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SXSW Gears Up For 21st Run

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Whether you're looking for some of music's greatest living legends or the Next Big Thing, they'll all be found over the next five days in Austin, Texas.

Organizers of the 21st annual edition of the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference expect more than 10,000 musicians, songwriters producers, executives, booking agents, journalists and even just plain fans to converge on Austin for an annual rite that's been dubbed "the music industry's spring break." Among them will be the Who's Pete Townshend, who will deliver the conference's keynote speech tonight [cq wednesday] and perform with Sean Lennon, Martha Wainwright and others at his girlfriend Rachel Fuller's Attic Jam, part of a series of intimate and highly collaborative concerts.

Other big names taking part in this year's SXSW include: Emmylou Harris, who will be saluted at an all-star tribute concert Friday commemorating her forthcoming boxed set "Songbird;" rappers Ghostface Killah and Redman; Bloc Party; Steve Earle; veterans of the legendary Stax label, who will be celebrating the label's 50th anniversary; and upstarts such as Amy Winehouse, the Fratellis, Paolo Nutini, Lily Allen and The Good, the Bad and the Queen.

Queens of the Stone Age and Bright Eyes will also premiere their new albums, rather than perform, at the conference.

The metro area will be well-represented as well, led by Iggy Pop and the Stooges, who proudly list their home town as Detroit and are promoting "The Weirdness," their first set of all-new material since 1973. Also representing the Motor City at SXSW will be Blanche, Robert Bradley, Dennis Coffey, the Dead Bodies, the Deadstring Brothers, the Detroit Cobras, the Gore Gore Girls, the Hard Lessons, the High Strung, Outrageous Cherry, the Paybacks, the Procession, the Sights, Slot, SSM, Thunderbirds Are Now! and Tyvek. Ann Arbor will be in the house, too, courtesy of Tally Hall, NOMO and the Bloids.

Oakland Press music writer Gary Graff is in Austin to chronicle who's a buzz and who's a dud and who we should keep our ears open for in the coming year. Look for his reports in the SXSW section of www.goanddomichigan.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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