The 50 Shoes

The 50 Shoes

BandSpoken WordAvant-garde

A "shoe" is a short poem set to music. The sound ranges from punk rock to barbershop, tuneful pop to 20th-century atonal. Add homemade percussion, a dash of Vaudeville, and narrate for clarity. Literate & musicological, yet joyful. "The 50 Shoes" are serious artists at play, having a blast.


The 50 Shoes" is a project that began in the mid-90s and is finally returning with a new lineup after a three-year hiatus. A "Shoe" is a short poem set to music. A "50 Shoes" performance entails the reading and performing of these brief pieces in rapid succession. "The 50 Shoes" is also the troupe of intrepid performers who perform these pieces at places like the Contemporary Arts Center, the Art Academy of Cincinnati, InkTank, VOLK, and the Playhouse in the Park.

Founding members Eric Appleby and Matt Hart are also the co-Editors of literary journal Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, and Light Industrial Safety, which celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2005. Hart is a widely-published poet and an instructor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Appleby is an obscure composer by night and an Electronic Marketing Director by day. The pair are also behind a series of bands, including Clifford Nevernew, Travel, Seven Speed Vortex, and The National Trust.

Hart sings, whispers, speaks and shouts the words he wrote while Appleby accompanies on toy piano, bass guitar, and tap shoes. Multi-intrumentalist Matt Reynolds (Freekbass, 4Track Allstars) plays saxophones, flute, and clarinet. Christian Schmit (nee Uncle Glockenspeil) provides percussion and all manner of sound effects. Jane Carver (And How, Best Pedestrian) contributes keyboards and vocals, while Forrest Griffen (former 97X WOXY DJ and current WNKU personality) narrates The 50 Shoes. Sculptor Mary Anne Cowgill decorates the actual shoes that surround the stage.

The 50 Shoes are fun for all ages. Some are tuneful, some noisy, others poignant, but all are brief.


#18 Waxpaper Raincoat

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

I’m so happy for paint.
I’m so happy for pencils, I’m so happy (see the baker)
for erasers. I turn the record over. It could happen to you:
the lullaby singer, the window ledge serenade, your glamour self

faded in someone else’s trumpet, someone else’s low ceiling

#63 Stepping off into Air

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

He stands in a window
waving at construction, clouds,
the same river twice and the same
river twice. Herein, somewhere, a jumble
of cinders, embers, apple blossoms…

#65 Bear Tears

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

Breathing, the bear tears the caution
tape, makes the salesman shredded
wheat, the salesman taking orders for pencils
and wires, who outbursts with compliments,
green cigarette lighters and

Oh yes!

The pipecleaners
and robins' eggs
and beanstalk seeds.

Fifty odd songs. A garage of old wills.

#4 Nuthatch

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

Don’t assume first that shoes are possible,
that the shoe is possible,
that you are necessary. You are
a nuthatch (is all) and a cerebral number,
modest, no tongue.

#44 Epithalamion

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

In tune, you, like a rhinocerous now.
Tank-headed marriage, in arc, in vow: ignore
the numbers other
as they break from the sky.
Go banging: hysterical: announcement.

#28 National Anthem

Written By: Matt Hart / The 50 Shoes

O flat color on a flat-tire minute.
O plastic bird on piano bench leg.
O Red Beard, row. Row your boat.
boat, and
O say can you see the ripe blue flag,
the black & white feet along the water?


Main Street Voices / INKTANK (2006)

Set List

A full performance of all 50 "Shoes" takes 2.5 hours. A typical show includes 20-25 "Shoes" and runs about an hour. We have also performed shorter sets. All pieces are original, i.e. we do not perform covers. The order changes, but here is a set list from a recent full performance:

#30 - Full of Holes
#12 - Black Shoe
#27 - Mr Bliss
#6 - Depthcharge
#20 - Loan
#22 - Pair of Shoes - Right
#15 - Sparkling Dog Paws
#3 - Postscript
#16 - Fusions
#44 - Epithalamion
#32 - Fourth
#19 - 1X Love
#36 - Skunk
#29 - Timothy Soup
#41 - The Bells of King Church
#35 - St. Fuzz
#18 - Waxpaper Raincoat
#23 - Morning Collage
#17 - Hooked-In-The-Eye
#40 - Hell-o
#49 - Exhibit
#56 - Clump
#28 - National Anthem
#55 - I thought of you, and with a headache...
#1 - Prelude
#31 - Humbucking
#50 - Boring
#48 - Twenty-Nine
#63 - Stepping off into Air
#45 - Star
#10 - Death Camas
#38 - Bingo
#46 - The Interventionist Midwest
#11 - Putting Weight on These
#33 - Two Declarations