The typically heavy Minnesota presence at the South by Southwest Music Conference looked to be lighter than normal this year. Now this.

The big buzz going around the Austin, Texas, rumor mill today – even bigger than ongoing Justin Timberlake murmuring -- is that Prince is going to perform there this week for the music industry’s biggest annual buzz fest. Some ever-Princely “unnamed sources” are reporting that the Purple Yoda will use the SXSW forces to line up a showcase Saturday night at La Zona Rosa, a 1,300-capacity venue with one of the city’s best light and sound systems (unlike the myriad bars that try to pass for music venues during SXSW).

Spin magazine cites one source that says he will have a 22-piece band with him, which would suggest an amalgamation of the different lineups he performed with over three nights at the Dakota in January. At the least, SXSW goers could expect to see him with his new all-female backing trio, 3rd Eye Girl, with whom he played Jimmy Fallon’s show two weeks ago. Another, less feasible rumor also has him scheduled to show up at the Austin Music Awards, where his longtime Latin rock cohorts Grupo Fantasma are already on the bill. And then there’s always the chance he just shows up in a limo but never once takes the stage, as happened at First Avenue this past weekend.

However, given all his other hints at a comeback so far this year, a SXSW performance actually does make sense even for our own Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, assuming he will soon have a record or two to promote. He doesn’t need help selling concert tickets, but his albums could use more respect and interest for radio professionals and music critics, who will be in abundance in Austin this week.



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