The Band “Walden” Toured 50 states on $50. How Did We Do it?

Sometimes life happens in funny ways. One second you’re quitting your stable day job at age 23 to start managing a hard rock band – a dream you’ve had since you were 10 – and the next moment the entire world is on lockdown due to a global pandemic. Nearly every independent musician, along with most other people, hit the struggle bus unbelievably hard; your first management client breaks up due to factors beyond your control; you find yourself staring into the mirror in your childhood bedroom asking “what now?”

A few months go by and you’re on a nationwide tour with 5 of your best friends, whom you met earlier that year, adventuring all over the country in a van, producing live music in all 50 US states, and finally feeling like the manager you had dreamed of being one day.

Let’s rewind.

It’s January 2021 and my friend introduced me over text messages to the band Walden, an incredibly talented quartet that had been making music together for around 9 years. We zoomed for a few hours, hitting it off instantly.

The band had moved to Nashville at the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic and was in search of a new manager. So, while visiting a friend of mine in March 2021, I invited the guys to grab drinks. The band came out to meet me for a beer at Rosemary & Beauty Queen, rolling with all four members. We had an awesome chat, talking about life, music, touring, and everything in between. 

For starters, Walden had formed their senior year of high school in 2012, getting serious while students at the University of Georgia. Formerly signed to Paradigm, the band played hundreds of shows between 2012 and 2020, including festival performances at Bonnaroo, Shaky Knees, Sloss Music & Arts Festival, and Summerfest to name a few. Things were looking bright for these dudes, whose on-stage energy and chemistry were next-level. But then the Pandemic came sweeping in and disrupted everything for independent musicians. Walden found themselves without any team, limited funds to record and produce music, and a bleak outlook on the future. 

With the limited money and resources the band did have, they began self-producing and released a few singles in 2020/2021, as well as a music video. They were itching to come out of this dark period and play to people in real life once again.

After learning about their extensive concert history, and their adventurous personalities, I threw an idea at them. “You guys have fans scattered around the country, tons of experience on stage, and own a van perfectly designed for touring. Why don’t you book your own tour?” Vaccines for Covid-19 had just become available that month and live music showed a pulse for the first time since it came to a halt 1 year prior.

After my basic pitch, I stepped away to use the bathroom. Upon returning, I learned that in the 90 seconds I was gone, the guys took my little idea and sprinkled on some extra ambition. They were all-in for a self-booked tour but dreamed of making it happen all over the country, with a show in all fifty US states. I thought to myself “these guys are crazy, and I love it.” With a relaxed demeanor, I nodded my head and said “nice.”

It’s now April 2021 and the band called me to let me know they came up with the tour’s name – the “Where’s Walden Tour” (WWT) – where they will tour all 50 states starting on a $50 budget (since that was the balance in their business account at the onset of this idea, no joke). They commissioned the Japanese agency IC4 Design to create a tour poster and then took the initiative to email venues, secretly booking a kickoff show on September 10th in their original hometown of Atlanta at The Vinyl, and another “anchor date” in NYC on September 22 at Mercury Lounge. And with that, 2 out of 50 states were booked for the WWT. Things just got real. 

Where’s Walden Tour Poster designed by IC4 Design

The guys were on the hunt for someone to help manage this campaign, as well as a publicist and social media manager. For the next 2-3 months, we would hop on zooms to brainstorm ideas. With my background in promoting concerts and managing finances for artists, I wanted to add value wherever I could, acting as a sounding board and helping them flesh out their wild ideas.

Then, in July of 2021, I visited them for a show in Nashville – their last one-off gig before the big tour in the fall. I spent 5 nights sleeping at their house, met their families and friends, helped set up the show, and quickly integrated myself into the Walden ecosystem. That night, they absolutely killed their set, leaving me and 150 others stunned by their performance. Moments after the final chords, I saw a line forming by the merch table and sprung into action – selling merch, schmoozing with fans and venue staff, and tearing down the stage before loading out for the night and ultimately driving the guys home. That night, I became the band’s manager and agreed to hit the road with them in the fall. 

Fast forward.

It’s September 10th, 2021 and we are loading up our wonderful van, “Vanny,” the MVP of the WWT. My college buddy Sam agreed to serve as our photographer the whole way through, proving to be a key member of the team. Our friend Shelby took on the reins (remotely) as our social media guru. We had shows booked in 15 states – leaving 35 states to plan – and what would turn out to be the most epic 90 days of our lives right in front of us. 

