By Amanda Gerndt   Published Jul 24, 2003 at 5:19 AM

{image1}Usually bands start out playing in someone's garage. They then move up to performances at local coffee shops and venues; slowly their name gets around town. Eventually, if they are any good, they record a few songs for a CD. Not so with New Harmony Indiana.

This band is actually a product of a CD, if that makes any sense. Indiana native Matt Krajewski assembled fellow musicians from around the Midwest to record a few songs with him. He liked the sound. He liked the people. So he started New Harmony Indiana with the help of Joe Vent from The Yell Leaders (of which's Bobby Tanzilo is also a member).

"I called Joe Vent from The Yell Leaders, and told him I'd buy him a banjo if he'd play in my band," says Krajewski about his co-conspirator.

Vent is not only the band's guitar player and all around back-up, but he also came up with the band's name. New Harmony, Indiana is a small town formed as a utopian community in the 19th century. Krajewski, born in Kokomo, Indiana -- as was Vent -- was looking for something with an old-time feel to communicate his love for acoustic instruments. Krajewski also feels the ideas behind the town and band matched because he is a bit utopian-minded.

NHI's music could be called a "grab bag of instrumentation and styles." The band mixes Latin dance, industrial jazz, moaning hillbilly ballads and the occasional pop song. But deep down, at the core is country and western tunes. Krajewski's years in various bands such as The Joker's Henchmen, The Yell Leaders, Ann McWilliams, Amos Moses, Eric Blowtorch & The Inflammables, The Meddler and Tolstoi's Tricycle have given him enough variety to know just what sounds he wants to convey.

A few other Hoosiers decided to stay with NHI after participating in the recording. Ted Jorin accompanies on banjo and Jeff Krajewski of the Joker's Henchmen is the percussionist, although the band is currently breaking in a new drummer, Brian Wendtlandt, who performed with The Wooldridge Brothers (also Indiana natives!). Krajewski is the lead vocalist, upright bassist and songwriter. Vent and Krajewski's old cohort Tom Young (former lead singer/songwriter for Joker's Henchman, Amos Moses) also contributed songs.

"Most (of my) inspiration comes from social situations, things that piss me off or move me," says Krajewski. "Writing average lyrics, and music for that matter, is easy, editing them into good songs is the hard part."

New Harmony Indiana will release its CD with a live show at the Zodiac Luxury Lounge, 201 W. Mitchell St., on Sat., July 26. The band plans to bring out anything from a reed organ to lap steel to electronic synthesizers for the big gig. Fellow Milwaukee musician Stephanie Dosen and Chicago's Jenny Choi and the Third Shift will open.

"With local music, it's close and I can see it performed, and talk to the makers of it on a regular basis," says Krajewski, a huge fan of local musicians. He urges everyone to check out the show and get a taste of New Harmony, Indiana right here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.