Fourteen states in four months.
It sounds like a standard itinerary for a touring band, but when a group of four independent musicians embarks on an East Coast tour later this month there will be one caveat: they’ll be walking the entire 1,600 miles.
The appropriately named quartet known as The Walking Guys, comprised of Brentwood resident Riley Moore, Benjamin Butler, Christopher Kessenich and Will Stevens, will plant their feet on the ground July 8 in Portland, Maine, and backpack their way on foot from gig-to-gig during a 50-show tour, which culminates in Nashville Nov. 9.
Along with recording a live album, the group will film a documentary during the journey, capturing every step, song, city and culture along the way.
The mammoth undertaking is anything but conventional, but for 24-year-old Moore, a Brentwood Academy graduate, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve always had an interest in experiencing life in a different way,” Moore said. “I’ve always been attracted to doing things out of the ordinary.”
From voluntarily spending six months homeless after college to walking up Georgia’s Stone Mountain backwards when he was 11 years old, Moore constantly finds himself leaning away from conformity.
“I’ve always just enjoyed doing unusual things and I kind of get bored by monotony and I just knew I’d regret it if I didn’t take this on,” he said.
Moore was hooked on the walking tour concept after Nashville resident and fellow songwriter Benjamin Butler pitched the idea to him a few years ago.
Using social media, Butler rounded up Kessenich, another Nashville songwriter, as well as Boston resident and musician Stevens, who quit his job to be part of the tour.
After breaking down the logistics and planning out their route on a spreadsheet, the group launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised more than $15,000 to cover the costs of hiking gear, video equipment for the documentary as well as lodging.
And when it comes to resting their weary feet after walking an average of 15 to 20 miles per day, Moore said they’ll occasionally rest at a hotel but will mainly be camping and relying on the hospitality of others.
“It’s been really great to see how generous people have been. We’ve even had some booking agents offer a place for us to stay,” he said.
The musicians will also act as their own roadies. They’ll be pushing their gear, including two acoustic guitars, a mandolin and harmonicas, in two oversized carts, which have been provided by Thule.
“They’re basically strollers on steroids,” Moore laughed.
For the next four months, the guys will be maneuvering those carts from city to city alongside state highways and roads — the wider the shoulder the better.
“I know there’s going to be some scary and close encounters with cars, but it’s just something that we’ll figure out as we go along,” he said.
From bad drivers to sore muscles, Moore is fully aware of the risks involved with the trip, which he expects will challenge him both physically and mentally.
“I know it will be filled with spontaneous adventures, but I’m sure some spontaneous issues will come up and definitely some hurdles and challenges that we’re going to encounter. I think there will certainly be times when I’ve been walking for miles, my feet are sore, I’m sweating, maybe we played a show the night before that was awkward and I’ll ask myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ ” he said. “But I’m just going to have to stay focused on the big picture and how great of an experience and memory this will be.”
Regardless of the risks, the tour will undoubtedly create a deeper connection between the group as well as their audience.
“We see it as a really great opportunity to connect with people along the way. More so than we would by touring in a bus or a van,” he said. “I think it’s going to give us a better platform to connect with the locals and connect intimately with each state while we walk through them.”