Savannah Stopover preview #1: Genre-bending Astronautalis

This is the first of periodic posts about acts scheduled for the Savannah Stopover festival in March 2011. The Stopover hasn’t released its full schedule yet, but Astronautalis appears booked with the rap act Sims for The Wormhole on Thursday, March 10th.

Before I get sidetracked by a bunch of blah blah blah, let’s get right to the official music video for the addictive “The Wondersmith and His Sons”:

That just gets better and better every time I listen to it.

FWIW, Eyeball Records, which released the 2008 album Pomegranate, calls Astronautalis “part underground back-pack hip hop artist, part folk singer, and constant raconteur.” But the first time I heard “The Wondersmith and His Sons,” I was reminded of “Nemesis” by Shriekback, one of the more vital acts of the British new wave(ish) movement of the 1980s.

I’m not much of a purist when it comes to music — or to anything else for that matter. I like art that provokes, that challenges, and that pushes genre boundaries.

Time for another musical interlude. Here’s the strangely campy video “Trouble Hunters”:

Astronautalis is Andy Bothwell, raised in, of all places, Jacksonville. (You know, the major city in Florida that people in Savannah never visit and never talk about.) As a younger artist, Bothwell’s focus was freestyle rap.

Here’s “Meet Me Here Later,” live:

NPR calls Astronautalis “a sort of avant-garde rapper.” Here’s their profile along with NPR’s Sept. 23, 2008 Song of the Day “The Story of My Life” (a bit reminiscent of Tom Waits in the opening moment):

Astronautalis is now based in Seattle, but we’ll catch him — just as the Stopover idea promised — as he works his way down the East Coast on his eventual way to SXSW in Austin. Right after he leaves Savannah, he has three scheduled gigs with Sims in Florida. None are in Jacksonville.

He did, however, visit and perform in Jacksonville in December. Here is a great profile in his hometown newspaper.