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2. Alex Chilton tribute
March 20 at Antone's in Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009, The Chicago Tribune
Alex Chilton's (pictured) death as the South by Southwest Music Conference opened cast a pall over this 24th annual gathering of the music tribes. The late-night, conference-closing slot was originally set for Chilton's Big Star, the Memphis band that made three albums in the '70s, then faded into obscurity, only to endure as a guiding light for countless guitar-based pop and rock bands in subsequent decades. The performance instead turns into a wake and a tribute. The remaining members of Big Star -- founding drummer Jody Stephens and bassist Andy Hummel (who would die a few months later), and Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, who joined in the band's '90s comeback incarnation -- carry on in Chilton's name with a host of guest stars, including M. Ward, Evan Dando, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, and Chris Stamey. It's a night of glorious songs performed with bittersweet conviction.