This year's South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival has been all about the 24 hours of Bruce Springsteen.

The Boss showed up after 11 p.m. Wednesday at the 30th annual Austin Music Awards at Austin Music Hall to sit in with Alejandro Escovedo and other Austin music legends.

"I wonder if there's one more guitar player in the house?" Joe Ely asked an expectant crowd. "We need another guitar player."

Sure enough, there was.

Jersey kid. Has a way with words and a certain degree of modest celebrity.

For once the rumors were true. Springsteen put a finishing flourish on the awards by joining headliner Escovedo, along with Ely and New York singer Garland Jeffreys for the climax of Escovedo's closing set.

Thursday morning the scene continued to buzz about Springsteen. Then it was finally, officially revealed that the Springsteen concert that night would be at ACL Live.

In the afternoon, Springsteen delivered wisdom to an overflowing crowd at the Austin Convention Center in a keynote address.

"No one really agrees on anything in pop anymore," Springsteen said at the beginning of his speech. "There is no keynote."

Springsteen weaved the theme of contradictions in identity and culture into a blow-by-blow of his musical education, beginning with Elvis Presley's 1956 appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Springsteen hit on several musicians that shaped his sound, a playlist of 20th-century music including the Beatles, Phil Spector and Roy Orbison.

One of the most powerful moments came with his mention of the Animals.

"The Animals were a revelation, the first records with full-blown class-consciousness that I heard," Springsteen said before playing an acoustic rendition of the band's hit song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place."

He spoke about Motown, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Bob Dylan, who he called "the father of my musical country."

Talk of Dylan led to country music and Woody Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this year. Then he led the audience in a singalong of "This Land is Your Land."

Springsteen offered advice for young musicians: "Learn how to bring it live and bring it night after night and your audience will remember you."

Springsteen's mesmerizing 24 hours in Austin continued Thursday night at the ACL Live concert.

A line formed when the doors opened at 6 p.m., with the theater slowly filling as Rhode Island folk band the Low Anthem took the stage. Alejandro Escovedo performed before Springsteen.

Because of the lottery system SXSW used to distribute tickets for the 2,750- capacity venue, many people were surprised just to be in the room.

"I called my mom as soon as I got the email letting me know I got a ticket," said local musician John Gaglio. A few lucky fans also got in by waiting outside the venue.

Across downtown on the stage Springsteen had warmed up the night before, Lil Wayne played an official showcase with expected guests Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, Lil Chucky and Cory Gunz.

TI was set to take the La Zona Rosa stage, Snoop Dogg showed up at the Maxim party on the Doritos Stage, and Pauly D of MTV's "Jersey Shore" showed up at the MTVu Woodie Awards Festival.

Not to be outdone, sightings of Kayne West began Wednesday night at the Belmont.

At the Paramount Theatre, the South by Southwest Film Festival premiered the documentary "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me." Big Star, the Memphis, Tenn., power pop band led by Alex Chilton is considered the ultimate 1970s cult rock band, beloved by a hard-core fan base and all but unknown outside it.

Chilton died in 2010, days before a Big Star reunion show at SXSW.

Thursday also marked the start of free concerts at Auditorium Shores with Little Hurricane, M. Ward and the Shins. Concerts continue tonight and Saturday from 1 p.m. until after dark.

Contact Nicole Villalpando at 912-5900

John T. Davis, Peter Mongillo and Joe Gross contributed to this report