2011 at 11:28 PM

        Which musical theater performers? (Monday: Stephen and me singing “Til There Was You” from Music Man. Tuesday: Stephen and me singing “If I Loved You” from Carousel. Wednesday (hmmm, we need something uptempo don’t we?): Stephen and me singing “If I Were A Bell” from Guys & Dolls. Thursday (we need to put in one of Stephen’s favorites): Stephen and me singing a compilation of songs from Sunday in the Park with George.
        Other guest? What other guest?
        Oh… alright. Let’s see. It would be fun to have Neil Patrick Harris. Bernadette Peters would be great. I’ll have to think about it. I can’t seem to undo my previous fantasy.

        Like

      • susan209
        June 20, 2011 at 11:36 PM

        Okay, I’m still thinking about musical theater performers. I know it’s a longshot, but it would be very interesting to have “Stephen” interview Barbara Streisand (who champions so many liberal causes) and then to have the 2 of them sing a duet. Oh, and how could I forget Patti Lupone? Okay, granted, she is a scene stealer (deservedly so), but perhaps they could do something light and funny. And just because I’d like to see him do it, let’s have Stephen sing “That’s All That I Want” from the musical Nine. Afterwards, I can sing “A Call From The Vatican” from the same show right at him. See? It’s got all the good Stephen-stuff. Alliteration, sex and Catholicism all rolled into one! (And yes, I did put myself back in there. Oh, well. I can dream, can’t I?)

        Like

    • karenatasha
      June 20, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      OOH, OOH: Lady Gaga! Seriously, I’d love to see Stephen with Lady Gaga. Frankly, I love her. She can really sing, she dances wonderfully, and I think she’s loads of fun.

      Like

      • susan209
        June 20, 2011 at 11:30 PM

        I’ve got to admit, Lady Gaga would be GREAT fun.

        Like

    • mrarkadinnfz
      June 21, 2011 at 1:46 AM

      I’m responding here because I can’t on your later reply to me. I just looked this up. I never said I wear a tin foil hat! You printed your Stephen-based lyrics to “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” saying Zoners are the only ones who won’t think you’re crazy. In a later post you said you read an alternate set of lyrics to your husband. Then, innocent that I am, gets dragged into this when you wanted to know why I hadn’t responded to your lyrics. I told you I had responded to your lyrics via the shout out button & assured you I like them. Then I teased you about your having read an alternate set of lyrics to your husband & worrying that WE would think you’re crazy! After thanking me for “the lovely shout out.” You wanted to know how I got “this mental image of you.” “Are you hooked up to a satellite? …better draw my curtains right now!” To which I wrote: “Actually, I think your only defense is a tin foil hat. But Shh! Don’t tell the others.”

      Like

      • susan209
        June 21, 2011 at 2:18 AM

        Well, okay then. *Head bowed in shame*
        Anyway, I don’t look particularly good in a hat.
        (I hope you weren’t seriously upset by any of this. That would be awful!)

        Like

      • susan209
        June 21, 2011 at 2:22 AM

        And yes, now I remember it exactly. You said you had something like a mental image of me reading that lyric to my husband, at which point (tongue planted firmly in cheek) I asked how you got that “mental image of me,” and I said that I’d better “draw the curtains (Okay, they were curtains! Not blinds!)
        I am turning 50 in September. Please have sympathy if my memory is slipping a little.
        Are we friends?

        Like

    • mrarkadinnfz
      June 21, 2011 at 2:38 AM

      Oh no,no no! I’m not upset at all! We’re friends to the end! 🙂

      Like

      • susan209
        June 21, 2011 at 4:54 AM

        Thank goodness! (And thank goodness the “end” is not in sight!)

        Like

  5. lockhart43
    June 20, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Here’s another thought, after reading the bit about Talib Kweli: I would love it if they booked Mos Def on the show. The closest he’s come was when Gorillaz came on and sang “Stylo,” but it was only the recording of his voice added into the song; he couldn’t be there to sing it in person. He is just eternally cool to me and I’m sure it’d be a great interview.

    Like

  6. lockhart43
    June 22, 2011 at 3:44 AM

    A bit of an update on the Jack White situation, from Consequence of Sound:

    Jack White‘s history with Conan O’Brien is well documented, but it will be another late night titan who will feature the Third Man Records CEO and his label this week. According to his label’s website, White and Third Man will be featured in a “number of segments” on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report beginning Tuesday, June 21st. Stephen Colbert filmed said segments at the Nashville-based Third Man, and the label’s Black Belles will perform on Thursday Night, but other than that, what exactly we’ll see remains unclear.

    Like

    • mariana312
      June 22, 2011 at 7:17 AM

      I hope I’m not making this up but I think I read a taping reporT or something where Stephen had said he recorded a new Charlene song in Nashville. Other people know what I’m referring to right?

      Like

      • lockhart43
        June 22, 2011 at 8:05 AM

        Yes! Well remembered! That was a recent taping reporT if I remember right. Maybe he recorded it at White’s recording studio and they’re going to air it this week? Yes? Please? Pretty please? They won’t give us a Toss; the least they could do is give us Stephen singing a new Charlene tune.

        Like

      • susan209
        June 22, 2011 at 8:08 AM

        Does anyone know whether “Charlene” has a basis in reality? Or do you suppose “she” is a composite of women Stephen has known in general? (Or just a fictional fantasy, perhaps?)

        Like

    • karenatasha
      June 22, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Lockhart and Mariana, thanks for the update on Jack White and the “Charlene” taping. This is really whetting my appetite for Thursday night! Should be loads of fun.

      Like

  7. carolineny
    June 22, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    I just saw Talib Kweli give a free concert tonight in Brooklyn. If you like intelligent rappers, you should like him.

    Talib mentioned the Colbert Report and said he’d be doing “Gutter Rainbow”. Here’s the song, if you’re curious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaQBD1EVAUk

    Like

    • karenatasha
      June 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      Carolineny–I am really looking forward to seeing him! I knew he was doing the show, but couldn’t get out there. Was it wonderful?

      Like

  8. carolineny
    June 23, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Yes, he was very good. The concert was a pain to get to though cause the MTA has closed the nearest subway stop for the whole summer! So it was a long hike to Red Hook park. Looking forward to hearing Talib perform again tonight. Should be an interesting interview too.

    Like

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