- Mort Goldstein, Jazzbeat Magazine
The Astronauts got their start in 1997, originally billed as a downstate college band "dedicated to the promotion of space-age bachelor pad music." Instantly comfortable in a softly lit cocktail lounge or clubhouse, The Astronauts quickly became a local favorite amongst Martini-swilling university-age hipsters, as well as baby boomer professors old enough to remember the Cold War firsthand. While enjoying a variety of gigs on the college circuit, The Astronauts first made a name for themselves by becoming the house band for "Martini Monday," a weekly exercise in Atomic Age nostalgia at Shannon Sherwood's famed Friends and Co. tavern. They recorded their first CD, "Kookie's Mad Pad," in the fall of 1998.
Today, The Astronauts are comprised of veteran musicians from the original group, as well as some wonderful new Chicago-area talent. The primary focus of the band still involves a sonic emphasis that is rooted in late 1950s/early 1960s American pop culture (think of a Maynard G. Krebs/George Jetson hybrid, with just a touch of nasty R & B). However, to say that The Astronauts are a self-consciously hip "retro" act would be misleading. Although the group demonstrates a keen and reverent ear for the mature sounds of years past (the kind of stuff often found on discounted garage sale records), the freshness of bandleader Jon Kostal's postmodern arrangements, coupled with the high-energy excitement generated by the group's soloists, is uniquely suitable for the most contemporary dancing and listening tastes.
So, leave your irony at the door. Put simply, this is not your father's lounge band.