Don't Miss Show Alert: It's been nearly five years since King Sunny Ade and his African Beats took to the stage at Cat's Cradle and reminded everyone there that juju music is still very much alive and kicking and every bit as relevant as it was when it sprang from the West African highlife scene in the late '60s.
The king returns Thursday, and if the record making the rounds (1982's Synchro Series) ahead of the tour is prelude, prepare to have a few bolts shaken loose.
Dozens and dozens of shows in Austin, yes, but one of the most stunning examples of how big SXSW is in its 19th year was the 15 or so pounds of swag in the "big bag" afforded all the registrants. Here are some highlights from this year's debris field:
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers earplugs; download cards from emusic, Creative Commons and iTunes; Lincoln-sponsored events schedule suggesting we "Check out the new Lincoln Mark TL (MSRP: about $40K) while enjoying great music"; two music mags with Conner Oberst on the cover; two music magazines with Beck on the cover; five more mags with Conner Oberst and Beck on the inside; program and invite to a free makeover at the NYLON mag beauty bar and showcase (my pores really needed it); special J-Lo issue of Blender with feature on the 25 hottest rock 'n' roll girlfriends ("See why millions of adolescent boys take guitar lessons, with our jaw dropping gallery of beauties"); coupon for $5 a day cell phone rental; guide to British acts; guide to Japanese acts; guide to Australian acts; brochure for Decoder Ring's Modest Mouse poster series; menu for Veggie Heaven (1914-A Guadalupe St.); brochure for expensive guitars noting that "Gorgeous Honduran Mahogany enhances the warmth and depth of the tone"; 10 percent off at Borders!; 11 sampler CDs of various origin and content; matches from Kerbey Lane Restaurant ("25 years: Thank You, Austin,"); example of the new Pearl Pack CD holder from Dering Manufacturing; Orange Billboard SXSW Booth C4 lighter with built-in bottle opener (note to Billboard: This kind of stuff gets confiscated at the airport these days); 20 or 30 little full-color, glossy postcards advertising everything from gear to beer; and a Navarre Corporation Hangover Survival Kit, which is a large, blue, pill-shaped container on a lanyard that includes an antacid and aspirin fizzy, two 325-mg acetaminophen tablets and the most important swag at any convention: a Wet-Nap brand moist towelette.
Big ups to Wet-Nap.