RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In a world where everyone seems to be cutting back, one of America's biggest musical events is bigger than ever. Of course it's in Texas and the South by Southwest Music Festival kicks off tonight for its 23rd big year in Austin.

(Soundbite of song)

MONTAGNE: We are hearing music from Los Claxon, "The Carhorn." That band is one of nearly 2,000 that have descended on Austin, a hundred more acts than last year, among them the Social Gloss, the Sonics, Amazing Baby, Bedouin Soundclash, and the Decemberists.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Traditionally, South by Southwest is a festival that cultivates new artists, artists who can find an audience and even maybe a record deal. That may be changing. One of the most anticipated shows this year is the band you are hearing now, the already well-known Decemberists, here singing "The Rake Song."

(Soundbite of song, "The Rake Song")

Mr. COLIN MELOY (The Decemberists): (Singing) And the bells rang for our wedding, only now do I remember it clear, alright, alright, alright.

MONTAGNE: The Decemberists will perform their new album, "The Hazards of Love," in its entirety tonight, and if you can't make it to Austin by tonight, you can still hear the show live at npr.org.

(Soundbite of song, "The Rake Song")

Mr. MELOY: (Singing) Only then did I reckon my curse, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, alright, first came Eziah with his crinkled little fingers.

MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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