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South by Southwest: Why do Minnesota musicians keep going?

Even for a multimedia super-event that brings together gamers, filmmakers, music industry types, bands, designers, press, and what appears to be vacationing, scarf-clad bourgeois (on 80-degree days! slumming in the same food-truck lines as us hoi polloi!), the Austin festival s complications are… excessive. Just registering for our SXSW passes online was a 45-minute process, and lines for shows err, showcases are unpredictable. Varying kinds of credentials are issued, and it s rarely clear which lines you have to stand in and which you get to skip. After 18 hours on the road, and the additional runaround of securing a photo pass, photographer Adam Bubolz and I arrived at some Austin bar just in time to stand in a one in/one out line to see Poli a play in a gravel courtyard. It was a big letdown and an even bigger education in the sheer difficulty of navigating the sprawl that people now insist (was there a memo?) on calling South By. Twenty minutes passed, and we got in and caught most of Poli a s set. If any band can completely capture your attention at a venue that looks like someone s backyard barbecue, they can. But this year, Poli a as it an act as Minnesota has produced in the last few years weren t diving into the fray as hard as they had in the past.

We played just two shows this year at South by Southwest, says Poli a bassist Chris Bierden. We had the luxury of remaining very chill. We ve done the insane hustle before and were fortunate this time around to be able to keep it minimal. I wasn t overly ambitious with what I was going to try to do outside of performing and avoided the most irritating and claustrophobic elements of the festival.

But the SXSW hype vortex is unavoidable, and it can pull in even the very chill. Poli a s other Austin show was scheduled to follow a surprise reunion performance by El Paso emo/prog/punk legends At the Drive-In. Bierden and drummer Drew Christopherson made the mistake of going upstairs to get drinks, and security refused to let them rejoin their bandmates.

Our pleas that we were the next band and needed to get to stage failed to sway them though to be fair, we are not the most assertive gentlemen, Bierden says. So now we re standing there with two whisky sodas and a beer stressed and wondering how the hell we are gonna get our drinks to stage. Thinking quickly, Bierden stowed the beverages in his jean jacket. As we approach the back exit the security guard stops me, he says. A moment of blind panic I am known to crumble under authority. But he just stops us to inform us that we won t be able to get back in once we exit. Crisis averted. Many local bands, like 4OnTheFloor, followed Poli a s lead and limited their number of SXSW shows. But some big Minnesota acts, including Lizzo and Hippo Campus, played at numerous official and unofficial showcases throughout the week, ranging from local clubs to dimly lit conference rooms in Austin s Death Star-like Convention Center. It was there, surrounded by glorious, full-figured dancers in white, that Lizzo put on a consummately professional and passionate performance, even in a venue more suited for PowerPoints on market strategy.

But maybe no one hit SXSW as hard as Mike and Jim Blaha, best known as two-thirds of the Blind Shake. They approached the events with the disciplined intensity that marks all of their creative output, and between the Blind Shake and their two side projects Jim & the French Vanilla, Shadow in the Cracks they played nine shows, some official, some otherwise. After eight trips to the festival, they stick to venues that fit them and avoid most of the SXSW flow.

If you find your scene, it s cool, you see all the bands you know and tour with, says Mike Blaha. But if you want to get douchey, you can get there real fast. Adam and I closed our SXSW with a 1 a.m. Har Mar Superstar set outdoors at Check In Charlie s. It was Saturday night, and we were surrounded by exhausted SouthByErs packing in their final blowouts (and blow-ups). After Sean Tillmann and his R&B revue ripped through an hour of seamless grooves, dancers rushed the stage. Meanwhile the women slinging tacos from the food truck parked in the lot got drunk and rocked out to their junior-high Spotify list.

The last two years have been scaled back from the insanity it was, like it got to be so insane, people playing in this machine, Tillmann says of the event. I think South by Southwest has done a great job of reeling it in and making it more accessible. Tillmann opted to play shows elsewhere in Texas between his SXSW gigs, and at one Dallas performance that week, he was struck by the sight of a young woman in the front row wearing a sterilization mask.

Right during the last song, Lady You Shot Me, I held her hand for a second and I got paranoid that she might have the flu, he recalls. I asked, You aren t contagious are you? She said, No, I have cancer. And I broke down. It was during the last seconds of the song right before I kick back in and we had this crazy moment that put everything in perspective.

Har Mar was wrapping up Lady You Shot Me as Adam and I left the club, trying to beat the rush of people trying to catch bicycle rickshaws through what Mike Blaha called the human/zombie 2 a.m. thing. As we were negotiating with our driver, Cheshire, I turned to see hundreds of people running full speed around the corner from what might have been shots fired. I grabbed Adam to say, Get your camera, but Cheshire shouted, Get in now! and we complied.

At least one person in Austin was making good decisions that week.