The band + Matt & Sam

I remember feeling such a sense of awe at our first show. All these lovely fans came out to get down with Walden in their hometown of Atlanta; we sold just under 200 tickets. I wanted to help in any way I can – getting water for the band, selling merch all night, and getting to know the venue staff. We had inked a partnership with the brewery Narragansett, with whom we made custom beer cans using our tour poster, and they sent us 5 cases of their classic lager at our first show, keeping us plenty hydrated the next few days.

With our friend Sam behind the camera (he became known as “Sam with the Cam”), we documented the entire journey. We posted content to Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook regularly, helping keep our fans in the loop while gaining new fans along the way.

We played 21 shows over the first 28 days of the tour. Madness! Between crashing on floors and couches, eating Taco Bell late at night, trading off 3-hour driving shifts, and beginning to see the entire United States of America, we were living out our dreams.

No two shows were the same; we played in around 15 traditional venues, with hard ticket sales and a (usually) legit sound system. The other 36 shows (we did 51 in total, with 2 in California) would require us to use our own sound system, for which I would often manage the sound (a useful skill picked up on the road).   

While we were high on life the first few days of the tour, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. During our third show, at an Art Gallery in Richmond, Virginia I got the news that two of our upcoming shows were canceled – one in Pennsylvania and one in Connecticut. I panicked! This was the first moment on tour where it felt like I needed to act fast to save the day, or else… So I spent the second half of our Virginia show sending emails with the subject line “Urgent booking request – Where’s Walden Tour 9/17.” Once we got into Vanny that night after the show, I broke the news to the guys that our Philly show – planned for 3 days from then – had been canceled, as well as our Connecticut show in 10 days. 

Then – and I can’t make this up – a venue owner in Philly emailed me at 1:13 in the morning saying “Call me.” 

What happened next were two of the most fun shows of the tour – “Lastmunitepalooza” in Philly (which we booked entirely in 48 hours with 3 local bands, Walden as headliner, and 80 satisfied ticket buyers) and a college show at Uconn in Storrs, Connecticut at Ted’s bar.

Throughout the tour, and to this date, people would ask us “how on earth did you book all these shows? In truth, it was a mission. From day 1, we knew that we would have our “anchor dates” – major city markets where we knew we could sell tickets in a traditional venue. Before we hit the road on September 10th, we had booked venues in cities including Atlanta, New York, Boston, Ann Arbor, Denver, and Los Angeles, as well as breweries or bars in 10 other cities. Meaning that we had 15 out of 50 states booked by the time we hit the road. We were very much building the boat while sailing, as the saying goes.

Much of our booking efforts came from each of us sending out hundreds of emails to potential venues around the country. Yelp became our best friend, helping us identify places that host live music. We spent much time navigating Facebook groups designed for the local music scene in order to network with the local bands. Oftentimes, I would Facebook message a venue since typically the owner would respond. I even picked up the phone and called several dozen (or hundred) venues directly. It was a scrappy mission, but we somehow achieved it. A few shows were booked with less than 48 hours’ notice, and we often played for tips and dinner. But no matter what, our mission was to tour all 50 states.

One of our favorite experiences of the tour was trading a private concert for a free white water rafting trip in West Virginia. Eric, our keys player and co-lead singer, posted on his Instagram story to see if anyone he knew had a friend that was a rafting guide in the southeast. And low and behold, we met Nate, who is a guide at ACE resort in West Virginia. After some straightforward conversation, he took us on the most epic rafting trip of our lives, and in exchange, the band rocked out to 100+ rafting guides and locals the same night. I may or may not have hopped on guitar after their set to keep the jams going.

Two of the most important elements of this tour that fueled our mission and made our efforts possible were fan donations and merch sales. The band got creative when designing our website,, giving fans an option to donate to specific items to help the tour. For instance, we had a merch store item called “Treat the band to a hotel room,” and “Treat the band to dinner.” These were strategically priced to roughly match the actual cost of the expense, allowing fans to actually help finance the tour. Without getting too granular with the numbers, our fans’ donations total helped put our tour numbers in the black, making the entire operation a profitable success. 

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked us if we were really going to do Alaska and Hawaii, I could have financed the whole tour myself. Countless people questioned us, trying to instill doubt and a lack of hope. But this did not stop us from finding a way. Weeks leading up to each of those shows, we added a bucket on our merch store for fans to help pay for our flights. We created the Alaska and Hawaii funds, which each helped us raise over $1,000 to pay for flights. We booked shows just like we did in the lower 48 – through cold outreach and sheer hustle.

