For the longest little while, Lucy Tight thought she and her Hymn for Her bandmate Wayne Waxing had coined the term stompgrass.
Until she encountered similar bands that traffic in a stew of rock-inspired, hillbilly-punked bluegrass using the same name to define themselves.
But she and Waxing, her longtime music and life partner, have an edge on their contemporaries: her cigar-box guitar.
It's a cigar box affixed to a broom handle with three stings - two guitar and a bass.
"I play it through a bunch of pedals, and it rocks," Tight explained during a recent phone interview while shopping in a Portland, Ore., Trader Joe's. "It has two pickups, and it kind of adds a very gritty, dirty sound to the music."
The cigar-box guitar and the bruising rawness it brings to Hymn for Her's sound has become Tight's signature.
"We've kind of adapted it into our sound, like if there was a band that played some kind of unique, weird instrument," she said. "It sets us apart a little bit."
(For the record, the cigar-box guitar is a real instrument, crafted by Memphis musician and inventer Johnny Lowe.)
Between Tight and Waxing, who travel the country with their 3-year-old daughter in a 16-foot, 1961 Bambi Airstream, they create a full band sound using Tight's guitar, a pair of bullet mics, a banjo, a dobro, bass drum, hi-hat and harp.
The fullness of their sound is striking on their recently released album "The Amairican Stream," which they recorded last year from the back of their Airstream.
On the opening track, "Slips," a bluegrass, old-timey spirit comes through from Waxing's lightening-speed banjo riffs. Tight adds an electrical charge with her cigar box. Waxing follows up on "Grave" with ethereal vocals strained through mic distortions. And just when you think you've nailed down their sound as a funkified take on bluegrass, the pair come back with pulsating guitar riffs and three-speed drum runs on the punky "Sea," with Tight on lead vocals.
Driving rock dominates "Montana," which could easily be mistaken for 1970s-80s garage rock, and the punk-influenced "Thursday"; straight-up pop is infectious in "C'mon," which is pleasantly enhanced by backfeed from the mics. The album's pleasant twist is the closing track "Odette," an a capella straight-up bluegrass duet that features the couple's daughter in the opening refrain.
Hymn for Her will play a gig at Nimbus Brewery Friday, their first-ever Tucson show.
"The music is really kick ass, and we have a lot of high energy when we're on stage," said Tight, who has been playing with Waxing since the pair met a dozen years ago. "People are excited to hear the music, and we are excited to play the music."
If you go
• What: Hymn for Her in concert.
• Where: Nimbus Brewery, 3850 E. 44th St.
• When: 7 p.m. Friday.
• Cost: $5 at the door.
• Details: 745-9175.
• Soundbites: Check out Hymn for Her at www.hymnforher.com