Andy Bothwell is a veteran at this point.
Better known by his stage name, Astronautalis, the hip hop artist and Florida native is in the midst of his third Minnesota winter after moving to Minneapolis two-and-a-half years ago.
“So the first one I had was an easy one,” Bothwell said. “Now I’ve definitely got another hard one.”
Getting used to the cold winter has been a welcome exchange for making the Twin Cities and its vibrant, welcoming music scene home for the 32-year-old musician.
With a career that carries him around the world (see: performances in Australia and New Zealand in January), Bothwell has more than settled in around Minneapolis and found a place he feels comfortable.
“Minneapolis is something special.
I had been drawn there for years,” said Bothwell, who has also lived in Washington and Texas after growing up in Jacksonville. “I’ve got a posse here, but never thought in my wildest dreams I would have been so welcomed. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived somewhere where I’m sad when I leave on tour.”
A musician long noted for his live performing prowess and freestyle flows, Bothwell has spent plenty of his career on tour over the past decade. In an industry long tied to substance abuse that has brought him face-to-face with people struggling with addiction.
“Some issues is an understatement,” Bothwell said when asked about the historical tie between the music industry and substance abuse. “I’ve had no shortage of friends that have – and continue to have – issues with it. It doesn’t make me an expert, but it makes me another person that has gone through seeing it like everyone else.”
That connection is part of what spurred Bothwell to partner with the Twin Cities-based nonprofit, To The Bridge Foundation, and its third annual benefit concert on Jan. 11 at The Garage in Burnsville.
Bothwell’s performance will headline a night of live music and raising awareness of substance abuse. All the event’s proceeds will go toward supporting To the Bridge Foundation’s mission of providing assistance to people in recovery while helping them move into the next stage of their lives.
“We’re really excited to bring some top-line artists to this year’s show,” said To The Bridge Foundation president Richard Dolski.
Barthwell’s connection with the To the Bridge Foundation came by way of the Minnesota Music Coalition (MMC), “a statewide network for independent musicians who care about creating and sustaining a vibrant popular music community.
” That partnership also brought Sims to the table as a fellow headliner.
“Really it’s a mutal partnership,” Dolski said of his group’s connection with the MMC. “They’re looking for To the Bridge to provide assistance to Minnesota musicians who are dealing with their own dependancy issues. It was a partnership that made sense for both of us.”
Sims and Bothwell paired last June for a performance at First Avenue, and Bothwell said he is looking forward to performing and addressing the issue bringing everyone together.
“Everyone is affected by this. And many people are personally, immediately affected with family and friends struggling with it,” Bothwell said. “This is a modern plague. It’s important to bring it to the forefront and remind people it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
A platform of music has allowed Bothwell to connect with audience members and listeners of his music for years, a feeling he said he has never completely gotten used to.
“I still get excited when people talk about listening to my music. That’s surreal to me,” he said. “As long as someone connects with it…that’s a thrilling thing. I hope I never get used to it.”
Bothwell said he is looking forward to connecting with the audience at the To The Bridge Foundation concert, sharing his music and raising awareness about a crucial topic in the process.
“I’m not naive enough to think I can solve the worlds’ ills, but if there’s anything small I can do to help out it’s something I want to do,” Bothwell said.
Tickets are still available for the Jan. 11 show. Pre-show tickets cost $12 on the TTB Eventbrite page and are $15 at the door.