Train Don’t Run – New Video from Steve Louw

Steve Louw and his band Big Sky appeared with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998 as featured in the Oscar-winning film “Searching For Sugar Man“.

Here is the official video for “Train Don’t Run”, created by Jacqui van Staden. From the album “Headlight Dreams“, produced by Kevin Shirley and released 7 May 2021.

… my favourite track on this album is the almost proggish “Train Don’t Run”. Clocking in at seven and half minutes this is an epic tune that you hope never finishes. There is a soaring guitar solo by Rob McNelley that David Gilmour fans will love. No surprise to discover that this track was mixed on the same console as the classic “Dark Side Of The Moon“.

Brian Currin
Headlight Dreams review on AllMusic.com

Stream/download “Headlight Dreams”

https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams

STEVE LOUW ONLINE

http://stevelouw.com/
https://instagram.com/stevelouw/
https://twitter.com/stevelouwmusic
https://facebook.com/stevelouwmusic/
https://sptfy.com/stevelouw
https://apple.co/3iKTV9g

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

My grandfather was a railroadman and in the 1930s my father rode trains looking for work. To me, trains symbolise our attempts to bend nature to our will – and we’re seeing that trying to do that will never work. Silence will always return to the plains, the wind will blow, tracks will crumble and the earth will breathe again. This song has the wide open plains in it; dry cracked earth and a broken land.

The song builds from a driving acoustic guitar and hypnotic bassline to a haunting guitar solo by Rob McNeeley. The production (by Kevin Shirley) brings out the relentlessness of the song and of what we inflict on our planet.

Steve Louw

TRAIN DON’T RUN
(Recorded February 27, 2020)

The wind blows across empty plains
That hold so many bones
The rails glow years since the rain
Horses roam on broken stones
Train don’t run round here no more
Train is gone for us all

Put down a coin on the track
Saw silver turn through black
Seeds thrown all come back
Haunt the earth broken and cracked
Train don’t run round here no more
Train won’t come for us all

I can help you cross if you’ll let me
Spirits roam across this broken land
What’s been lost you can see
Count the cost can’t understand
Train don’t run round here no more
Train is gone for us all



Have you got your ticket to watch MEX21? Online until 2 Oct

Music Exchange turns 10
WATCH #MEX21 ONLINE NOW

Lauded and awarded for its consistent commitment to the broader South African music industry, #MEX21 runs until 2 October 2021, with a wealth of quality international and local speakers.

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online


Our Keynote speaker, from Australia, is Michael Smellie. He speaks about the seven deadly sins of the music business. Michael’s career in the music business spans more than 25 years. He has worked across five continents as former Global Chief Operations Officer of Sony BMG, Asia Pacific Head for BMG, and Managing Director of Polygram and rooArt in Australia.

Michael is an investor, adviser and board member to many start-ups’ creative businesses in Australia and the United States and is currently the Board Chair of the Music Council of Australia.


Stuart Rubin, from New Zealand, speaks about the importance of the song and looking to legacy for wisdom and inspiration as well as unpacking Elvis 30 Number 1’s and Neil Diamond. In 2001 he moved to New York, becoming Senior VP International for BMG. Following the merger with SONY, three years later, Stuart was made Senior VP International of Commercial Marketing.

Stuart’s interview reveals a person fascinated with people, whether they are artists or music lovers. With his long experience in selling music to a global market, and as an A&R professional, he delivers a unique perspective on the industry.


Gasant Abarder, the author of Hack the Grenade, columnist, and former editor of the Cape Times & Argus speaks to the Cape Town reality for artists and his take on the media landscape in both print and online.


We speak to legacy with producer Greg Cutler, an engineer from London; regarding his relationships with Harari, Hotline and Rabbit, bands that shaped the SA sound that we know and love today.

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

The #MEX21 speaker line-up includes, but is not limited to:
Michael Smellie – Chairman of Music Australia – Australia
Jason Grishkoff – Founder SubmitHub – USA
Stephen Werner – Station Manager @ KFM – RSA
Stuart Rubin – Former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG – New Zealand
Gasant Abarder – Author, and former editor at Independent Newspapers – RSA
Gillian Ezra – Group Head of Commercial – simfy africa, MusicTime, Ayoba
Phenyo Gasebonoe – Digital Content Manager at Ayoba, Africa’s first Super App – an all in one Instant Messaging Platform – RSA 
Greg Cutler – Producer engineer visionary proud ambassador of SA Music legacy – UK
Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA
RJ Benjamin – Artist – RSA
Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online



Gillian Ezra – Group Head of Commercial – simfy africa, MusicTime, Ayoba 


Phenyo Gasebonoe is a Digital Content Manager at Ayoba, Africa’s first Super App – an all in one Instant Messaging Platform -RSA

 
Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA


RJ Benjamin – Artist– RSA


Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA

Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

#MEX21 talks deliver on what MEX is known and respected for by delivering quality conversations that lead to quantifiable outcomes. In partnership with 

Ticketpro
Paul Bothner Music
Western Cape Government
AYOBA 
and the City of Cape Town 

#MEX21 hosts entertainment industry thought-leaders and game-changers in 30-to-60-minute presentations on the Ticketpro streaming platform.
 
