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Aaron Chapman

9 December 2014 | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

The historian and author Aaron Chapman discusses his latest book, Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver’s Historic Commodore Ballroom (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014), the legendary music venue, and more, in studio with Joseph Planta.


Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver’s Historic Commodore Ballroom by Aaron Chapman (2014).

Click to buy this book from Amazon.ca: Live at the Commodore


Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:

I am Planta: On the Line, in Vancouver, at TheCommentary.ca.

Aaron Chapman joins me again. He’s recently published a new book: Live at the Commodore: The Story of Vancouver’s Historic Commodore Ballroom. Like with the subject of his last book, Vancouver’s famed Penthouse nightclub, I’m probably the only one left in this town, born here, who hasn’t been to both of Mr. Chapman’s subjects. But his gift at writing history, is evoking the many eras of the nearly 85 year old venue, that you feel as though you’ve danced to big band music in the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s, or gotten up close to a musical act in the ‘70s and 80s, that you could read the time off their watch. The Fabulous Commodore Ballroom has had many incarnations, many notable acts play its stage, and many a Vancouverite has danced on their fabled bouncy wooden floor. Aaron Chapman takes us through the history of the historic music venue at 870 Granville Street, with such remarkable insight into the musical acts who’ve played there, as well as interviews with the people front and back of house, who’ve made the Commodore the place for music. From Rudy Vallee to Lady Gaga, and every conceivable vocalist or vocal group one could think of, a lot of folks have played the Commodore. We’re reminded in this book, of the influence of Drew Burns, on the cultural scene in Vancouver. He was the Commodore’s proprietor from the 1960s into the 1990s, and his recent death reminds us of his impact. In this book, we get a sense of what it was like through photographs from the archive, and many photos from some of Vancouver’s best concert photographers. We see terrific posters from concerts, and other ephemera from the venue’s storied history. But it’s Mr. Chapman’s buoyant, sharp and confident writing that keeps us engaged in this book. We get a sense of what Granville Street has been like over the last four score and five years; we essentially get a colourful view of Vancouver’s past through this robust cultural institution. The website for more is at www.aaronchapman.net. Aaron Chapman is a writer, historian, and musician. He was last on the program for Liquor, Lust and the Law, which was shortlisted for a BC Book Prize, and was a bestseller in British Columbia. He also appears in the Anvil Press collection, Vancouver Confidential. Live at the Commodore is already on the bestseller list as we speak here in early December. The reviews for this book have already been outstanding, especially that Tom Sandborn one that appeared in the Vancouver Sun in recent days. Please welcome back to the Planta: On the Line program, in studio as it were, Aaron Chapman; Mr. Chapman, good morning.

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