She’s scrappy and she’s got the voice to back up her swagger.
Lindsey Jacobsen fronts the Billings-based Americana band Broken Bow. But that’s just her night gig. By day, she works as a family therapist, a job she’s proud of after earning a master’s degree at Montana State University Billings.
Earlier this month, a woman told Jacobsen that she could be a singer, too, but she wouldn’t want to quit her day job. Jacobsen couldn’t resist taking that moment to set people straight.
“I’m not ‘just’ a musician. I’m a professional young woman who knows how to work hard, play hard and follow passions. Now please, sit back and watch me run circles around you,” Jacobsen posted on her Facebook page.
That’s how Jacobsen approaches the band, too — head on. She decided that the handful of songs she’d written could use a band to plump up the sound. So she looked for a rare commodity in Billings — a lap steel player. She found one in Brian Bondietti. Jacobsen also recruited classical guitarist Bill Dickman and asked him to switch to bass, which he gladly did. Drummer Clinton Gramza rounds out the band.
Things weren’t always this simple for Jacobsen, 26. When she was still a student at Skyview High School, she started hitting open mic nights at the Garage. It’s hard to imagine now seeing the confidence Jacobsen exudes on stage, but she was intimidated just being on stage, let alone singing.
“The minute I started playing guitar I wanted to show what I could do,” Jacobsen said. “But I was so nervous when I played Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. My inspiration started when I’d see other girls singing. I’d think, ‘I can do that.’”
Broken Bow’s debut CD comes out Saturday with a release party at the Garage
Pub, where the disc was recorded live by Brad Edwards. Admission is $5 and CDs are $10. T-shirts and other merchandise will also be available.
Together not quite a year, Broken Bow evolved organically, members say.
“A good band gets to a point where you understand what to do without talking about it,” Dickman said.
One moment, Jacobsen is playing a riff on her guitar, the next bandmates are turning it into a jam that’s as satisfying as a cold IPA at the end of a disappointing day.
“I wanted to do acoustic folksy with some grit. They all agreed,” Jacobsen said. “I would say most of the songs started out as jams. Once we got started, we put the grooves in.”
One of the songs on the self-titled disc, “Lullabies,” isn’t much of a lullaby because it has such a primal undertow to it, it would scare any baby. “AM Radio” has a haunting echo that helps define Jacobsen’s throaty yowl.
“I want to let the audience decide what my songs are about,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen first collaborated with other female vocalists in a project called the Downhome Girls. While that group still gets together to practice and perform, Jacobsen is spending more time these days with Broken Bow, a name she took from her grandfather’s hometown in the Midwest.
Bondietti, who is originally from Cut Bank, said he’s played in many other bands, some very good ones. But Broken Bow is special.
“This is the band where everybody shows up for practice,” Bondietti said.
Dickman met Jacobsen when they were teaching students music through an after-school program at the Salvation Army. After studying classical guitar in college, he returned to Billings.
“Montana is due for original music being popular again,” Dickman said.
Jacobsen adds, “We don’t have to play ‘Mustang Sally’ to get shows. Billings is a place where local art is appreciated.”