For a mere R100 investment, per ticket, #MEX21 delegates will enjoy an all-access pass to the full  conference, comprising a series of unmissable keynote addresses and international thought leadership sessions from some of the most relevant and revolutionary minds in the business.
 Secure your ticket and watch here:
https://tickets.heroticket.co.za/thero/shops/985c875Click here to secure your tickets & watch online

For booking details, and more information, go to musicexchange.org.za

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact:
Martin Myers @ MEX
martmyers@gmail.com
083 448 4475


In association with the City of Cape Town

In association with the Western Cape Government Cultural Affairs and Sport

MUSIC EXCHANGE (#MEX21) SPEAKS TO THE ENTERTAINMENT ECONOMY 

MUSIC EXCHANGE (#MEX21), South Africa’s preeminent entertainment-economy-invested conference, returns this September for the 11th consecutive year, hosted by Ticketpro.

Lauded and awarded for its consistent commitment to the broader South African music industry, #MEX21 will run from 11 September to 2 October 2021, with a wealth of quality international and local speakers.

Some of the topics #MEX21 will unpack, in detail, include our streaming reality, the platforms generating engagement (Ayoba) and driving artist’s incomes (SubmitHub), right through to the importance of heritage (MEX Chairman), the state of radio in South Africa (KFM), and just how artists are rebuilding and morphing in response to the pandemic (RJ Benjamin).

Our Keynote speaker, from Australia, is Michael Smellie. He speaks about the seven deadly sins of the music business.

Michael’s career in the music business spans more than 25 years.

He has worked across five continents as former Global Chief Operations Officer of Sony BMG, Asia Pacific Head for BMG, and Managing Director of Polygram and rooArt in Australia.

He is an investor, adviser and board member to many start-ups’ creative businesses in Australia and the United States and is currently the Board Chair of the Music Council of Australia.

Stuart Rubin, from New Zealand, speaks about the importance of the song and looking to legacy for wisdom and inspiration as well as unpacking Elvis 30 Number 1’s and Neil Diamond.

At the height of his career, he was Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG. Stuart’s career in music started in New Zealand in 1976 with PolyGram. 

He “crossed the ditch” to Australia and held several senior marketing roles in PolyGram and BMG, before moving to Hong Kong in the 1990s where he became BMG’s VP of International Marketing for the Asia-Pacific region. In 2001 he moved to New York, becoming Senior VP International for BMG. Following the merger with SONY, three years later, Stuart was made Senior VP International of Commercial Marketing. 

Stuart’s interview reveals a person fascinated with people, whether they are artists or music lovers. With his long experience in selling music to a global market, and as an A&R professional, he delivers a unique perspective on the industry.

Gasant Abarder, the author of Hack the Grenade, columnist, and former editor of the Cape Times & Argus speaks to the Cape Town reality for artists and his take on the media landscape in both print and online.

We speak to legacy with producer Greg Cutler, an engineer from London; regarding his relationships with Harari, Hotline and Rabbit, bands that shaped the SA sound that we know and love today.

Despite the past 18 months being the most challenging in MEX’s decade-plus dedication, investment and global outreach, Music Exchange 2021 (#MEX21) is opening its annual industry-focused indaba to the world come 11 September 2021.

Over the past 11 years, MEX has actively informed, partnered and brokered with some of the biggest and most influential players and institutions, with the sole purpose of elevating, educating and sharing a wealth of learning from all four corners of the planet and 2021’s #MEX21 commits to being no different.

If anything, #MEX21 is offering everyone, directly or indirectly professionally affected by the pandemic, an opportunity to explore the possibility of change, with speakers who exemplify talent, success, and perseverance at a time like no other.

MEX has welcomed and hosted the likes of composer Dr Trevor Jones, musician and producer Bryan Michael Cox the Orchard’s Ben Oldfield, Mark Murdoch, Mos Def, Tim Renner, Rachel Z, Tom Novy, Karen Zoid, Siphokazi Jonas, Christian Wright from Abbey Road, Arthur and Charles Goldstuck and Moreira Chonguica among many more, all in an impressive lead up to this year’s impressive list of confirmed speakers.

The #MEX21 speaker line-up includes, but is not limited to:

Michael Smellie – Chairman of Music Australia – Australia.

Jason Grishkoff – Founder SubmitHub – USA.

Stephen Werner – Station Manager @ KFM – RSA.

Stuart Rubin Former Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Sony BMG – New Zealand. 

