FLORENCE — On February 20, 2020, the World Health Organization let us know that one place outside of China was a hotbed for the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus.
"Of all cases outside #China, over 1/2 are among passengers on the #DiamondPrincess cruise ship.— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 20, 2020
The first passengers have now disembarked, providing they have a negative test, no symptoms and no contact with a confirmed case in the past 14 days"-@DrTedros #COVID19 #coronavirus
Local musicians told MTN News their story of cruise ship work during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how they’re working to usher in the sunshine here in Montana.
“I work on cruise ships and with the current pandemic, we are landlocked, so it’s going to be maybe even another year until I go back to work," explained Colby Dean, who works as an audio technician for cruise lines.
"It happened about a month ago, even to the day. It was March 14 that they put in a 'no sail' order, and that means we can’t be in the US waters by any means,” he added.
Dean said U.S. lockdowns prevented him from hopping on a flight back home.
“I ended up being stranded out there for two months off the coast of Mexico,” Dean said.
800 employees including Dean could not go home until everyone was completely symptom-less. After finishing a 2-month isolation period at sea, the employees got off the boat.
“I came back up to Montana, and moved here with my bandmate, and we started a band,” Dean said.
Joseph Baude worked as a DJ on an Australian cruise line but was on the mainland when the pandemic hit, telling MTN News many people he knew lost employment.
“There’s a lot of careers that were, that were just kind of axed,” Baude said. “Not only was entertainment really cut, but cruise ships specifically, and so that was hard, and so everybody’s adapting, as much as they can."
The pair decided they would adapt by touring Montana and showcasing cruise-style entertainment.
“So we kind of fought through it for a lot, worked a couple of odd jobs, and then we kind of realized people just want that feeling of a vacation again, and so that’s what we’re going to just keep trying to bring,” Baude said.
The band plays their island set when they have a gig, and their props on stage emulate a tropical vacation.
“So many people fought through so many hardships this past year, personally, financially, mentally. And so that’s really kind of what inspired us to bring because on the cruise ships, our motto was just—fun," Baude said.
Baude said their band name pays homage to everyone working normal jobs but still may have the tendency to stay up late to write a poem, draw a picture, or pick up an instrument.
“The group is called Hippie Dippie and the Hidden Hippies,” Baude explained.
The home base for the band is in Frenchtown, and MTN News caught up with them in Florence at the Rustic Hut.