BBC Pop Up, the British broadcaster's new "mobile bureau," spent December in South Dakota. BBC's Benjamin Zand spends a few days on Rosebud and Pine Ridge talking to young people (42% of South Dakota's tribal population is younger than 25) about their identity and aspirations.

Among those appearing in this video snapshot:

  • "America is a stolen country," says Justin Rowland, guide at the Wounded Knee Massacre site and descendant of Lakota people killed by the U.S. Army at the site 114 years ago.
  • Sicangu Lakota Shane Red Hawk has participated in Cowboy and Indian Allians protests against the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Willi White and Indigene Studios co-founder Angela White Eyes are working on their first major project, The People, a futuristic dystopian short shot entirely on Pine Ridge.
  • Scatter Their Own duo Scotti Clifford and Julia Brown Eyes-Clifford says their music "pays tribute to the concepts and philosophy of their Lakota culture while fusing Alternative Rock and Blues into what they would like to call Alter-Native Rock and Roll. They believe that their music celebrates Grandmother Earth." (Calm down, Sibby. It's just rock and roll.)

Last weekend, usury boss Chuck Brennan warned that we'd be party-poopers if we dared to pass an initiative to cap lending rates at 36% and effectively put him and other payday lenders out of business.

It turns out that was just a political head fake. Brennan announced yesterday he's having to postpone "Chuck's Kegger," his proposed Ribfest-challenging chili-and-music festival, not because of political pressure, but because he couldn't get his groups in a hoop:

Brennan said the inaugural Chuck's Kegger would be delayed and attributed the delay to scheduling problems with performers.

"Everyone is on board with the project but artists' schedules are hard to predict and the stars have not quite aligned yet," Brennan wrote in a statement posted Thursday on the event's website. "We appreciate the avalanche of support that we have gotten on the kegger and I'm sure there will be more news to come."

Planning for the event had been underway for around six months and included a website, logo, ticket prices and informational packets.

It's unclear when Chuck's Kegger will now occur, if ever.

Brennan did not return a call for comment Thursday [David Montgomery, "Week After Announcement, Rock Festival Delayed," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.12.19].

Oh, yeah, announce your music festival before you ink the musicians—brilliant.

Poof goes one empty threat from the nervous usury industry. Keep your eyes open for more as the interest-rate initiative gets rolling in 2015.

Tangentially related update (12:57 CST): No kegger, but more Keg: Keg Chicken is returning to Sioux Falls.


Dreamers in Spearfish are bringing the Passion Play Amphitheater back to life. Local organizers Scott and Mary Temple, Terri Dunwoody, and Zach Eixenberger has rechristened the 6,500-seat arena the Lookout Amphitheater and are doing real renovation to reopen the facility for meetings, reunions, speakers (can you say Chautauqua?), and big summer outdoor concerts:

The organizers said that there are a lot of details yet to determine, but Temple said they play to offer smaller events in the former ticket building at the top of the site starting this winter, with the full venue open next summer. They’ve discussed how the site could host weddings, receptions, meetings, old movie nights, speakers, graduations, reunions, concerts – “It is up to people’s imaginations what can be happening up here,” Dunwoody said. “Of all of the ideas the group has had as they’ve discussed its future.”

They want to model the amphitheater after other successful venues, such as Red Rocks, an open-air amphitheater in Red Rocks Park, Colo.

“Why reinvent the wheel?” Dunwoody said, adding that the group will work to model the success of other popular venues. Temple added that the group plans to cement working relationships with as many venues as possible, to help one another to get various bands and entertainment offerings to make this area a destination on their concert tours [Kayla Swisher, "Resurrecting a Spearfish Landmark," Black Hills Pioneer, 2014.10.17].

Red Rocks?! Heck yeah, dream big! Owner Rand Williams reminds us that the Passion Play was huge. For decades, big crowds flocked to the Queen City to watch Josef Meier re-enact the execution of a Jewish carpenter and troublemaker; why can't we imagine that thousands of people would come again for music and fun under the backdrop of Lookout Mountain at sunset?

I admire this sort of vision and ambition. At the same time, I am somewhat relieved to read in Swisher's article that plans for a giant Jesus sculpture on the amphitheater grounds have been scaled back. There's big, and there's too big.

Whatever shows come to the amphitheater, I can already spot my favorite seat in the house... which won't actually be in the house. Spearfish architects Andy and Shauntel Fett have built a rammed-earth bench up the hill from the amphitheater, just below the Thoen Stone monument. You may think bench-schmench, but the South Dakota chapter of the American Institute of Architects found the bench so remarkable that it feted the Fetts with a merit award for sustainable design and materials. The view from that bench of Spearfish and Lookout Mountain is more than enough reward for the mere quarter-mile uphill hike to the monument.


