GOSHEN — Ask the nine bandmates in The Tumbleweed Jumpers to describe the group’s music and you’ll get nine different answers.
Making a name for itself in Goshen’s burgeoning music scene, the homegrown band’s signature sound is rooted in bluegrass, upbeat indie and Americana folk rock but sometimes strays into jazz and blues. And it’s all on The Tumbleweed Jumpers’ breakout EP.
“We’re kind of like if you took Kansas Bible Company’s horn section away and gave them mandolins and banjos,” said Logan Miller, a 24-year-old journalism student at Goshen College who plays electric guitar in the band.
The four-track “Tether to the Weather” EP gives listeners a taste of The Tumbleweed Jumpers’ spectrum of sound. The album was recorded by Ignition Music Garage production manager Joel Jimenez in the Art of Bea Studio downstairs from the downtown record store.
“He really got our style and allowed a lot of flexibility,” said Scott Lehman, a jack-of-all-trades who mainly plays guitar and sings in the band. “The pressure of recording is unlike anything else. It makes you realize that even though we’re good with our instruments, there’s always more you can do and more ways to improve.”
With multiple singers and songwriters in The Tumbleweed Jumpers, Lehman said the group’s sound is “a varied experience.”
“The nice thing about having nine members is that there are nine influences and nine different musical tastes,” he said.
The band’s approach to songwriting is magically cohesive, Lehman added. A band member typically shares an idea for a song – sometimes a set of lyrics or maybe a riff – and runs with it.
“Every song is kind of a journey,” he said.
Lehman wrote the title song for the new record, “Tether to the Weather.”
“I was reflecting on my life,” he said. “You can let the storm swallow you, or you can sort it out and make something better of it.”
The band recently crammed into a tiny studio space for an appearance on Goshen College’s 91.1 The Globe and has played everywhere from Constant Spring and Better World Books in downtown Goshen to the State Theater in South Bend. But one of the band’s highlights was opening for The Ragbirds at Ignition in March.
“It was beyond our wildest dreams,” said Lehman, a 29-year-old music teacher with Fairfield Community Schools. “I hadn’t felt energy like that at a show in a long time.”
Ignition owner Steve Martin had caught part of the band’s set at The Local and invited them to perform at his Washington Street music venue. Martin was one of the first people to hear the final mix of The Tumbleweed Jumpers’ EP and was impressed with what he heard.
“There’s something happening here with our concert series that is a spark to the local music scene,” Martin said. “I’ve seen more really good new releases from local artists in the last year than I did in the first two years here.”
The first run of the band’s record has sold out at Ignition, but Martin plans to order more copies of the album to sell in a section for local artists. The EP is also available for download on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.com.
Lehman said the band is already itching to record again later this spring.
“The EP just gave us a taste,” he said. “We want to do more.”
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.