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CBO's founder calls June 2 Pavilion performance a 'homecoming'

The grand reopening of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion, while serving as the kickoff event for DL's sixth annual Street Faire at the Lakes, is expected to be an event in and of itself.

When the newly renovated Pavilion reopens its doors to the public on Friday, it will be the culmination of several years' worth of effort to preserve the 90-year-old local landmark.

Lakes area residents past and present are anxious to get a look at the results of the $700,000-plus facelift, and the founder of the band that will serve as the event's featured performers is no exception.

"I'm from Casselton, N.D., but I spent all my summers on Lake Melissa growing up," said Melanie Moos, founder and director of CBO. "I spent a lot of time at the Pavilion... there's lots of great memories for me there.

"I'm so happy to see it restored. When Amy Stearns (Historic Holmes Theatre administrator, who was asked to book the entertainment for the grand reopening) called us about doing this, it was a done deal -- whatever we could do to help. I have a lot of family and friends who still live there (in Detroit Lakes). This is definitely like a homecoming for me."

CBO (aka Casablanca Orchestra) is considered to be one of the hottest touring show bands in the U.S. Moos said CBO is planning to do three one-hour sets during the course of the celebration, which kicks off at 8 p.m.

Founded in 1991, the 10-member ensemble has built a reputation as "the world's most outrageous party band."

"When you have 10 people in a band and everybody has a voice it (the music) becomes eclectic all on its own," Moos explained. "When I started the band back in 1991, I had been in several bands, and saw what didn't work and what did."

Moos said the group's unique sound has evolved from seeing what the crowds at their shows enjoyed most, and "all the different people we've worked with in the last 15 years have added their spin to it too."

While CBO's full name includes the word "orchestra," Moos noted that she prefers the acronym.

"We're not really an orchestra -- we're a band," she said. The group's name was originally Carlotta and the Cool-Lots, but they were urged to change their name by the owner of Bogart's, the club where they landed their first house band gig.

"The man who owned the club asked that we rename ourselves to better fit (the theme of) his club, so I said that we should be Casablanca Orchestra. I was kidding -- but he loved it."

Moos said that while most members of the group do write music, CBO does tunes that are "tried and true" rather than original songs.

"Every song we do has our spin on it, so it doesn't sound like just another tired cover tune," she said. "Everything is carefully arranged and thought out."

In fact, despite doing approximately 40 shows a year on the road, and at least that many in the Twin Cities area, CBO still rehearses its shows once a month, for about three to four hours a session.

"Every show is completely different," Moos said. "We rehearse a lot, and we perform a lot so we know how to adjust our show according to the crowd and the venue.

"I work really closely with whomever the client is and get the best feel I can for the crowd, then write a set list according to that -- but once you get into the venue and see the crowd it (the set list) can change drastically. So we have what we call "audibles," where you call a different tune or even a different direction entirely, because the crowd wants something different, so you have to change it on the spot."

Those "audibles" consist of everything from yelling out visual cues to sign language or even throwing flags in the air.

"It (performing) is definitely an adventure," Moos said. "We're always watching each other, and the crowd."

CBO's repertoire encompasses everything from the pop classic "Mac the Knife" to Devo's "Whip It" (in which the band's three-member horn section sets aside their instruments and dons the requisite flower pot headgear worn by Devo in their heyday).

"We do some swing, but we're really based in rock and roll, R & B, and jazz -- put all that together and you've got CBO," Moos said.

Tickets for the June 2 grand reopening dance are $12 in advance or $15 at the door, and can be purchased at the Historic Holmes Theatre Box office, 826 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes, or by calling 218-847-SHOW (7469).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454