Y’all. This is the coolest thing I’ve heard about in a long time. When I found out about The Walking Guys, I HAD to get their story and pass it along to you, beloved readers. What in the world am I talking about, you ask? Well, allow me to introduce you to Ben Butler, Chris Kessenich, Riley Moore, and Will Stevens, all independent musicians who are joining forces and going on a four month/1,600 mile turn together. And Y’all. They’re WALKING it. That’s right. They’re walking it. I met up with Walking Guy Chris Kessenich recently at local hangout Pinewood Social to get the scoop:
Eo8: How did this idea of a walking tour come about?
CK: Ben Butler had the idea about two years ago; he’s an adventure-type guy who’s always wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail, and he’s a musician, so he decided he’d like to combine the two passions and walk across the country playing shows. He posted on a random Facebook group in Nashville about three months ago, and I just happened to see it; he was talking about doing an adventurous tour. I love outdoorsy adventure things, and I thought now was the time, so I hit him up. Ben had had about 15 people contact him about the adventure, but then would drop out when they found out about the walking. When he finally told me the plan, I was speechless at first. I figured if this dude was confident enough to walk for four months just to play his music, he’s serious about it. I’m a firm believer in surrounding yourself with proactive people who are trying to make things happen. I really couldn’t think of a reason not to do it. Ben contacted Will, who lives in Boston, who went to Berklee School of Music, has a wife and steady job, whom he’d met through a mutual friend, and invited him to join the tour. He called back three days later and said he was in. We were so pumped. Riley, Ben’s friend, had known about the tour idea since the beginning, and once he heard we were all in, he decided he couldn’t miss it.
Eo8: I heard you conducted a Kickstarter campaign. How did that go?
CK: We hit our goal! We’ve gotten a ton of random and crazy support. People donating money, offering to let us stay with them on the road, it’s been wild. Someone just sent us a Go-Pro they weren’t using. We’re trying to do a documentary and a live album with it too, and it will definitely help us accomplish that. And pay for our food. We’re freaking out, we’re so stoked. We’re going to be able to do it all without going into debt.
Eo8: What instruments will you take on the road?
CK: All four of us play guitar; we’re basically three independent solo acts with a guitarist supporting us. We’re going to start writing and playing together as well, it’s very much a musical journey. We’re only going to bring two, maybe three guitars and a mandolin, although none of us really play mandolin. We’ll learn. It’s going to be us all playing our individual songs, like a writers’ round feel at the start, but we’re envisioning it becoming a more cohesive show. We don’t really know, we’ll have to figure it out along the way!
Eo8: How will you pack? What will you pack? Toiletries? Bug Spray?
CK: There are a lot of little things we haven’t prepped for, it’s going to be a huge learning experience for sure. We’re basically taking two changes of clothes, maybe three. We actually have sponsors! It’s the coolest freaking thing. Saucony is providing us with all of our shoes, they are sending shoes once a month to the venues we’re playing or to the nearest post office where we’ll be. Swiftwick is providing our socks. Fleet Feet is sponsoring us, and they hooked us up. They are providing us with gear, these crazy cotton clothes you can wear for weeks without washing, so hopefully we won’t stink. I’m not too worried about it, I’ve been told by the ladies that they like my natural musk. I’m totally kidding.
Eo8: You are heading to Maine on July 8th, and then from there you start walking. What else will you be doing?
CK: Two of us are meeting one of the guys for the first time in Maine, and we’re spending a weekend in Portland, playing three or four shows. What’s crazy is we have nothing to do when we’re not walking. We’re planning to walk about six hours a day, but then the rest is free time where we’ll have nothing but our guitars and each other really. It’s going to be much simpler lifestyle, focusing on walking and making music. For the live album, we want to record our songs as we go, in a raw and live setting, featuring artists or musicians that we meet along the way. If we’re in New York, and we find a busker playing sax on the street corner, we’re going to be like ‘hey buddy, can we play this song in G and give you a solo, and you let it wail?’ We’re really stoked about that.
Eo8: Are you nervous about anything?
CK: I’m nervous about getting hit by a car. We talked to a guy who walked across the country who told us we have to be very comfortable with almost getting hit by a car once to twice a day. Not afraid of wildlife really, or crazy people.
Eo8: Where will you sleep?
CK: We’re going to camp, we don’t have any housing booked. We have certain places where we’ve booked house shows and people we know along the way who’ve offered to let us crash with them. The plan is to roll into town, alert the authorities that we’re there, tell them what we’re doing, and ask if we can camp somewhere, like in a local park. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll find a firehouse and see if we can sleep there.
