Local Talent in the Badlands

The Badlands are alive with the sound of music, and it’s coming from local musicians.   As you might expect, country and bluegrass musicians play regularly in the region. That includes a strong element of rock, choral and even classical music. 

Famous local talent

Tigerlily music western nd

The sisters from Hazen are called Tigerlily.

kat perkins music

Kat Perkins

gwen sebastian music badlands

Gwen Sebastian


Dickinson musician Kristi Pechtl said, “The music scene is active as always, especially in the summer.”  She can quickly list the number of local musicians who are active on the national stage. She says Western North Dakota has produced acts such as Kat Perkins from Scranton, Gwen Sebastian from Hebron and Tiger Lily from Hazen.


The historically accurate renovated theater in Belfield has become a music hall for concerts in the little town. 

From there, head west a few miles to Medora which has always had a corner on the musical market, and it’s getting better.  



medora banjo player

On the sidewalk at Badlands Pizza in Medora.

In the summer, you might find a banjo picker strumming in the shade.



Just before the official opening of tourist season, visitors wander the streets of Medora for the annual bluegrass and barbecue weekend. 

Cottonwood at the Western Edge Bookstore

Cottonwood Blue Grass band played at the Western Edge Bookstore


Once tourist season is underway, music fills the hills. The world-famous Burning Hills Singers and the Medora Musical entertain tens-of-thousands of people every summer.

Medora Musical badlands burning hills singers

Watford City

It’s hard to find anyone in North Dakota who has not heard of Watford City’s Jessie Veeder. 

Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder

Following in her father Gene’s footsteps, she has exceeded his local exposure. Her weekly column from her family ranch in the McKenzie County is only one of her talents.  Her musical performances across the displays her down-home talents of the Badlands.

Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder is not only a musician but a writer. Her column appears in regional newspapers.

She said that in her time in the music entertainment industry she’s seen an increase in both the number of musicians and the places to perform. “In Watford City and Williston, there are more places to play,” Veeder said.

“The Watford City Area Concert Association is membership-driven,” she said. It’s an organization that she said introduces high-quality musicians to the region including like concert pianists. “It’s a good collaboration of places such as Watford City, Williston, Crosby, Hazen, and Dickinson.”

In the summer Watford City’s farmers market called “Watford Market” infuses live music into the open air collection of shops and merchants. 

“I’d like to see a lot more younger kids get out to play in coffee shops and safe spaces,” she said.

Available Venues

Williston Armory music

Williston’s historic Armory has been the traditional music venue for decades. (By JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23292035)

Finding or identifying available venues is a challenge in even Williston.  That’s why Music Coordinator Dee James says that more venues for live music are being added. She said churches often provide the acoustics and comfortable settings for music.  “We’re organizing the venues, especially in winter.”

James advises people who want to catch musical acts to pay attention to community billboards online, watch the newspapers and look for posters about town.

Movie-making comes to the West.

It’s not just music, but all types of entertaining talent are “out west.” At least two films have been shot in the Badlands. Now another one is planned.

We’ll write more

If you can steer us to musical entertainment, we’ll be appreciative.

Two questions, for you.

What are some up and coming musical acts we should know about?  What are popular venues in Western North Dakota?

Add your ideas to the comment section below.

We’re always looking for stories of things you know that add to the quality of life in Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana.  Subscribe up above to find out what we discover.

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Thanks for sharing the good news about this region.


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