Power Salad is a comedy music group offering obscurely skewed and head-scratchingly funny views of life, wrapped up in different musical styles like wieners in blankets. Power Salad had the #1 song of 2008 on the nationally-syndicated “Dr. Demento” radio show, as well as the #3 song of 2006. The group evolved out of Akron, Ohio’s radio comedy group Zot Theater in the late 1980′s, and has released 5 CDs of funny music. Performing member Chris Mezzolesta has represented Power Salad live at science-fiction and fan conventions, including the huge GENCON in Milwaukee 2001, ALCON (Weird Al/funny music con) in Chicago 1998/2000/2002, and Dementia 2001 in Detroit 2001. Power Salad returned to live performance at MARSCON 2007 in Minneapolis, to a wild, enthusiastic reception, and has also appeared at Con on the Cob in Akron and is scheduled to perform at MarsCon in Minneapolis, I-CON in New York and Confluence in Pittsburgh in 2009. The group is on independent Marianth Records, distributed by Orchard Records.
Craig Marks was the creator and executive producer of Zot Theater, on WAUP (now WZIP) at the University of Akron, he is now lyricist and idea man behind Power Salad. By day he is a computer-type-guy for a large Akron hospital, but looms over his PC keyboard like a geyser of dementia just waiting to blow out another funny song. Ol’ Demented Faithful. Chris Mezzolesta was a jazz student at Akron U and a jazz DJ on WAUP when he met Craig and co-Zot-creator Mike Crooker, who were coming off Zot’s predecessor, Kangaroo Theater. Chris was also a budding voice-actor-wannabe (at the time; he is in fact now a voice actor, his site is www.voiceguy1.com) and lent production skills as well as tons of voices to the 23 full-length Zot Theater episodes and myriad featurettes produced between 1984 and 1988.
Upon graduation, the members went relatively separate ways but kept the musical-comedy end of Zot Theater idea alive, in the wake of the emergence of They Might Be Giants. It took a number of years of false starts and lyrics stuffed in file drawers, but in 1996 Chris finally began production on what would become Power Salad’s debut album FORCE DOESN’T WORK ON A CRUSTACEAN. Working alone at home and dealing with the newfangled complexities of self-producing a compact disc in the late-90s, Chris soldiered on with the tools he had at hand (and didn’t have to pay extra for) and somehow got the album together and made. It’s still available, by the way. A 45rpm vinyl release preceded the album, “Co-dependency” was released as a Marianth Records single in 1997 following its appearance on Dr. Demento’s fan club-only “Basement Tapes 6″ CD. The flip side is an alternate mix of “The Saga of the Modern American Mall Family”.
The first Power Salad performance occurred in June 1998 at the first ALCON, held in Evanston, IL. Various artists came up and did a song each, Chris performed an acoustic version of the already-recorded but not-yet-released “The Chemical Engineering Song”. Shortly after the release of CRUSTACEAN, Chris performed at the second ALCON in 2000, doing a mini-set consisting of his custom theme for the convention and the first single, “Co-dependency”. In 2001, Power Salad appeared at Dementia 2001 in Detroit, totally dedicated to comedy music and featuring many artists who would soon form the core of the “dementia” genre. Soon after, fellow Dementia artist “the great Luke Ski” invited Chris to assist with his set at GenCon in Milwaukee, where they performed Chris’s parody “Play That Filky Music”. In 2002, THE WHITE-OUT ALBUM was released. The last Power Salad performance for a while occurred at ALCON III back in Chicago, where Chris once again performed a mini-set with a new custom theme composed for the convention (again, a parody on a Weird Al original).
After this, Chris did a Beatles and retreated into the studio and home life. Not much was heard for a while, until a little ditty about a cat and a vacuum cleaner was let loose by Craig, and reared its ugly head at the end of 2005. “My Cat Is Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner” tore up the Dr. Demento Show charts and was the #14 song on the 2005 countdown, and later the #3 song on the 2006 countdown. The video has had thousands of views on YouTube, and congratulatory notes have poured in from everywhere. The song was released on the 2006 Power Salad album POWER SALAD 3: SWEAT EQUITY, and also appears on Dr. Demento’s Basement Tapes 14 compilation.
After a while of laying low, Chris received a call from his good friend “the great Luke Ski”, letting him know that the dementia folks out there missed Power Salad’s presence, and were hoping that Chris could attend and perform at Marscon 2007 in Minneapolis…Some soul-searching ensued, but it was decided that Power Salad would return to the land of Dementia, and since then there has been no turning back. The MarsCon performance was captured by DJ Blaksmith of DementiaRadio.org, and released as POWER SALAD LIVE: WARTS ‘N’ ALL. The album was dedicated to Chris’s late aunt Lucille, who was always one of his biggest champions in the music/voice/creative fields, and whose presence and feedback is sorely missed. Around the time of MarsCon, Power Salad was invited to join the ranks of the Funny Music Project (The FuMP) as an Auxiliary member, contributing songs when possible to the Creative Commons-based site.
After a move to North Carolina in 2006, Chris returned to Northeast Ohio in late 2007 for a performance at Con on the Cob, a nifty little con. Another performance at MarsCon 2008 followed, and again at Con on the Cob. Power Salad’s latest album CINNAMONY SEA ANEMONE was released at the beginning of 2008, and contains the Dr. Demento smash “Hold On, I’ve Got To Take This”, their ELO style parody, which also appeared on the Basement Tapes 17 compilation. It went all the way to the top spot on this year’s Funny 25 countdown.
So basically, Power Salad is back. If you run a con, I’d love to play it. Performances are slated for Marscon 2009, I-CON, Confluence 2009 in Pittsburgh, presumably Con on the Cob again, and an in-the-works performance being put together in Eastern Pennsylvania. There will now be a quiz…