The Commodores Orchestra: Dance of the Decades
On May 23, 1947, Belleville mayor Frank Folwell cut the ribbon at Club Commodore at the Belleville, Ontario fairgrounds, the now-permanent home of the then-20-year-old Commodores Orchestra. Incredibly, the old chicken-viewing barn had been renovated and winterized by the musicians with their own hands into a million-dollar operation by today’s standards.
Band members at the time had each invested the equivalent of $25,000 in a venue whose food service capacity was 400, and in which the Commodores played four and five nights a week for as many as 1500 dancers. All this in a city of just 17,000.
It is the legacy of the pure musical passion of a collection of clerks, accountants, carpenters, insurance agents and mechanics who gave life to their musical dream. In recent years, an infusion of Grammy-winning musical talent has ensured the band’s place as the still-swinging ensemble whose name is widely-known and affectionately regarded in eastern and central Ontario.