Toronto radio icon Dave “Bookie” Bookman honored with Heritage Plaque

The memorial will stand in front of the city’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern

Photo (right): Calum Slingerland

Released on July 26, 2022

Dave “Bookie” Bookman – the late Toronto radio icon who was loved on the city’s scene for his dedication to independent music – has been honored with a new plaque at one of the provincial capital’s premier live music venues.

Today, many of Bookman’s friends, family, colleagues and listeners were there to unveil a Toronto Heritage plaque outside the Horseshoe Tavern, commemorating his lifelong promotion of independent music inside and outside of Canada. The sizable crowd, who had gathered on the sidewalk outside as if they had just seen a set at the venue, saw members of Arkells, Rheostatics, Billy Talent and Broken Social Scene in attendance.

The plaque, seen below, will soon be permanently in place in front of the venue’s famous steps from the northeast corner of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue. It was at the Horseshoe that Bookman co-created and hosted the Nu Music Nites, the long-running weekly concert show that debuted in 1993.

Bookman’s career in radio began in the 1980s at CIUT-FM, the University of Toronto’s campus radio station, hosting programs including Up and out and Do not look back. At the time he was also working as a buyer for A&A Records and was making his own music and releasing an album as a member of the Bookmen Volume One Delicatessen 1987

In the 1990s, Bookman became a reporter and announcer for CFNY-FM (now The Edge) in Toronto, where he continued to promote independent music as the host of the station’s Indie Hour throughout the decade. In 2013 he helped launch CIND-FM – better known as Indie88 – and was awarded the Canadian Independent Music Association’s Unsung Hero Award in 2018.

Hosted by Josie Dye, Bookman’s friend and colleague at Indie88 and The Edge, the reveal event included performances by Billy Talent frontman Ben Kowalewicz, Bookman’s friend and bandmate Tim Mech, Lowest of the Low’s Stephen Stanley, and July Talk Dreimanis’ Leah Fay and Peter .

Kowalewicz called Bookman “the embodiment of what this community is and what it should be” to highlight the importance of his spirit to the future of independent music across the country. The Bookmen performed the original song “Stop the Show” before covering “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” famously sung by one of Bookman’s all-time favorites, Elvis Costello.

Stanley recalled spending Tuesday nights at the ‘Shoe with Bookman (and then going to Sneaky Dee’s for a King’s Crown Nacho record) before talking about his in a song called “The Owl.” deceased friend sang: “You transplanted all of your things / And taught this town to sing.”

Dreimanis first shared as he stepped up to the mic, “It’s intimidating to meet a guy whose voice you only know from the radio,” but noted that Bookman’s Wilco hat was “a welcome invitation” to her love music and stories to share. At the conclusion of the meeting, July Talk reported on Wilco’s “Misunderstood”, whose acoustic rendition was soon overtaken by the music of the cityscape: a howling fire engine and a dog howling nearby.

Bookman died in May 2019 after being hospitalized for an aneurysm. He was 58.

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