In his crowded workshop fit snugly on the corner of Hudson Ave. and South Water Street in Peekskill, Earl Johnson works putting the soul back into lost and broken shoes. Known as the (the name of his shoe repair store) to locals, Johnson is one of the only shoemakers in town and offers much more than shoe and leather restoration and repair.
Johnson specializes in horse saddles and larger things like awnings, and is also a DJ, keyboardist and driftwood artist. Since he moved his shop to Peekskill from Beacon three and a half years ago, he has started a big band, ballroom music group called the Rhythm Brothers. The group is a DJ band that incorporates singers from around the region and musicians on the horns.
“When Johnny sings you would think Frank Sinatra is in the room with you,” Johnson said of singer John Forcelli, of Fishkill.
Johnson has a passion for the big band music of the 1940s. You’ll hear it playing in the background if you visit him at his shop, where large beautiful driftwood birds and other sculptures peer down on you from 10-foot high shelves, on which bags of repaired boots, purses and leather goods are placed.
“There are a lot of DJs here that play newer music and they leave out a whole generation. I’m reaching out to do a whole new thing and always thinking of how to add a new twist to it,” Johnson said.
He recently held a well-received event at the and is looking for other similarly ballroom appropriate venues to hold his shows, he said. Johnson hopes to rent a tent on the Peekskill waterfront this summer for a concert. He emphasized that the mix of recorded and live music provides a bigger sound with more instruments.
“I want to show Peekskill how nice it would be (to have a ballroom style show),” Johnson said.
Patch will bring you the latest on Johnson's next show.
The Sole Man Shoe Repair is located at 52 Water Street, Peekskill. It is open Mondays through Saturdays. M-F hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 to 3 p.m.