About Our Cause


Shoes On Their Feet © is a not-for-profit business designed to implement positive change in the sonic cultures we record around the world. We have a simple plan for funds we receive: resolve the fundamental need for shoes and clothing for processional and parade musicians embodying this dynamic art. Our goal is to provide a minimum of one good pair of shoes for these musical giants carrying the rhythms and rituals of their culture so they might march and dance, play and lead, educate and inspire while protecting one of their most valuable resources…their feet.

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Shoes On Their Feet © was birthed from the New Orleans Second Line Jazz parades through a conversation with Bennie Pete, the sousaphone player and leader of the Hot 8 Brass Band. Out on the road with the Hot 8, during the diaspora caused by Hurricane Katrina, I was traveling as their sound man. One night after a gig in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bennie and I met up in his hotel room. In a philosophical mood, Bennie began breaking down the myriad dangers of the weekly Sunday Second Lines for musicians in New Orleans–stories of friends he’d lost, the painful hows and whys of the sometimes brutal travails of urban life for a musician playing on the capricious streets. Despite all these challenges, he said, the real reason he and the band might stop playing the parades after 14 years wasn’t the violence swirling around New Orleans, but because of their feet. I was astonished. The 6”5’ Bennie Pete was sitting in a comfortable chair with his shoes off, long legs resting up on the bed. He motioned to his bare feet and didn’t need to say anything more.

In the New Orleans Jazz tradition, as in many other musical cities around the world, it’s well known playing out on the street each week, while walking 4 to 5 hours, is integral to the civic structures supporting the pillars of these communities. However, what often escapes notice is the heavy toll these parades exact on the musicians making the sonic magic out of the thick air.

In that hotel room in Ann Arbor, Bennie said he wouldn’t be able to walk for two days after one Sunday Second Line or jazz funeral and wasn’t sure how wise it would be to go on. He said he wanted to be able to walk when he was fifty —everyone wants to be walking at fifty. Since that night in Michigan, documenting the parades and precessions round the globe, the founding members of Shoes On Their Feet © have paid close attention to the state of the shoes and feet of some of the world’s best musicians. And we have been dumbfound by the price of the ticket of being a musician walking the streets. Often these musical geniuses stride across busted, broken glass-strewn streets, parading in no shoes at all.

At present, Shoes On Their Feet © is searching for sponsors to outfit the feet of these bands so these musicians can keep playing their native, inherited rhythms in processions and parades continuing some of the most unique musical cultures of our world. With funding, Shoes On Their Feet © will work in conjunction with a shoe designer to develop a signature shoe for each rhythm we document, which highlights and illuminates the most meaningful, beautiful aspects of that particular sonic culture. Each sneaker will vary depending upon the characteristics of the documented bands and the cultures from which the band has surfaced.

After outfitting the documented bands with shoes and uniforms, through sponsorships, Shoes On Their Feet © will employ a one-for-one package, where for each special edition Rhythm Sneaker sold on the Shoes On Their Feet © website, our sponsors will donate a pair of shoes to a musician in the corresponding community. When a specified, tiered benchmark of the 1-for-1 shoe match is reached through purchases and donations, Shoes On Their Feet © will channel all remaining funds and resources directly into coordinated projects. These projects will be designated and developed by each community and featured on our websites. The purpose of this secondary initiative empowers and stabilizes the community.

In coordination with Blue Throat Productions, the stewards of the rhythms of the parades and processions will be documented and archived through sound, photography, film, written word, and web technologies. Interviews with and about musicians, rhythms, parades, crowds, and histories of places will illustrate the local and global bio-cultural value of documenting these sonic events. This content will inform consumers about how purchasing Shoes On Their Feet © Parade Sneakers is an investment which will protect musicians and support their surrounding communities for short and long term success.

Throughout our travels, Shoes On Their Feet © has seen that in many communities, shoes and clothing are only one of the basic human needs that are unmet. Shoes On Their Feet © aspires to facilitate sonic sustainability to the rhythmic jewels of our time while allowing for the free evolution of the sound by strengthening the roots of a neighborhood and shining an unbiased light on the innovative tip – the musicians.

Our tiered plan creates a paradigm for the growth of the music as a living art form through partnerships with other non-profits, foundations and businesses worldwide who also, will commit to strengthening the roots of these communities. Shoes On Their Feet © is currently working in one of the percussion capitals of the world, Santiago de Cuba.

We are immersed in the conga community to listen and learn; to determine from community leaders, in their own words, the greatest needs of their people; and to best understand, develop, and evolve Shoes On Their Feet © as a business framework which supports these common endeavors. The Cuban nationals on our team, (including Tomas Montoya of Santiago De Cuba) have been able to navigate through the heavy bureaucracy entangling the many good but failed intentions directed towards the island nation securing us avenues, blessings, and bridges towards our goals.

Shoes On Their Feet © ultimately aims to build connections between neighborhoods and appropriate foundations, not-for-profit & for-profit businesses, by channeling resources and funding back into community platforms which stabilize, promote, and deliver with continuity, respect, and wholeness, a rhythm’s musical legacy.

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