Husband, wife and son

husband, wife and son



February 09, 2021 @ 12:00am

Local Musician’s Career Affected by Covid-19 Pandemic

Shutdown and restrictions to businesses keep musicians from performing, making a living

Since its inception, the KWW/CF has enjoyed a close supporting relationship with a number of sectors including labor, hospitality industry, restaurants, and especially those from the music industry. Like others, hit hardest have been those associated with the entertainment industry. Recognizing this KWW/CF has reached out to them with most having lost their primary source of income due to the COVID19 pandemic.

Derek Ramnarance, performing with his band, Old Soul Society. Photo credit: Dylan Overhouse


“While artists and musicians historically have struggled to balance traditional jobs also in pursuit of their musical interests the pandemic has in most cases eliminated both their secured employment and has severely limited their music venues, said Tim Bruer, Chief Spokesperson. One of the many examples is singer/songwriter, Derek Ramnarace.

In a normal calendar year, Baraboo, WI-based singer/songwriter Derek Ramnarace would play around 200 shows across the midwest, either solo or with his band Old Soul Society. As a full-time musician and a single father of three children, Derek relied on those performances to provide for his family. Without warning, his 2020 show calendar became a fragment of what it was supposed to be when the Covid-19 pandemic reached the United States.

The entertainment industry came to a screeching halt as performance opportunities were drastically reduced. Indoor music venues faced capacity limitations, making it impossible to remain open, while outdoor music festivals with large gatherings of people were canceled across the country in an effort to curb the spread of the infectious disease. Many of those entertainers work day jobs in other service industries, so they have been doubly impacted.

Many musicians like Ramnarace were able to play a handful of outdoor shows where wide-open spaces allowed for proper social distancing by attendees. In mid-October, while dining outside at the Tumbled Rock Brewery in Baraboo, WI, Chief Spokesperson of the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund Tim Bruer happened to catch a Ramnarace solo performance.

“I was impressed by Derek’s music, and by how gracious he was to be playing in front of a supportive crowd,” said Bruer. “He radiated positivity, even as he shared the dire nature of his 2020 performance calendar with the crowd.”

Ramnarace had to step outside of his comfort zone to find new musical revenue streams and expand his skill set.

“My anxiety levels went through the roof as I scrambled to figure out how I was going to generate income to keep a roof over my kids’ heads and food in their bellies,” said Ramnarace. “Being from Wisconsin and losing opportunities to tour meant that we had to look for ways to diversify, and I feel very fortunate to have such a strong home base here in Wisconsin to help us, or else we would not have been able to pay our bills this past spring.”

Like many musicians, Ramnarace went online to offer guitar lessons and to perform Live Stream shows as a way to connect to his audience and to provide for his family.

“I learned how to do multi-camera live streams with high definition audio and video,” said Ramnarace. “Online tips and donations have been a huge help to me so I would definitely encourage people to donate whatever they can to their favorite artists because every little bit helps.”

Live stream shows and a handful of socially-distant in-person performances weren’t enough for Ramnarace to make ends meet. He was forced to tap into savings that had been set aside for a future family vacation, as well as money previously earmarked for recording a new album. He was also given a financial contribution from the Madison Area Music Association’s MAMA Cares program.

The descension of winter upon Wisconsin brings new challenges to entertainers as the constant threat of Covid-19 infections create safety concerns for indoor shows, and as outdoor performances are no longer an option.

“We are all losing our gigs again as the temperatures drop,” said Ramnarace. “I may have to travel south to find opportunities to generate income for my family.”

“We live in an old house and even with every possible weatherproofing measure we take, the heat bill will be huge,” said Ramnarace. “That was not something I had to deal with when the first shut down happened, because it was consistently getting warmer at that time.”

Even though Ramnarace has had his share of struggles this year, he does recognize some positive takeaways from 2020.

“I spent more time with my kids,” said Ramnarace. “Overall, I am just much more appreciative of the many things that I sometimes took for granted. I was reminded of the inherent goodness that exists inside of people, individually and as a community,” said Ramnarace.

“I have personally benefited from the kindness of others and I have an overwhelming need to pay it forward. Please be kind to each other and we will get through this together!” To show support for Derek Ramnarace and his band Old Society please visit

Since being founded in 1996, the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool fund has helped over 13,100 musicians in need, and that number is certain to increase through the 2020-2021 winter months.

Derek Ramnarance, performing with his band Old Soul Society. Photo credit: Kyle Hilker, Shatter Imager

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