By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 05, 2004 at 5:27 AM

{image1}The Mighty Lumberhorn is a Milwaukee band with a difference. The group recently released its first CD, but, you might say, "So, what?" Lots of bands put out CDs. The quintet plays a smart, funny brand of hillbilly music. Yeah, yeah, you saw that Coen brothers' movie, too.

But, ask yourself, "How many bands -- local or otherwise -- have invented their own instrument?" OK, Victor DeLorenzo tossed a wash tub up onto a snare drum stand, but that's ancient history.

No, the Mighty Lumberhorn is in a class by itself these days, because it is the only band in the world that features -- and is named after -- the mighty lumberhorn, a type of home-made acoustic bass. And ... and! ... its members have also invented a drum set that serves as its own storage case.

"Around August 2003," recalls frontman and banjist Ted Jorin, an Indiana native who is also a member of Milwaukee's New Harmony Indiana, "I mentioned to BJ (Bob Jorin, Ted's uncle) that I was going to construct a washtub bass. Before I got around to it, he built the world's first lumberhorn, the gold standard of the 2x4 and plywood variety acoustic stand up bass-type instrument."

No frills and no nonsense, the mighty lumberhorn might not look like much to the untrained eye, but in the hands of BJ, the lumberhorn it becomes a rock-solid foundation for The Mighty Lumberhorn's uptempo, twangy mix of bluegrass, country, folk, rock and all-out hillbilly sound.

That sound got its start when the Jorins hooked their lumberhorn up to a full band in an attempt to remain down with the backwoods boys.

{image2}"I'm proud to say the band is my fault," Ted says. "I was afraid I was losing hillbilly cred playing emotional anti-pop with New Harmony Indiana and thought about starting a side project.

"I called my friend Jeffro (Jeff Calvert) and coerced him to play the American Tourister Drum kit, which is another of BJ's creations. It's a drum set constructed from an actual suitcase that he played when we were in another band."

"Cuzzin Uncle Dan (Dan Werner) plays the vest pocket sized trump (mouthharp). He's the only guy I know who owns one. He also plays washboard and leads the people during the kazoo parts. I met Buster (Jake Orvis) via the Internet. I was intrigued that he could play both Motley Crue and The Stanley Brothers on the mandolin. Buster's been around the Milwaukee punk and hardcore scene in bands like Penalty Box and Swillrotten and performs with Comedy Sportz."

Soon, the songs were flowing like moonshine...

Ted penned "I'm Gonna Burn in Hell, Hallelujah," "I'll Come Back and Haunt You When You Die" and "Ballad of Tupac Shakur" and posited, "What Would Jesus Drive." BJ chipped in "Armageddon Over You" and the racy "Sit On My Bass."

The Mighty Lumberhorn then spent a weekend at a local studio and recorded "Blood Is Thicker Than Moonshine," which was just released and is available at shows and via the band's Web site, www.lumberhorn.com. You can also find it at Rush-More Records, Tip-Top Atomic Shop, Atomic Records and Lotus Land.

With their own material and a mix of traditional fiddle tunes, country standards and obscurities and bluegrass, The Mighty Lumberhorn has been rockin' Milwaukee crowds.

"We play out about two or three times a month and we have a Rib Nite engagement every other Tuesday at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg, 5937 S. Howell Ave.," says Ted Jorin.

"We have a lot of audience participation at the shows -- free kazoos for everybody, sing alongs -- and we try to leave out the slow parts and the response has been really good so far. Also, we're all married and our wives aren't afraid to tell us when something's not working."

Go see the band soon and if you really want to make a statement, go first to their Web site, download the instructions, and build your own lumberhorn. Bring it to the gig and odds are they'll let you sit in. If not, build two lumberhorns and beat them at their own game.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.