Singer-songwriter finds right mix of work, family, music


Lindsey Jacobsen and her band, Sinless, will perform as part of a video-release party on March 22 at Art House Cinema & Pub.

Lindsey Jacobsen loves playing music, loves it so much that she doesn’t want it to become a job, something she’d have to leave Billings to pursue.

“I care too much about the people in my community and my family and friends,” she said. “And I’ve got it really good right now.”

Part of what makes it so good is that she and her husband, Chase Suchy, are expecting a baby in mid-May, and she’s working as a licensed clinical professional counselor at the Center for Children and Families, a job she enjoys.

But she’s still enjoying music, too, and on March 22 she and her band will be performing from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Art House Cinema & Pub, 109 N. 30th St. They will also be showing her new music video, “Need To Be Mine.”

Suchy and Wes Urbaniak helped record the song, which Jacobsen described as “a ridiculously cute song” that she wrote on a tenor ukulele made for her by Urbaniak. Pete Tolton shot and produced the video.

Her band, Lindsey Jacobsen and Sinless, formerly Broken Bow, consists of Brian Bondietti on lap steel and lead guitar, Clint Gramza on drums and Bill Dickman on bass. Kelly Descheemaeker, and old friend of Jacobsen’s who recently moved back to Billings, has been joining the band on violin.

Jacobsen and the band have about two hours worth of original material. She said she wrote the words to all the songs and got help from the band with some of the melodies.

In describing her style of music, Jacobsen, 28, described it as the kind of music she likes to hear: “I really like music that is relaxing to listen to on a road trip but is also contemplative and has some surprises.” She said someone once characterized her music as “brooding Americana.”

As a kid she loved The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Other inspirations were Sheryl Crow and Fiona Apple.

Jacobsen moved to Billings from Nebraska when she was 9. She studied classical piano for 10 years starting when she was 8, and she remembers one of her teachers telling her she played very emotionally but that wasn’t particularly good at keeping time with the metronome.

She got her first guitar when she was 16, and the first song she sang in front of other people—her parents and grandparents—was “The Day That I Die” by Good Charlotte.

After listening to her sing, her father gave her some advice that she has followed ever since: “If you’re going to do something, do it loud.”

She said she started writing songs right away, but “looking back at it, it was all kind of teen-agey and dark.” These days, she said, she has a thing for “creepy minor chords,” and some of her new material has a Neil Young sound to it.

She honed her skills playing lots of open-mike nights at the Garage Pub at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., and at 18 she was in a band, Strange Brew, with local guitar legend Steve Melia. They played at Rockin’ the Rivers Music Festival in Three Forks and opened for Too Slim and the Taildraggers at the Magic City Blues Festival.

She played with Strange Brew for a couple of years and continued to perform on open-mike night at the Garage. Chuck Bishop, who usually ran the sound those nights, liked her music and paved the way for her to start opening as a solo act for local and touring bands.


Scott Wagers

Lindsey Jacobsen and Sinless perform at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co.’s Garage Pub.

She later formed a band, Redlight Blue, with Scott Waddington on lead guitar, Devin Kennedy on drums and Steve Hutchinson on bass. Another project she was involved in represented an advance in her musical and personal ideas.

“I spent so much time in the early stages being jealous of other girl musicians,” she said, but as she matured she realized mutual respect and collaboration made a lot more sense.

That led to an informal group called Downtown Girls. In addition to Jacobsen, it featured Jessica Geribay, Justine Marie, Dallas Martin and, later on, Krystal Hudak, all of them singer-songwriters.

With the Downtown Girls, Jacobsen said, “I really loved exploring harmony parts. I’d never done that before.”

Her current band mates, meanwhile, are all older than she and bring lots of experience to the table. Bondietti started playing lap steel because Jacobsen wanted that sound, and Dickman, the bass player who is also a classically trained guitarist, has helped her stay out of ruts and sharpen her songwriting.

“It’s amazing what this town has done for me,” Jacobsen said.

By the way, the band’s name, Sinless, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Jacobsen said they chose the name because “we are our souls, our spirit, and souls cannot sin.” The Hebrew word for sin translates as “missing the mark or missing the point,” she said, and “the point is to be present and mindful in all you do. To not be blind to yourself.”

She and the band are close to being done with an album of original songs, but Jacobsen doesn’t want to push that project right now.

“I’m not going to stress myself out by having a baby and trying to put a CD out,” she said. “This (the Art House Cinema show) might be one of the last shows before the album-release party and the baby is born.”

In addition to working as a counselor, Jacobsen will start working next week as a consultant for Head Start, coaching teachers through Teacher-Child Interaction Therapy. Eventually she’d like to have her own practice, which would give her more flexibility as a mom and a musician.

She’s happy with her decision to stay in Billings, which she described as “a town that’s becoming a city. There’s a lot of stuff going on here that I’m really proud of.”

“I would love to be part of a bustling, really growing community,” she said.

To watch a video of Jacobsen and her band, click here.

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