Horseshoe Tavern

A note from Horseshoe Tavern owner Jeff Cohen

5/19

“Our longtime personal friend and key member of our H-Shoe family, Dave ‘Bookie’ Bookman, 58, passed away last night.

The history of Bookie’s relationship with the Legendary H-Shoe Tavern spanned some 26 years plus – However my personal working relationship started when I owned ‘One Step Beyond’ in Ottawa and had created a radio live to air concert series on CKCU-FM (Carleton University) .

I had booked UIC in for the CKCU series and needed a support act, the station was playing this rather odd folk punk duo, called ‘The Bookman’, who wrote Dylanesque folk ditties ala Billy Bragg and name checked streets/eateries (even delicatessens) in Ottawa.

Dave Bookman was the lead singer.

I don’t think he played an instrument, I’m not certain he even ‘sang’, lol he more talked/babbled his way through the record ala a prior day Craig Finn, but he absolutely jumped around the stage like a nerd jackrabbit on speed, but his intro song stories, and his poetic but silly rhyming imagery, was mega Costello-esque, even more importantly, from my initial contact with Dave, advancing the show, to finally meeting him in person, it was impossible to ignore his massive hi energy effervescent big warm positive personality.

We quickly became close friends.

When I moved to Toronto in 1991 Bookie was one of only 2 people I knew in the big city and he single hand-idly took me around and introduced me to anybody and everybody, at the time he was a volunteer programmer at CIUT, and so he helped get me a show there, which years later morphed into ‘Mod & Rockers’, and he introduced me to Elliott Lefko, who became a career music industry mentor of sorts, he introduced me to the Record Peddler staff, (did you know Bookie managed a record store for years?), who morphed into a major A&R source for my burgeoning punk talent buying career, and most importantly introduced me to the doormen at Lee’s and the Shoe, who made sure I got into every show (even when it was sold out).

It was Bookie that snuck me in the back rear door that famous 90’s Pixies show at the Apocalypse Club.

As legend will have it, sometime in 1994, post the band breakup (bandmate Tim Mech went on to become a pro level touring guitar tech), post managing a record store, and now a daily beat reporter on 102.1 (with Kim Hughes) then booker Yvonne Matsell approached Bookie about having him program a mid-week indie rock night at the venue, potentially sponsored by 102.1 CFNY.

I was a music agent at the time and helped push Bookie into taking it on – At the time the ‘Shoe was struggling and wasn’t showcasing enough Canadian alternative, independent, (and left of centre) touring music, Bookie took it on, and as he always did, poured his heart and soul into the music series, he contacted every Canadian indie touring artist from Newfoundland to BC and invited them to play on Tuesdays.

The irony is, initially Bookie wasn’t even being paid a ‘programming fee’, he felt so honoured to be ‘allowed’ to work with the ‘shoe, (as Bookie claimed) and so ‘guilty’ that the bar staff wasn’t doing any sales (or getting properly tipped) by fans of his chosen ‘weird’ live music, we discovered he was donating his pay to the staff (oh vay now that was Bookie).

When Craig Laskey and I were hired at the ‘shoe on a trial basis commencing Aug 1st 1995, which also ironically was Wilco’s first night (of many) at the venue, (and one of Bookie’s fave all time bands) we literally had to sit Dave down, and stop him from ‘tipping out’, instead getting him a small honorarium for all his hard work, when Craig and I were eventually hired on more longer term, we made Bookie an integral part of the talent buying team, getting him a fixed monthly salary.

You wouldn’t believe the quality of touring bands, Bookie, Elliott, and the team brought to the H-Shoe, for ‘free shows during Nu Music Nights’ from the Strokes first Toronto play, Old 97’s, Foo Fighters (twice), Billy Talent, The Hip, Nickleback, Big Wreck, Eels, Ash, Nada Surf, Spoon, Goldfinger, Vic Chestnut Son Volt, Matt Mays, and Slobberbone, but to name just a few, but more importantly Bookie’s series became the vehicle many Canadian artist(s) used to launch new records, from Triston Psionic, to the Inbreds, Weakerthans, and Joel Plaskett.

Eventually Bookie’s radio career took off, and he was less involved in helping program the music at the ‘Shoe, but still he was there, not just in sprit, but in person, at every major show, every venue birthday celebration, helping cut the cake, even Tara and I’s Nova Scotia Wedding.

He was an MC at TURF, An MC and speaker at my surprise 50th B-day, and I was lucky to be able speak, e-mail, or text, to him daily, and especially during baseball season, as Dave was my 15 year plus partner of the C.B.C. fantasy roto league ‘Horseshoe Hootenannies’

Our loss is beyond devastating, and words are tough to come by now, but in song-speak which is how Bookie often loved to talk, always quoting his fave lyrical songs, this is how some of us feel today.

‘Well I was working on some words when Craig called me up
– He said that Bookie had gone asleep and wasn’t waking up
And even though I knew that there was nothing to be done – I felt bad for not being there and now, well, he was gone

So I tried to think what Dave would want me to do – At times like this when I was feeling blue (like play Racing In The Streets ’78)
So I gathered up some friends to spread the sad sad news – And we headed to the H-Shoe for a drink or two

And we sang “We live to dance another day, It’s just now we have to dance for one more of us”

So stop looking so damn depressed – And sing with all our hearts, long live the King’

Jeff (JC) Cohen – Owner – H-Shoe Tavern
with help from Frank Turner (below in pic with our friend Bookie)