Casablanca Orchestra to Headline at KDWB Stage on Grand Old Day
by Bill Stieger
The Casablanca Orchestra has but one mission: To entertain its audiences. Unlike the man at whose presidential inauguration they played, CBO (Their official name) can claim "Mission Accomplished" after every gig.
The Casablanca Orchestra is a show band, pure and simple. Their fans consider them the best show band in the United States. CBO bills themselves as "The World's Most Outrageous Party Band," And though that assessment sounds like a bit of hyperbole, none can argue that CBO delivers, in both music and showmanship. The Casablanca Orchestra plays the gamut of popular music, from swing to rock, to disco. CBO can go from a sophisticated tin-pan alley standard like "I Get a Kick Out of You," to the 50s rock of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," then sock out a send up of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made For Walking," all without once sounding like they're shucking the style. Their mastery of so much of popular music's genres places them in a higher category than the average "cover" band.
"We tailor every show to that particular audience," said CBO's vocalist and manager, Melanie Moos. "We have our set list of tunes. But we play a lot of different styles. The audience at a nightclub will be different than an audience at a convention. So, everywhere we play, we check out the audience to find out what's working and what isn't. Then we shape the music around the tastes of the audience."
And the 11-piece group has a cadre of fanatical followers. "Those guys perform every night as if it's the first and last gig they'll ever play," said Rich Farris, a CBO fan since 1992. "They have great musicianship, a great show, and a great attitude. And you can tell they love playing together."
Moos, who grew up near Fargo, was born into a family with one foot in music, the other in business. "My father worked for the William F. Ludwig Drum Company, of Chicago," said Moos. "And my mother was a piano teacher. My father was in the business end of music. I always sang. But I was a drummer and a percussionist before I became a professional singer."
Moos studied music and theater at Moorhead State, then moved to Minneapolis to find work as a vocalist. She sang and danced at area theaters and nightclubs, performed summer stock in smaller Midwestern cities. She toured with an R & B band, then formed the Casablanca Orchestra with her companion, Tom Garvin. Moos is the lead vocalist, booking agent, manager, choreographer. She still plays percussion, and records with other singers, like GB Leighton.
Moos runs a slick operation. Need a brochure? A CD? Photos? No problem. Delivered the following day. "You have to be a business person to have any success in music," said Moos. "We weren't fooling around when we started the group. We surveyed potential audiences. We studied all the music trade magazines. We didn't form the band with stars in our eyes. It's fine to think you're going to be the next Beatles. But we wanted to be realistic. And more than anything, we wanted to work."
The 11 members who comprise CBO gig frequently in the Twin Cities, at nightclubs like Bogarts and the Twin Cities Music Cafe. But the group's real money is made playing for corporate clients. Big company parties. And they play them all over the country. "The best part of the corporate jobs is not having to drive. We fly to all of our gigs outside of the Midwest."
CBO's most notable appearance was in Washington D.C., when the played for the 55th Presidential Inauguration in 2005. Their promotional material competed against 1000 other press kits examined by the Inaugural Committee. Groups from all over the nation performed at the various Inauguration day parties and functions. The Casablanca Orchestra was chosen to represent the North.
The Casablanca Orchestra, who were voted "Best R&B Band," by City Pages Magazine in 2003, consists of Matt Angleson, on trombone and vocals; James Brown (!)vocals, keyboards, percussion; Jerry Eskridge, vocals keyboards and percussion; Phil Holm, trumpet, vocals; Jeffrey Jensen, trombone, trumpet vocals; Richie Lake, keyboards and vocals; Melanie Moos, lead vocalist, keyboards, percussion; Steve Paoli, drums, vocals; Schroeder, saxophone, keyboards vocals; Tim Skogen, bass and Patrick Thorsteinson, guitar and vocals.
"Those guys in the Casablanca Orchestra are some of the most talented musicians in the Twin Cities," said fan and friend of the band, Joe Amy, who also owns a nightclub in Dennison, Minn. "They can play any kind of music. I like to say that CBO appeals to audiences from 8 to 80. So, I know they'll be a hit at Grand Old Day."
Moos says she feels extremely fortunate with the band's present personnel. "This is a pretty crazy business," said Moos, "People come and go from bands all the time. But the current bunch of guys is just terrific. We're relaxed. We're loose. We're working together to entertain our audiences. You'll see how it all comes together at Grand Old Day."
Other CBO News Articles:
CBO's New Rock & Soul 'Vue! (12/17/2008)
Keeping tabs: RNC winners, losers (8/28/2008)
CBO WINS TOP HONOR! (3/6/2008)
New Years Eve with the Miracles of Mitch Foundation! (12/31/2007)
Casablanca Orchestra offers ‘soul’ salvation at local clubs (11/21/2007)
Rosemount Leprechaun Days' Mid-Summer Faire bands to rock (5/11/2007)
Souling out - Casselton native fronts for nationally-famous orchestra (10/4/2006)
Celebrate the Grand Re-opening of Detroit Lakes Pavilion with CBO!! (5/12/2006)
New CBO Website is Launched (4/11/2006)
"A big 'THANK YOU' to you and your crew for another fabulous night of entertainment!!"
Susan J. Nelson
Administrative Office Manager
Department of Medicine
Mayo Clinic Rochester
Ya Gotta Hear the Band!
Hear Audio Clips and find Ordering information.
> Link to CD/Audio/Video