There isn’t a facet of life that hasn’t been impacted in some way by the coronavirus, especially for bars and restaurants across the Bismarck and Mandan area.
With most of them shut down for the foreseeable future, that means local bands won’t be taking the stage anytime soon.
Taps are dry.
Glasses are empty.
And stages are silent.
All of these are victims of the coronavirus, and as nightlife as we know it grinds to a halt, that means there’s nowhere for local bands to play.
Jeff Andahl manages and drums for Fully Loaded, a rock band that performs quite a bit in the Bismarck area. He says being cooped up inside is torture.
“That is the worst part, just sitting around on the weekend and because it’s the greatest thing, to go out on the weekend and play and if it goes into summertime. We’ve got quite a few street dances scheduled and a lot of community events,” said Andahl.
The businesses that host those bands are also hurting, like at the Drink at Lakewood, a Mandan hotspot on Friday and Saturday nights. Now the only noise is the hum of the refrigerators.
“We have entertainment every Friday and Saturday, so those bands are getting canceled. We have karaoke on Wednesday’s so people aren’t being able to sing and let that energy out,” said Todd Pehtl, the General Manager of the Drink at Lakewood.
He says they’re losing thousands of dollars a day in revenue, but the crisis has brought out the best in people.
For example, the Drink is selling gift cards with 20 percent of the sales going to laid-off employees.
“I’ve sold about 20 of them, in good amounts too. They’re buying nice amounts because they know they’re helping the employees. They’re very loyal customers to the place and they know the employees are good,” said Pehtl.
But live musicians are hurting. Fully Loaded Guitarist Mike Johnson not only plays in the band but teaches guitar on the side, so it’s a double hit for him.
“Ohh man that’s probably about two-thirds of my income. Luckily I have my other job, but there’s a reason I have other stuff going on to help pay the bills,” said Johnson.
He added taht for many musicians, unemployment benefits are not an option because they’re self-employed.
It’s just another layer of problems Americans face in these uncertain times.