It’s a tradition as old as the Johnny Carson show: Most nights, since 1966, bands big and small play on the national stage of late night television. Sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen, but the performances are always worth watching. They’re captivating mostly because they offer the raw sound of a live band and the professional video and audio recording of a late night television show.

This week’s TV lineup reinforces the idea that has emerged over the past month: Late night shows love legacy artists. While there’s always a healthy dose of new acts in the lineup (Kacey Musgraves, Alice Russell, and Icona Pop), most of the slots are dominated by artists that are either returning for second, third or fourth albums (Ben Harper, Phoenix, Zac Brown Band, Band of Horses) or from apparent retirement (Johnny Marr, Cheap Trick, Iggy and the Stooges, who quietly released The Weirdness in 2007 and are resurfacing with Ready to Die).

Late Show With David Letterman

Monday, April 29 – Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
Tuesday, April 30 – Phoenix
Thursday, May 2 – Atlas Genius
Friday, May 3 – Kacey Musgraves

Musgraves shares tales of the trailer park on her latest album, Same Trailer, Different Park. We can only hope she brings her pink flamingo to the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Monday, April 29 – Zac Brown Band 

Straight from his headlining gig at this past weekend’s Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, Zac Brown is bringing his Southern-fried sound to Kimmel. Maybe Ashton Kutcher will even show up in support.

Tuesday, April 30 – Band of Horses
Wednesday, May 1 – Alice Russell
Thursday, May 2 – The Airborne Toxic Event 

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Monday, April 29 – The Band Perry
Tuesday, April 30 – Florida Georgia Line
Wednesday, May 1 – Cheap Trick

The classic rock band is celebrating the 35th anniversary of their At Budokan performance. And somehow still, hearing those guys play “I Want You To Want Me” never gets old.

Thursday, May 2 – Awolnation

Get the full week’s line-up at


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