On April 5th, TOMS staff, supporters and friends celebrated One Day Without Shoes – the annual culmination of TOMS efforts to raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. So many people around the world went without shoes on April 5, 2011, and we hope you’ll join us for One Day Without Shoes 2012.
This year, One Day Without Shoes was not just about walking without shoes but also focused on how supporters and participants could further leverage their passions and affiliations to change lives. And La Blogotheque wanted in. From Alex Winston to Gilbere Forte to Ian Axel, topped off with a little Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent, we hope you enjoy and appreciate the time these individuals took further promote the cause. We know we did.
First up was Alex Winston. We happened to catch her hot on the heels of her Take Away Show with La Blogotheque, where she and her band and back-up singers gallivanted around the Louvre and sang in some questionable bushes in the garden out back. This time around we were nowhere near the Louvre, nor those bushes, but were instead in Brooklyn, cozied up in a massive loft at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. Alex met us there late morning, and after slipping off her shoes for kids everywhere, she and her incredible voice took us far away from grey and drizzly New York. Almost, dare I say, as far away as that sunny day back in Paris.
It is not often we hear “La Blogotheque” and “rapper” or “Hip Hop” in the same sentence, and so we are excited to break that trend via Gilbere Forte. Born in Flint, Michigan, and raised in Chicago, Gilbere is no shortage of midwestern niceties. But not only is he super polite and accommodating (we asked him to take off his shoes and take a walk in the rain – he did so with a smile), he is incredibly talented as well. The critical acclaim following his ’87 Dreams album release led to a slew of featured guest appearances, including Stromae’s “Alors On Danse” remix also featuring Kanye West; Yeasayer remix of Florence + The Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”; and the Diplo-produced “Up All Night” by Alex Clare. And our request that he go totally a cappella – and totally solo – came as somewhat of a surprise, but after barely flinching he jumped right into it. And this video, filmed on the steps leading up to The High Line, is further proof of his vast ability to adapt and contribute in a number of circumstances.
We heard back from Ian Axel about an hour before we ended up meeting, once again outside and on The High Line. The sun was setting and it was getting colder. The sky was still spotted with grey but the rain had stopped, and the quiet and mostly abandoned park offered up a rather tranquil scene. We ducked into an elevator while we waited for Ian and Chad Vaccarino, Ian’s other half for Pacific Sun. And because it was so warm and quiet in there, that was where we’d stay for the first song. For Say Something, Ian’s solo performance and plight with a lover – or soon-to-be-ex, rather – we walked up the park a bit and landed at the lookout on 17th Street and 10th Avenue. Here, the melancholy song blended nicely with the end to this melancholy weather. And Ian, barefoot and pleading, gave us all something to ponder as we watched the cars drive up 10th Avenue, people moving from one place to another, us catching their lives at that brief moment somewhere in-between.
Because Matthew Houck, of Phosphorescent, had been fighting off a cold that week we met up with him the next day at his place in Brooklyn. He was still pretty under the weather when we met, the rawness in his voice palpable and his discomfort clear. In-between coughs and sips of tea, Matthew made his way over piles of cords and around microphones and amps, a wall of guitars backing him up and a drum set living where a coffee table might have once been. A little Chihuahua, newer to the Houck brood and rather timid amongst us strangers, watched from the safety of Matthew’s girlfriend Amanda’s lap. He cleared his throat and started, and at once we were all mesmerized by the sounds and words of My Dove, My Lamb, that tightened feeling creeping in our stomachs and small tears forming in our eyes.
We then hopped out a window and walked past a few others, and settled in at the peak of the shingled rooftop of the building next door. With what seemed like the entire world to ourselves, we watched in wonder as Matthew performed At Death, A Proclomation. If this is what Matthew sounds like when he’s tired and sick, I can only imagine how he’ll make those many fans of his feel when he’s out on tour and back to his old self again. Magic.