Stephen Colbert, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones & others celebrated John Prine (watch)
John Prine is being inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Thursday night (6/13) at NYC's Marriott Marquis Hotel, alongside Missy Elliott, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Dallas Austin, Tom T. Hall, and Jack Tempchin. The night before, Prine was also honored at a Downtown Music-presented tribute show hosted by Public Arts, as Variety reports. Proceeds from the event went to 826NYC, and a number of guests appeared to perform, including Stephen Colbert, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Nathaniel Rateliff, Natalie Merchant, Sara Bareilles, The War and Treaty, the Antibalas horn section, and more (Sturgill Simpson was scheduled to appear, but did not).
The concert was acoustic — there was nary a drum kit on the stage — but the set was imaginatively paced. The lyrics to one song were delivered as a poetry reading; the Antibalas horns, consisting of two saxes, two trumpets and a trombone, served up a rousing Dixieland-style rendition of “In Spite of Ourselves” and led nearly the entire audience in a singalong on the closing chorus; the constantly shifting performers — each played just one song — ensured that things stayed lively.
Colbert, who’d come straight from taping “The Late Show,” poked fun at his suit and “ready-for-TV makeup” and performed “How Lucky,” accompanied (rather shakily) on guitar by CBS News’ John Dickerson. Both of them spoke of courting their college girlfriends — now their wives — with Prine’s music. “So John Prine is responsible for two marriages!” Colbert marveled. “Even his own!”
Elsewhere, Bareilles opened the show with a moving take on “Angel From Montgomery,” Norah Jones and Richard Julian performed a stellar version of “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round,” Merchant sang a somber “Hello in There” and Rateliff delivered a stately “Sam Stone.”
Prine himself also performed, joined by Bonnie Raitt and longtime collaborator Keith Sykes. Watch a few video clips from the show below.