The impact of COVID-19 on North Dakota musicians


The music industry is cut throat and with the pandemic hitting it’s even more so for local musicians trying to make a name for themselves.

Natalie Eslinger has been singing, playing guitar, and piano for as long as she can remember. She’s been working non-stop on getting her name out there, but the pandemic hit her hard.

She is a solo artist and the lead singer of Frantic Anarchy and tells KX News, “When I was younger I sang outside to my kittens–that’s where it really started. My parents would make fun of me because I was singing in hoses.”

In 2017, Natalie made the move to Montana to jump-start her career. She performed in open mic nights and built up a strong fan base.

“Right away it was a little bit harder–but I’m definitely someone that’s a social butterfly and I like networking and it might have came a little easier to me because I kept meeting more and more people and getting more and more shows,” says Eslinger.

She moved back to North Dakota to keep pursuing her passion. She was booking shows, gaining more fans, and just when it seemed like she was finally making it… COVID-19 hit.

“I’ve only played one live–wait no–2 live gigs– but other than that our band gigs got cancelled–I had to cancel everything else and that’s a big income loss. It’s been a huge change for every musician in town.”

Unlike some local musicians, Eslinger says she isn’t completely dependent on her music career for income, but she tells me it’s still not the same.

Eslinger says, “When you work so hard to get where you were to get out of a certain part of what you didn’t want to be in and then switch back–it’s kind of interesting. I was telling one of my fellow employees the other day you go from a rockstar to cooking burgers in just a couple of months.

Solid Rock Music, one of Eslinger’s favorite music store in the area, has recognized these local artists’ struggles and showing support even while they have problems of their own.

Owner of Solid Rock Music Matt Markel says, “I’ve been trying to help them out as much as I can–through all of this and get them some of the gear they need at a better price and just you know until they get back on their feet.”

As businesses and bars are slowly opening, Eslinger says she’s happy to see the music scene open back up a little.

“It’s been very emotional to see live bands again– and it definitely makes you not regret it and not take it for granted and its an awesome thing,” says Eslinger. “I hope that a lot of other people appreciate live music again too.”

For now, all she can do is scream from the top of her lungs and ask…

“What”s goin on?!”

Eslinger says social media has been her saving grace and tries to post as much as she can for her fans to stay in contact.

To check out more of Natalie’s music, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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