Watch: Nathaniel Rateliff performs on "Saturday Night Live"

On a well-reviewed if sleepy episode, Denver singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff made his “Saturday Night Live” musical debut by playing new solo single “Redemption,” followed by the rollicking Night Sweats song “A Little Honey.” The Feb. 13 appearance, which featured Rateliff, his backing band the Night Sweats and a trio of backup singers (on “Redemption,” at least), cemented the barrel-chested blues revivalist as Colorado’s biggest musician of the moment.

The timing at first seemed like a promotional win for Rateliff, who wrote and recorded “Redemption” for the new Justin Timberlake movie, “Palmer.” That drama debuted on Apple TV on Friday, Jan. 29, handing Rateliff at least half of his two-song “SNL” setlist.

But Timberlake became a subject of controversy last week as the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary prompted soul-searching and critiques of the misogynistic culture of ’90s pop music, including past actions by Timberlake that many saw as demeaning to women. Timberlake apologized publicly, though he never specifically said what actions he was sorry for, casting a shadow over his new film.

Rateliff, who’s only tangentially related to Timberlake, made out the best, getting the “SNL” slot without being directly associated with any of the controversy.

“Watchmen” breakout star and director Regina King hosted. Rateliff is one of only a handful of Coloradans to grace “SNL” — including recently promoted cast member Bowen Yang, who grew up in Aurora. — and The Lumineers, who bowed on the show on Jan. 19, 2013, in an episode hosted by Jennifer Lawrence.

RELATED: Bowen Yang, “Saturday Night Live’s” first Chinese-American cast member, is from Denver

Along with The Lumineers, Rateliff last year brought attention and support to state-specific fundraising concerts, including for the Colorado Music Fund, with Dave Matthews. Between April 1 and July 31, 2020, Colorado’s statewide music industry lost 8,327 jobs and $344.6 million in sales revenue, a Denver Arts & Venues report estimated, representing 51% of total employment statewide and 24% of the state industry’s annual revenue.

Rateliff has played a number of high-profile shows over the years, from opening sets for The Rolling Stones to nearly every late-night talk show and festival in the English-speaking world. In September 2020, he told The Denver Post that a third Night Sweats album was in the works for 2021.

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