I have a hard time putting my feelings and thoughts into words. I guess it’s always been easier for me to communicate through music. Violet’s mother, Abigail, was the first one to tell me this about myself. The first time we met at a party in college in Cleveland, she looked at me and said, “You’re one of the people who don’t like to talk about themselves,” and I guess she was right.
Later Abigail interviewed me for a music zine and when it was over she said, “That was the most difficult interview I’ve ever done.” She told me she had written for her school paper back in Question Mark, that she'd been inspired to become a journalist because of her father who ran the local paper. We spent the night in her dorm room looking at photos of her town and all the people she knew. As she was talking, I kept staring at her, thinking she was the most interesting person I had ever met.
She was going to England for her junior year which meant we only had a month together before she left. I was certain we would never see each other again. I started writing “Ticking Away” one night after we watched the first season of Twin Peaks together, sharing a sleeping bag in her dorm room.
When the interview came out, it said, “Todd Bookman is one of the most talented people you’ll never talk to, so you’ll have to settle for listening to his music.” She saw something in me and my music I couldn’t see. She went to England and "Ticking Away" became a minor hit. We wrote each other letters and even called a few times. When she came back at the end of her second semester, it felt like my adult life was actually starting. Every time I think of that moment, playing that song for her the first time, whenever I think of her now, time seems to stand still.
Bookman’s Music started in 2001 when Todd Bookman arrived in Question Mark with his then-girlfriend/future wife Abigail and met Ronny Vanderslice, whose Question Mark Music shop was set to close that same year. Having never run any kind of business before, Todd took a giant leap of faith and used his combined talents for songwriting and music instruction to open Bookman’s Music in Spring of 2001. Since its inception, Bookman’s Music has been more than just a store; it's a place where musicians of all levels converge, sharing their love for music and fostering a sense of community.
Over the years, Bookman's has evolved to cater to a wide range of musical needs. It's not just about selling instruments; the store has become a nurturing ground for budding musicians, offering music lessons, hosting local events, and providing a space where musicians can connect and collaborate. The store's welcoming atmosphere and Todd's commitment to his customers have made Bookman’s a beloved institution in Question Mark.
Until recently, Bookman's has been a family affair. Todd has fond memories of playing with his wife and father-in-law and other Question Mark musicians in the store’s early days. Their early jam sessions with local musicians laid the foundation for the store's community-focused ethos. Today, while the store has grown and evolved, the fond memories of its early days continue to inspire its warm, inviting atmosphere.
Todd's wife, Abigail Flynn
Todd's daughter, Violet Bookman
Every time I look at Violet, I see her mother. I can’t explain how hard these last five years have been but one of the strangest things is just how much alike her mom Violet has become. Her unending curiosity, the way she sets her mind to something and refuses to give up, even the way she watches television, leaning over the edge of the couch, it’s hard not to feel like the two of them would have been so close, closer than Violet and I will probably ever be.
I can’t believe she’s going to be eighteen. I know I’ve been distant, but I also know both of us needed to find answers in our own way. I also know I’ve been afraid to talk about the pain both of us are dealing with. And I know, in just a few months, she’s going to be leaving. The other day I was driving to the store and “Ticking Away” came on the radio and I suddenly thought of Violet and how little time the two of us have left. I know I have to do something right now while I still can.
I also know she is looking for answers about what happened to her mother and what’s happening in town. And I realize I have to help her, even if it means facing the past and eventually having to let her go.
You wouldn't know if you met him today, but Todd was once the lead singer and keytarist of Matrixx, which enjoyed a brief moment of fame with the song "Ticking Away," which reached #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1991. Their debut album, We Are Matrixx, didn't succeed at the level of the single and their record label dropped them in 1993 as music trended away from synth pop.
Matrixx continued to tour for four years before the members of the band, Todd, guitarist Steve Bell, and drum programmer Bruce Taylor decided to unplug their cables in 1996 and move forward with their lives. Even though most people have forgotten Matrixx, it was a pivotal experience for Todd, which allowed him to understand how to explore his feelings through music.
Since then, Todd also has taught over forty thousand hours of music lessons. Todd is always available for music lessons and is adept at the keyboard, guitar, keytar, digital drums, and both wind and brass instruments.
The hit song from Matrixx
Sorry, all Matrixx merchandise is currently sold out. Todd is always happy to sign old albums.
Matrixx T-shirt, $15.99
Ticking Away 45" single, $5.99
We Are Matrixx vinyl LP, $12.99