Eo8: Have you had trouble finding venues who’ll book your show?
CK: Yes and no; we don’t really have a draw yet, but we’re trying to build some buzz about this cool thing we’re trying to do. There’ve also been some venues who are all over it; a show promoter found out about us and she’s been super helpful, reaching out to book us shows just because she’s really excited about what we’re doing. That’s been one of the best things about all of this, the unabated and crazy support we’ve received from so many people.
Make sure you find The Walking Guys when they come to your town and show them some love! Keep an eye on social media for updates on show locations:
7/8 – Portland, ME / Dogfish Bar & Grille
7/9 – Portland, ME / Andy’s
7/10 – Portland, ME / Acoustic Artisans
7/11 – Biddeford, ME
7/12 – Wells, ME
7/13 – Portsmouth, NH
7/14 – Portsmouth, NH / The Press Room
7/15 – Seabrook, NH
7/16 – Willowdale, NH
7/17 – Seabrook, NH / Chop Shop Pub
7/18 – Boston, MA
7/19 – Boston, MA / Cuisine en Locale
7/20 – 7/21 – Boston, MA
7/22 – Providence, RI
7/23 – Fall River, MA
7/24 – Newport, RI
7/25 – Newport, RI / house concert
7/26 – 7/27 – Newport, RI
7/28 – Block Island, RI
7/29 – Montauk, NY
7/30 – East Hampton, NY
7/31 – Hampton Bay, NY
8/1 – New York, NY
8/2 – Brooklyn, NY / Bushwick Public House
8/3 – New York, NY
8/4 – Brooklyn, NY / King County Saloon
8/4 – Brooklyn, NY / The Way Station
8/5 – 8/9 – Appleton, WI / Mile of Music Festival
8/10 – New York, NY / Flatiron Hotel
8/11 – New Brunswick, NJ
8/12 – 8/13 – Princeton, NJ
8/14 – Trenton, NJ
8/15 – Bensalem, PA / Mugg’s on Main St.
8/16 – Philadelphia, PA / The Nail
8/17 – Philadelphia, PA
8/18 – Philadelphia, PA / Raven Lounge
8/19 – Chester, PA
8/20 – Wilmington, DE
8/21 – White Clay Creek State Park, DE
8/22 – Rising Sun, MD
8/23 – Darlington, MD
8/24 – 8/25 – Bel Air, MD
8/26 – Overlea, MD
8/27 – 8/29 – Baltimore, MD
8/30 – Arlington, MD / Cabaret at Germano’s
8/31 – Hyattsville, MD
9/1 – 9/3 – Washington, DC
9/4 – Newington, VA
9/5 – Dumfries, VA
9/6 – Fredericksburg, VA
9/7 – Pendleton Golf Course, Ruther Glen, VA
9/8 – 9/9 – Doswell, VA
9/10 – Glen Allen, VA
9/11 – 9/12 – Richmond, VA
9/13 – Colonial Heights, VA
9/14 – Dinwiddie, VA
9/15 – Lake Rawlings, VA
9/16 – Southside Virginia College, VA
9/17 – Alberta, VA
9/18 – South Hill, VA
9/19 – North Bend Park, VA
9/20 – Henderson , NC
9/21 – Franklinton, NC
9/22 – Wake Forest, NC
9/23 – 9/24 – Raleigh, NC
9/25 – 9/26 – Durham, NC
9/27 – Chapel Hill, NC
9/28 – Chapel Hill, NC / Johnny’s 901
9/29 – Swepsonville, NC
9/30 – Elon University, Elon, NC
10/1 – 10/2 – Greensboro, NC
10/3 – 10/ 5 – Asheville, NC
10/6 – Hendersonville, NC
10/7 – Spring Creek, NC
10/8 – 10/9 – Greenville, SC
10/10 – Williamston, SC
10/11 – Anderson, SC
10/12 – Iva, SC
10/13 – Bowman, GA
10/14 – Colbert, GA
10/15 – 10/17 – Athens, GA
10/18 – somewhere on Highway 78
10/19 – Loganville, GA
10/20 – 10/24 – Atlanta, GA
10/25 – Marietta, GA
10/26 – Cartersville, GA
10/27 – Adairsville, GA
10/28 – somewhere on Highway 41
10/29 – Ringgold, GA
10/30 – 10/31 – Chattanooga, TN
11/1 – Prentice Cooper, TN
11/2 – somewhere on Highway 41
11/3 – Tracy City, TN
11/4 – Hillsboro, TN
11/5 – Beech Grove, TN
11/6 – 11/7 – Murfreesboro, TN
11/8 – Antioch, TN
11/9 – Nashville, TN