Like his chances of beating Mike Rounds, Rick Weiland's music videos keep getting better. The following video will air on KELO tonight at 6 p.m.:

"Big Wheel" is the best entry yet in Rick's musicopolitical œuvre. It squeezes all of the big policy issues into the lyrics, even EB-5. It makes hilarious fun of Nick the GOP tracker. It revisits the fast-flipping montage of towns Rick has visited all over the state, reminding us of his basic door-to-every-dang-door strategy. It works in imagery from Rickstock East, held just three days ago, showing his video crew is both professional and fast. And it shows Rick looking more authentic, caring, and down-home South Dakotan than wheezy fake-smile insurance salesman Mike Rounds ever will. It's a toe-tappin', South Dakota-lovin' thing of beauty

Let me focus on one image from this well-produced, well-themed, downright fun campaign song:

Rick in Iona

This shot, at the lyric opening, comes from Iona, South Dakota, population 1, near the River, north and east of Winner. The imagery is perhaps the perfect checklist of South Dakota iconography:

  • Blue shirt, blue jeans, blue sky.
  • Gravel road, stretching straight to infinity.
  • One man, one car.
  • Utility pole.
  • Trees sheltering a house amidst open prairie.
  • Corn field.

Rick wins Iona with this shot. As he and his crew set up this shot, Iona's lone citizen, a Democrat, came out and asked what was going on. She thought maybe Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson was out making a movie. Rick said no, it was just him, running for Senate.

Oh good! said the lone Ionian. Can I help?

Well, said the candidate, you could contribute nine dollars to my campaign.

Iona invited Rick to drop by the house when he was done so she could do just that. After the video shoot, Rick went over, and Iona handed him ten dollars. He offered to make change, but she told him to keep it and go win the election.

As goes iconic Iona, so goes South Dakota?

* * *

While Rick wins Iona, the GOP spin machine screams, "You own a BMW!!!" Ah, class warfare is always funnier when Republicans wage it.

But really, Pat? You want to whine about cars? Mike Rounds owns an airplane.


Remember that great fundraising concert that Dr. Kevin Weiland hosted for his brother Rick's Senate campaign? Well, if you couldn't make the drive to Piedmont, cheer up: Rickstock rides again!Rickstock East, October 5, 2014, Strawbale Winery, Renner, SDThe Weiland campaign brings a plethora of prairie talent to Renner's Strawbale Winery for Rickstock East on Sunday, October 5. Here's the musical line-up:

That's a lot of music for a measly nine bucks. Plus, your cash helps elect a Senator who's a lot more fun (not to mention more accessible) than that insurance salesman who wants the job.

Rickstock East! Bring your lawn chair, bring your spare change, and bring your friends!


Want a lieutenant governor with hustle? Vote for Susy Blake (and that Susan gal who's running with her)!

Around 2:30 p.m. CDT today, Blake posted this status and photo on Facebook:

"Having an amazing time and meeting wonderful people at the Eagle Butte Powwow!"

Susy Blake: "Having an amazing time and meeting wonderful people at the Eagle Butte Powwow!"

About six hours later, Blake posted this status and photo:

Susy Blake: "Rock'n to Boston!" FB photo, South Dakota State Fair, 2014.08.31

Susy Blake: "Rock'n to Boston!" FB photo, South Dakota State Fair, 2014.08.31

From powwow in Eagle Butte to grandstand rock in Huron in one day—Susy Blake may be the hard-charging South Dakota mom everyone can love. And I have more than a feeling that Blake keeps up this schedule on corndog power! We're ready, Susy! Don't look back! Keep on campaigning!


RickstockCrowd Hey, what are all those people doing in Dr. Kevin Weiland's yard?

Take It Back Band Why, listening to Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Rick Weiland and the Take It Back Band...

Rickstock2014 ...on a beautiful evening in the Black Hills.

Clean Water AllianceFolks at this show don't want any uranium mining...

Seamans Clanton...and these ranch men will have no truck with pipelines...

KurtzPipe ...but pipes are fine, especially with Kurtz classing up the smoking section.

BlogReadersatRickstockRick voters and blog readers are also cool with flower power and adult beverages in moderation.

WeilandatRickstockCandidate Weiland had a moment between sets to chat about the campaign. Before playing the big show Saturday at his brother Kevin's Piedmont place, Rick walked the Central States Fair parade through downtown Rapid City. Parade in the morning, working the stage and working the crowd all afternoon and evening (and before the sun dropped below the ponderosas, it was hot on that stage!)... you tell me who the hardest working man in the Senate campaign is!

Rick noted that the last time he marched in the Central States Fair parade (another campaign, another decade), he recalls folks actually booing at him. Saturday morning, he said parade-goers were cheering and stepping out to shake his hand. That's long-term momentum!


Rickstock isn't the only political musical extravanganza taking place in the Black Hills this weekend. To warm up for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's hearing on Powertech/Azarga's application to start an in-situ leach uranium mine in the southern Black Hills, Dakota Rural Action is hosting a pre-hearing concert and rally at the Allen Ranch near Hot Springs on Sunday:

  • Where: Allen Ranch, 13065 Fall River Road, Hot Springs, SD
  • When: Sunday, August 17, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Who: Music featuring Australian Wayne Brennan, Open Mike Band, plus other local artists.
  • Whee! Camping! Stay overnight and attend the NRC public comment sessions the next day…to reserve a camp site, RV site, or tipi call 605-745-1890.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) will take public input on Powertech/Azarga's application on Monday, August 18, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Mueller Civic Center, 801 S. 6th Street, Hot Springs, SD. Citizens may speak for up to five minutes on water, land, and historical/cultural concerns.

The ASLB then decamps to Rapid City for three days to hold its evidentiary hearing August 19-21 at the Alex Johnson Hotel, 523 6th St., from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We don't get to comment, but we can watch our neighbors make their case for protecting the Black Hills from more uranium mining.

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