Gasant Abarder Author, and former editor at Independent Newspapers – RSA.

Greg Cutler – Producer engineer visionary proud ambassador of SA Music legacy – UK.

Melissa Conradie – Music industry specialist, publicist, booker, radio plugger – RSA.

RJ Benjamin – Artist – RSA.

Sipho Mabuse – MEX Chairperson and Artist – RSA.

With more names to follow, #MEX21 talks will deliver on what MEX is known and respected for by delivering quality conversations that lead to quantifiable outcomes.

In partnership with Ticketpro, Paul Bothner MusicWestern Cape Government, AYOBA and the City of Cape Town.

 #MEX21 will host local entertainment industry thought-leaders and game-changers in 30-to-60-minute presentations on the Ticketpro streaming platform.

For a mere R100 investment, per ticket, #MEX21 delegates will enjoy an all-access pass to the full 11-day conference, comprising a series of unmissable keynote addresses and international thought leadership sessions from some of the most relevant and revolutionary minds in the business.

Martin Myers, founder, and convener of the conference remarked “2021 is another big year in Music Exchange’s history. Our collective and ongoing investment to help influence, adapt, evolve and remain relevant in a massively compromised economy sits at the heart of all we do.”

Follow us on Facebook to get breaking announcements, as they happen.

Secure your ticket and watch here:

https://tickets.heroticket.co.za/thero/shops/985c875

For booking details, and more information, go to: musicexchange.org.za

For more information and interview opportunities, please contact:

Martin Myers @ MEX

martmyers@gmail.com

083 448 4475

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 12 by Steve Louw

I’d been anticipating recording another album for more than a year. I’d been looking forward to working in Nashville my whole life. 

I have always been fascinated by the sound of the records made in Nashville. Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, Neil Young’s Harvest and R.E.M.’s Document were all albums that had a great sound, and a great feel, each recorded in that great city. They all sounded like a bunch of people having a good time, making great music together. I knew I would be working with people who were at the top of their game. I wanted to make an album that sounded just like that. 

A couple of months before I was due to head to Nashville, I pulled into Calvinia, my dad’s hometown, a dusty dorp in the Northern Cape. I stopped outside a large house that had been the high school from which he had graduated in 1932. I had been here two weeks before, at the start of my motorbike trip. Eight thousand kilometres later, I was glad to be back. It felt like the dust and the space of the Karoo plains had seeped into my soul. Soon I would be working with Kevin in Nashville, after the long break since we had recorded Trancas Canyon


I thought of how we all set out on a road ahead, and who we would meet on that road. My grandfather had ridden across these plains, as part of a horseback commando against British soldiers. My father had left, on a train for Johannesburg, and returned home in a Whippet motor car, seven years later, to see his family, before enlisting in the Air Force and joining the Second World War. My brother had left on a jet plane, one that had never returned. 

My father had played music on this school stoep. I had played music in bars and on stages. In ancient times, the San assembled where this town now sat and looked across these plains divining their mythology in the billions of stars above them. They made music, on gong rocks and sang, soothing their spirits. 

Dinosaurs walked where I now sat, crossing a large inland sea. Ancient spirits walked with me, as I walked out of the town, and onto the plains. The moon rose, backlighting “DeToren”, a mountain where Settlers had captured and persecuted San nomads. I had ridden a long way, and I was glad to be back where I’d started. I walked into town, climbed on my iron horse, and headed for the city lights to realise Headlight Dreams.

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead #12

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

Steve Louw launches new video for “Get Out My Heart”

Steve Louw – Get Out My Heart

The official video for “Get Out My Heart”, created by Jacqui van Staden.

From the album “Headlight Dreams”, released 7 May 2021.

Stream/download “Headlight Dreams” at https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams

STEVE LOUW ONLINE

http://stevelouw.com/
https://instagram.com/stevelouw/
https://twitter.com/stevelouwmusic
https://facebook.com/stevelouwmusic/
https://sptfy.com/stevelouw
https://apple.co/3iKTV9g

THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG

I like the opening line: “I’d rather walk than drive another mile with you.” Two people who can’t figure out if they love or hate each other, or both . . . It’s different to all the other songs but the in-your-face vocal, acoustic guitar riff and weird time signature sucks you into their personal mayhem. I only had the “get out of my heart” line when I started writing this song, singing along to power chords and a Bo Diddley-type beat, and later wrote the verses. I thought of the song as a rocker and a cry in the dark. We played it that way live and it went down well but I felt the song was too linear for the lyric and I put it aside. About a week before going into the studio I tried playing and singing the chorus in a different time signature and suddenly the song took on the mood of the lyric, which is pretty dark – and the story came into stark relief. Once we got the time signature nailed down in the studio I found I could sing the lyrics with the space it needed. I love the sound of the vocal.

