When it comes to her career, or just about anything for that matter, Lindsay Mower has boundless enthusiasm. She walks into Java Joe’s with her customary bright smile, her brown eyes sparkling and her curly hair pulled back in a ponytail, eager for our interview. The music career, she reports, is going well.
“We’re doing better than ever,” she says of her band Natural High Jumble. “We’re just wrapping up our Late Summer Tour…We felt really stylin’ because we got a Thule rack on our Honda for our stuff when we are on the road!”
I first met Lindsay when she was a freshman in my college writing class. The theme was Bob Dylan, which she embraced wholeheartedly. I serve as advisor to the student newspaper, and at the end of the semester I recruited Lindsay. She embraced that too, and despite a busy schedule that already included playing music live, she devoted considerable energy to the paper, working on layout, editing and reporting. She was a community health major, and of course she embraced that too. The last time I’d talked to Lindsay she was finishing up a successful internship and planning to take a job with the same agency: full time, salary, benefits, all those real world perks.
Today she tells me there’s been a change of plan. She is devoting herself to her music, and beyond a couple days a week working at a local farm, music is paying the bills these days.
What tipped the balance, I asked her. “I had to take a drug test for the job,” she tells me bluntly, “and I didn’t want to change my lifestyle that much. It was one of those things that made you think. Do I want to take the straight edge route or have a fun, adventurous musical journey? It was a no-brainer at that point for me.”
These days Lindsay’s life revolves around playing live with the band, and most of the time she doesn’t have to venture far from home in West Farmington. “We love to play at Tuck’s right here in Farmington,” she says. “It’s so intimate and we see all our friends.”
The trio, comprised of Lindsay on vocals and guitar, brother Matt Mower on drums and Joe Hodgkins on lead guitar, has also played farther afield in cities including Burlington and Portland. They’re even attracting a fan base that travels with them. “At least one car of people comes to every show,” she says. “We have a little community now.”
Lindsay describes the band’s sound as “smoky, jazz rock… I grew up playing in jazz bands on saxophone,” she explains. “I didn’t listen to a lot of rock music. Mom listened to jazz. I know jazz and that’s basically it.” In college she found more influences including fellow classmate and musician Lauren Crosby and her “folksy blues stuff.” Bandmate Joe adds another dimension to Natural High Jumble. “He has a more jam band, Grateful Dead sort of sound,” says Lindsay. “If you break down the chords, they’re all jazz chords, but Joe just shreds over it for ten minutes.” Lindsay’s own approach to guitar is purely intuitive. “I just know the shapes,” she says. “It’s geometry to me, and I can hear when it is wrong.”
The band features not only covers but also Lindsay’s originals with quirky lyrics about blueberries and rosemary bread and “mouth feel.” Songwriting, she says, is an ongoing process, and a mystical one to hear her describe it. “I have words floating around in my head for weeks or sometimes years,” she explains. “Usually I don’t even know what the song is about until afterwards. I’ve written songs about people I haven’t met yet. I almost manifest my future through my songwriting.” The band’s original recordings are developing a following online with a healthy number of listeners on the usual platforms. A couple summers ago Lindsay recorded solo material in Norway with a Bergen producer called Rabaldermannen Johannes, and the band has recorded in Kingfield with John Winter. Future plans include recording an EP in November. Next spring Lindsay plans to return to Norway, this time with her bandmates. “We would just like to meet people over there and be inspired,” she says. “Bergen is really a musical city.”
Lindsay’s fantasy scenario for the band seems to match her free spirit. “I want this big old 1963 Dodge Van,” she says. “I want to put a couch in it and just drive to festivals like Coachella and play there. That would be my dream come true, definitely. A big crowd with people dancing.”
Listen to Natural High Jumble here:
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