A Brief History Of The Big Mess Orchestra

by Andy Bresnan

The first version of what was to become the Big Mess Orchestra played music for a production of The Bogus Bride in 1987, and consisted of Karen Schmidt, John Razler, and myself. By 1991, when we produced the first cabaret Three on a Meathook, One on the Floor, we were joined by Wendy Buckwalter, Rob Winfelder, and Joe Quigley. We only played four or five songs in between the performance art that weekend, but a few cabaret trademarks were already established: the hostessing of the show by mistress of ceremonies Carlota Ttendant, the "Off Our Backs and Onto Yours Cabaret Strip Show Auction," and the practice of chewing up any genre of music that crosses our path and spitting it out more or (sometimes) less altered.

The next cabaret took us to the Penguin Place, where we stayed for a couple of years during which the cabarets grew into four-hour events with an ever widening circle of singers and performers. By the time we left, the orchestra also included Thomas Razler, Myk-Syd, Randy "Cookie" Rudolph, Dean Sabatino, Chris Unrath, and Alan Hewitt.

Since then our home has been the Trocadero where the band (with Topher in place of Alan on bass), the show, and the audience all had a bit more room to grow. The number of people who have crossed our stage in the years since then is huge. There is a bit of a revolving door of guest musicians, singers, and performers.