Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern Celebrates 70 Years

To celebrate their 70th anniversary, Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern will hold a concert series that kicks off on September 26 and runs until the venues actual anniversary date on December 6. The series features notable artists doing both multiple-night residencies and one-night stands. Opening night features celebrated singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg. Performing solo electric and acoustic sights over three consecutive nights from September 26-28. These sets will include some of his most seminal releases. Other musicians will play these nights as well, including Life’s a Riot, Spy vs Spy, Worker’s Playtime, and William Bloke, among others.

Tickets to these 19+ shows are on sale now at Ticketfly, Rotate This, Soundscapes, and Horseshoe Tavern’s Box Office.

Other artists scheduled to perform during the Horseshoe 70th Concert Series include legendary hardcore punks DOA, indie rockers Hollerado, The Pursuit of Happiness, 54.50, and Elliot Brood. More anniversary events will be announced in the coming months.

The iconic Toronto venue has a long and colourful history, with the building beginning as a blacksmith’s shop in 1861. In 1947 when provincial liquor laws were ushered in, long-time owner Jack Starr converted the commercial building into a restaurant-tavern and then into a rockabilly music tavern in the mid-fifties. Right from the beginning, the venue began to establish its reputation as a cultural staple in the city by booking acts including Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, and Loretta Lynn. The early Horseshoe also helped jumpstart the careers of Canadian acts like Stompin’ Tom Connors, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, and The Band. After Starr’s retirement, local music promoters Gary Topp and Gary Cormier made a name for the venue by booking eclectic acts such as The Cramps, The Ramones, Talking Heads, MC-5, and The Police. After a short time closed, the venue was reinvented by Ken Sprackman and Michael “X-Ray” Macrae and transformed into the iconic Horseshoe Tavern the city knows and loves today. 

For a complete history of the Horseshoe, you can check out the venue’s site. Additionally, on September 23 author David McPherson is releasing The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History, which you can pre-order here.

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