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Even a lot of memorializing would not have been enough to pay tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had a profound and spiritual impact on Austin and its music; the Austin Music Awards will feature a salute to Ray Benson; our preview coverage of SXSW Interactive and Film gets under way with a tech-centric meditation by Bruce Sterling and an interview with Journeys With George director Alexandra Pelosi.

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Waylon Jennings died the other week, and one reader properly chastised us for not doing more on his death. It is always awkward when someone dies, especially a talent like Jennings, whose music had such a profound and spiritual influence on Austin. But even a lot of memorializing would not have been enough. Sometime after the maelstrom that is SXSW passes, I plan to write at length about Jennings. Honky Tonk Heroes, as much as any album, got me listening to contemporary country music and, without hesitation, I still regard its marriage of Billy Joe Shaver songs with Jennings' performance as one of the most exquisite works of modern music. One note: The letter implied that Jennings was very much a physical presence in Austin as well. This may have been true earlier or later in his career, but during the heyday of the "great Progressive Country Music scare" he rarely if ever played Austin. I know; I would have gone. As it was, I caught him at the Beacon Theater in Boston, at one of the most exhilarating shows I've ever attended. Folks who worked for him told me that the Austin police made it clear that this shouldn't be a tour stop. No suggestion of impropriety or coercion here; given Jennings' daily medicinal affections, busting him and the band would have been no problem. I offer this not as any kind of excuse for our coverage but as information I've always found entertaining.

This week kicks off our extensive SXSW coverage, with our writers tackling SXSW Interactive. I've known Bruce Sterling since he was the enfant terrible of the science fiction world. Now he is one of its most highly regarded elder statesmen, which is a sad fact we both have to face.

This issue also includes Marjorie Baumgarten's interview with the incredible Peter Bogdanovich, whose new film, The Cat's Meow, has its regional premiere at SXSW Film 2002.

SXSW week should be great this year. Wristbands are on sale at all Star Ticket outlets, and Film passes are on sale at Waterloo Video.

A very limited number of Austin Music Awards Show tickets have also gone on sale at all Star Ticket outlets. The show should be spectacular, with the Snobs, female supergroup Supergirls, Sixpence None the Richer, Spoon, and a special tribute to Champ Hood featuring Toni Price, among others. The show honors Ray Benson, Austin music icon and national legend, and Asleep at the Wheel. Special guests for that set include Jimmie Vaughan and Johnny Gimble, but expect some surprises as well.

One of the most eagerly anticipated films screening at SXSW Film this year is Alexandra Pelosi's Journeys with George. Next issue, there is an interview with her by Anne S. Lewis. The extraordinary interest in this wonderful documentary, which shows the very human side of our current president, has led us to post this story online early. Starting Monday, March 4, if you access this issue at austinchronicle.com/screens, you will be able to read the story online. The film really is fascinating, and its screening in Austin will be the first time more than a handful of folks have gotten to watch the finished film. It truly will be its world premiere.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Waylon Jennings, progressive country, Billy Joe Shaver, Austin music, South by Southwest, SXSW, SXSW Film, SXSW Interactive, South by Southwest Film, South by Southwest Interactive, Austin Music Awards, SXSW Music, South by Southwest Music, Bruce Sterling, Anne S. Lewi

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