GAO to review security costs of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

  • How much is security costing the government when President Donald Trump goes to his Mar-a-Lago resort? The Government Accountability Office aims to find out. Reuters is reporting the agency will also look into how classified information is kept secure at the Florida resort. GAO is conducting the review after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns. (Reuters[1])
  • An Obama-era contracting regulation is being thrown out by the Trump White House. President Donald Trump overturned the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule requiring companies disclose violations for 14 labor law protections that occurred in the past three years. Critics say the regulations amounted to blacklisting contractors. (Federal News Radio[2])
  • The Air Force will meet with airline companies in May to try and stem its pilot shortage. Pilots are moving from the service to commercial airlines instead of reenlisting, causing a deficit of more than 600 pilots. The Air Force hopes to create a public private partnership that will be a win-win for both the service and the airlines. (Federal News Radio[3])
  • President Donald Trump s nominee to be the next secretary of the Air Force will have to cut several business connections before taking the job. Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) was already expected to give up her salary as the president of the South Dakota School of Mines, but according to ethics forms disclosed[4] on Monday, she would also have to divest herself of investments in 16 separate Defense contractors. Her ethics agreement also pledges to sell holdings in three other firms, including Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. Wilson is set to go before the Senate Armed Services Committee for her confirmation hearing later this week.
  • An online job portal offered by the Labor Department was breached. America s JobLink is a multi-state web-based system rrun by America s Job Link Alliance Technical Support. AJLA-TS said a third-party hacker exploited a vulnerability in its code and the names, Social Security Numbers and birthdays of job seekers in 10 states have been compromised. (America s Job Link Alliance)[5]
  • The Internal Revenue Service experienced problems with its system for assuring identity of taxpayers who file online. Weaknesses in the program known as IP PIN mean taxpayers continue as victims of fraud from misuse of Social Security numbers. The Tax inspector general said IRS should have shut down and replaced the six-digit identifier system after a 2015 security breach. The IG made five recommendations for improving program management, including an authentication risk assessment. (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration[6])
  • Federal shop stewards used slightly more official time in fiscal 2014 than in 2012. That was the last time the Office of Personnel Management published a governmentwide report on official time. Employees used a little less than 3.5 million hours, less than a 1 percent increase since 2012. Thirty-seven agencies reduced how much of it employees used, 20 agencies used more. (Federal News Radio[7])
  • The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board has new leadership in its C-suite. Suzanne Tosini is the board s new chief operating officer. She s spent time in the private sector and at Treasury s Office of Financial Stability and at the Consumer Financial Protection Board. Ranita Anderson is the board s new chief technology officer. She most recently comes from the National Institutes of Health. She also s been at the Defense Department and NASA.
  • The White House s new Office of American Innovation will take on one of the stickiest wickets in government procurement. The administration announced the new office, to be led by Jared Kushner, the President s son-in-law and special adviser, yesterday. Kushner will bring in private sector expertise to figure out how agencies can buy technology better. The office also will modernize federal agency IT and identify transformational infrastructure projects. The President said in a memo that the office will scale proven private-sector models to spur job creation and innovation. (Federal News Radio[8])


  1. ^ Reuters (
  2. ^ Federal News Radio (
  3. ^ Federal News Radio (
  4. ^ ethics forms disclosed (
  5. ^ America s Job Link Alliance) (
  6. ^ Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (
  7. ^ Federal News Radio (
  8. ^ Federal News Radio (

Bremerton councilwoman to fight DC arrest charge

Bremerton Councilwoman To Fight DC Arrest Charge

Leslie Daugs(Photo: Contributed photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs, arrested in January on a charge of disrupting Congress[1], has been offered a plea deal by federal prosecutors in the nation’s capital. The deal would allow dismissal of the criminal charge if she performs 32 hours of community service in Washington state. But Daugs isn t taking it.

I m going to fight this, Daugs said Monday following her arraignment at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse in Washington, D.C. I feel very optimistic.

Daugs was arrested by Capitol Police[2] Jan. 31 during Senate confirmation hearings for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, now the country s attorney general. Daugs said, This is bull****, in response to two men who she said were being disruptive by high-fiving and fist-bumping in support of Sessions. She was escorted out of the hearing and arrested before being released the same day.

(Daug s) behavior disrupted and interfered with the Senate proceedings and the orderly conduct of business, Metropolitan Police Officer Eric Jeter wrote in the report of her arrest.

Bremerton Councilwoman To Fight DC Arrest Charge

The police report chronicling Leslie Daugs’ January arrest in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Contributed photo)

Daugs disagrees that Sessions hearing was disrupted by her actions and questions why the behavior of the two men went unnoticed by police.

I don t feel I disrupted Congress, she said. Nothing in that room stopped. The deal offered by prosecutors also would require Daugs to avoid being arrested again in the next four months, take a drug test and stay away from the U.S. Capitol. But Monday, she rejected that offer.

Leslie believes it is worth the risk, her attorney, Mark Goldstone, said in an email. The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Daugs next court date is set for June. She noted her attorney also will be filing motions to dismiss the case on various grounds as well.

It is illegal[3] “to utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or to engage in any disorderly or disruptive conduct” on the grounds of the Capitol. Daugs, along with three others, was arrested during the Judiciary Committee’s hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

News of her arrest has divided the Bremerton council[4]. Some members support Daugs and believe she is being singled out; others see it as a distraction that affects the reputation of the City Council. Daugs, who said she has stepped up her political advocacy since Donald Trump was elected president, had noted in an email to the City Council office before going to D.C. that you never know if I might get arrested for protesting. She said the arrest was not my finest hour but also believes she s speaking up, as a woman and a Filipino-American, for those who do not have a voice. Daugs was in D.C. in January with her husband, Daryl, who was attending meetings in his work as head of Habitat for Humanity of Kitsap County. She works as a security guard at Mountain View Middle School in East Bremerton and is the head of the local chapter of the Service Employees International Union[5].

Daugs said Monday that she s been encouraged by supporters and plans to take the case to trial.

I feel very positive moving forward, she said.

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  1. ^ charge of disrupting Congress (
  2. ^ Capitol Police (
  3. ^ It is illegal (
  4. ^ has divided the Bremerton council (
  5. ^ Service Employees International Union (
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