Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inspired by the original Waldo.

When schoolmates Richard Becker, Eric Hangartner, Jamie de Lange, and Andrew Mendel first formed a band in late 2012, it was both as an act of alliance and defiance. Having been recently introduced to the transcendentalist works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, these four friends were determined to leave the safety net of their Atlanta suburb for a life of unconventionality, marching (quite literally) to the beat of their own drum. The band was named Walden, as a nod to Thoreau’s Walden Pond, and thus began their grand adventure.

The band’s path proved unconventional indeed. Beginning with a show in the corner of a local Pizza Hut in Athens, Georgia, the four-piece soon found themselves on the stages of historic venues like the Georgia Theatre. After college, the band went on to play many notable shows, playing alongside the likes of artists such as Moon Taxi and Twiddle. the band also saw performances at Summerfest, Kaaboo, and two performances at Bonnaroo. 

Then, sometime around the year 2019, Walden lost its way. With the pressures of success in a modern music industry rising, the band resorted to the standard formula for indie artist success; release music, play shows, and be active on social media. Well (surprise, surprise) it didn’t bring them success. In fact it left the four friends feeling emptier and more demoralized than ever before. This was not the lifestyle of adventure they had hoped and dreamed for. They felt cheated.

When the 2020 pandemic hit, the band was hit with some harsh realities and left with plenty of time for reflection on their past 8 years together. It had became abundantly clear there was no time to waste. If they were going to create the life they wanted for themselves, it needed to happen now.  No more waiting for algorithms. The band had always dreamed of a life of travel, a life filled with adventure and people and places… and it was up to them to create that for themselves.

And so the idea was born: a tour of all 50 U.S. States on a budget of only $50. An idea just crazy enough to work. Don’t be fooled by the scale of the challenge though; the simple act of attempting this feat means Walden is living out its dream.