In fact, we had one fan who was so excited that we made it to Hawaii that he donated a decent chunk of change for us to go on an adventure while on the island. The morning of our show at Workplay in Honolulu, Eric – easily the most thrill-seeking Walden man – pitched us on going skydiving. We had discussed this idea earlier in the tour, not expecting to actually make it happen. It was 9am, our show was at 7pm, and the closest skydiving facility was an hour away. We called and managed to lock in their final plane of the day – a noon jump.

We quickly got ready and booked it for Waialua. To say jumping out of a plane thousands of feet in the air with your best friends was a blast would be an understatement. Somehow I ended up being the first to jump, and within 2 seconds of freefalling, I felt completely alive. Looking all around me, I gained a new perspective on the earth and felt totally at home. I turned onto my back 90 degrees, looked up, and saw all of my friends jumping out after me, one by one, in what felt like a perfect synchronization. We all landed safely, high-fiving each other and hanging with our guides, feeling like we just conquered the world.

Next thing you know, I checked my phone and realized we were going to be late to soundcheck. Quickly shifting into manager mode, I made sure we all got our footage swiftly and hit the road, unsure of what to expect for our Hawaii show.

Hundreds of people came out for the free event, on a Wednesday night, and rocked out to Walden. It was such a beautiful sight. We can’t thank Phil from Workplay enough for making it all happen.

I could go on forever about the tour, sharing the silliest and most epic of stories. More importantly, I wanted to leave you with some of the lessons I learned along the way (and some of my favorite pics).

First off – and this might sound broad – but dream big. This tour was a serious undertaking, which took courage, commitment, risk, and a willingness to fail. We had dreamed up a lofty mission and, ultimately, saw it through. 

Next, always have faith in yourself. I can’t count how many times I woke up from a nightmare leading up to or during the tour, worried it would all fall apart. And at any moment it could have all ended. None of this would have been possible if one person did everything by himself. We delegated responsibilities and leaned on each other to make it all happen – maintaining a constant conviction in our abilities and mission. If it weren’t for the team we built, and the dynamics we established along the way, the whole operation would have failed.

Additionally, do not be afraid to ask for help. If it weren’t for all of the friends, family, and fans across the country who hosted us on their couches and floors, fed us hot meals, bought tickets and merchandise, and made connections that helped us advance we wouldn’t have gotten close to accomplishing our mission. We tapped into our entire network to make it happen, asking for people’s support every step of the way. The loving community around Walden is the single most important reason we succeeded.

Lastly, live in the moment. This is easier said than done, especially when you have a massive pile of work that needs to get done in order to move forward. But I think back to several moments of the tour – whether it was hiking in Yosemite, skydiving in Hawaii, or simply driving through the middle of the country looking out into the distance – where I just took everything in with complete awe at what we had accomplished thus far. Even if we didn’t make it all the way, and do all 50 states, the memories we made from the very first day will be cherished for a lifetime. To think we actually did the whole tour – and made money while doing it – was a blessing and a miracle.

Having penned this story and experienced this adventure, my hope is to be able to inspire others to set out after their dreams and find fulfillment in this adventure called life. I encourage anyone who reads this and wants to learn more about the tour to get in touch with me or the band at our contact info below. We have endless stories to tell and lessons to share.  

After the tour, our friend Ari Herstand – who runs “Ari’s Take” – featured us on his podcast. This interview gets into details about how we pulled off the tour and shows you a glimpse of the personalities behind the band. The interview can be seen here:

We also released a music video leading up to our EP – “Waiting for the Moment” – including footage from all over the tour. This was directed and produced by Sam with the Cam – his final parting gift to the band. Our friend Jamie took it to the finish line, and the result is simply magical.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you for reading this far. Below are some of my favorite pics from the tour for your viewing pleasure – hope you enjoy 🙂 

To get in touch with Matt/Walden, they can be reached at and


Faith Zapata, Regina Pimentel, and Wesley Preis // miles I can’t afford (Q&A)

Faith Zapata, Regina Pimentel, and Wesley Preis have come together to produce a work of art in the form of their latest...


Nashville-native MC Jordan Webb describes “Number 9” as “a song about embodying who you’re trying to become, even...