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Springsteen to give keynote speech at SXSW Music fest

Peter Mongillo

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen will deliver the keynote address at the 2012 South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival, event promoters said Thursday. Springsteen who released his debut album, "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." in 1973, will be one of the biggest names to have delivered the keynote in recent years.

"He's been on our wish list for more than 20 years," SXSW creative director Brent Grulke said. "I have never found anything that Bruce Springsteen has done less than extraordinarily compelling. He already has added a level of excitement."

Springsteen joins a group of high-profile figures from the music business who have delivered the keynote, including Johnny Cash, Bob Geldof, Quincy Jones, Neil Young and Smokey Robinson. Springsteen and his E Street Band remain one of the most popular acts in the music business.

Springsteen, who lost longtime friend and bandmate Clarence Clemons this year, recently announced a new album, his first since 2009's "The Promise," along with a world tour next year. There is no word on what form the keynote will take or whether he will perform in Austin.

Springsteen has a local connection in Austin-based musician Alejandro Escovedo , who has joined Springsteen on stage in the past.

The music portion of SXSW takes place March 13 to 18. Interactive runs from March 9 to 13, and film March 9 to 18.

Previously announced SXSW Interactive keynote speakers include humorist Baratunde Thurston , "cyborg anthropologist" Amber Case and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Featured speakers include Gawker Media's Nick Denton, scientist Stephen Wolfram, Spotify's Ken Parks and PostSecret creator Frank Warren.

Many of the featured speakers are well-known in the tech community, but none has the name recognition in the general public of Anthony Bourdain, popular author and TV host who will be speaking about the ways that he and his co-workers on his Travel Channel show "No Reservations" use technology and social media to engage viewers.

Additional material from staff writers Omar Gallaga and Addie Broyles.

pmongillo@statesman.com