Steve Louw

GET OUT OF MY HEART
(Recorded February 28, 2020)

I’d rather walk than drive another mile with you
More dead than alive, I need room to move
To get you out of my heart, won’t you let me be
Right from the start, you let me bleed
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

No way of knowing if this turns out bad or good
Got to get going, I’m heading for the woods
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

You set me free, and I keep crawling back
Only thing that we do, stay on this one-way track
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’re apart
I can see I was blind

I’m lying across this cold empty bed
I’m not feeling lost, I’m sleeping like the dead
First time since the start that I got peace of mind
Stay out of my heart
For the last time
Keep you out of my heart
Keep you out of my mind
Since we’ve been apart
I can see I was blind

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 11 by Steve Louw

Pat Thrall called me from Atlanta in September 2003, where he was working with EurythmicsDave Stewart. They were coming to Cape Town and wanted to record with local musicians, in preparation for an album and concert to raise funds and global awareness to help fight the AIDS tragedy. I knew Dave Stewart as a great producer, musician and songwriter, and I looked forward to them coming to Cape Town.
 
Brian May walked into UCA, carrying his red guitar by the neck, plugged into a VOX AC30 amp and the sound of Queen filled the room. He was adding guitar parts to a track that Dave had finished the night before. Pat had called me that morning, laughing. “You lucked out Steve, after you left last night, Dave decided to work on the track you guys did together and it’s come out great! He is going to finish it today.”

Amandla – 46664


I stood backstage at the Green Point Stadium on the 29th of November 2003, where 40 000 people had to come to watch the first-ever 46664 concert. Johnny Clegg was singing “Asimbonanga” and “The Crossing” to Nelson Mandela in the audience. It was a riveting performance and a highlight of the concert. We had sat in the sunshine, outside the rehearsal venue, the day before and spoke about the years since 1985, when we had played together, the death of my mother, South Africa, and Johnny’s upcoming US tour. When he walked off stage, I hugged him. “You’re out the van, and in the big tour bus after that, Johnny!” We laughed, happy to be together on such a great night.
 
I had been on my farm for a few weeks working on my songs in early 2019 when I heard a crazy buzzing outside the window where I was sitting writing. I got up and looked up into the eaves at a watermelon-sized blob of hanging buzzing bees about to move into a new home. There were bees everywhere, and I locked down all the windows to keep them out. I phoned my buddy who was a beekeeper to come around and help me out. He calmly stuck his hand into the middle of the swarm, extracted the Queen, put her in a wooden box, and watched as the whole swarm followed her in. It was sunset, and I had the tag for the song I was working on. “You’re my Queen, my Queen Bee maybe, I’ll stick with you ‘til the sun goes down.”

Steve Louw – Queen Bee Maybe

 
I love the sound of a Hammond organ and its rotating Leslie speaker working together. Steve Winwood, Richard Manuel, Benmont Tench and Kevin McKendree can each make that sound. I heard it as Kevin played his solo on “Queen Bee Maybe”, the first song we recorded in Nashville in February 2020. I knew then that we were going to have a great time making this record. 
 

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead #11

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

“Sixto” by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce

Liberia Ballad by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce
“Sixto” by Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce

I am Ernest Bruce (Ernie Bruce), a singer living in Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa).

In collaboration with the Swedish group Orjan Hilten Orion, we recently released an album entitled “Liberia Ballad… Orjan Hulten Orion featuring Ernie Bruce” The album does include a song that is dedicated to you, and tells your story. It was originally written by Orjan, the leader of the band, and is an instrumental on the group’s album Faltrapport.

The band met me while visiting Liberia on invitation from the Swedish Embassy…there was an instant exchange of artistic creativity, and Orjan asked whether I would write some lyrics for the song “Sixto”.

We are all pleased with the outcome of our collaboration, and are simply making an effort to make you aware of it and, hopefully, enjoy it. While the album is now available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and others.

Blessings to you in all your future endeavours.

https://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/orjan-hulten-orion-featuring–ernie-bruce-liberia-ballad

Ernie

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 10 by Steve Louw

It felt like my nervous system had been flayed from my body, stripped bare and draped over my shoulders, that I had been recalled and rearranged.
 
The world stopped turning in November 2001. My mother had died in a violent attack in her garden in Cape Town, and it felt as though I couldn’t speak. I headed for Cape Saint Francis, a place that feels as if energy lines converge on a point in the sea where great waves consistently break. I couldn’t speak, but I could sing, and I wrote most of the songs which would become the album, Beyond The Blue, in about ten days, in a rented house on the beach. I poured myself into music, it was all I could do, and singing and writing the songs felt healing. I knew I had to get back to the studio to record the songs and get out and play live. 

Steve Louw in studio recording Beyond The Blue with (from left) Blondie Chaplin, Kevin Shirley, Steve, Keith Lentin, Adam Holzman, Pat Thrall and Anton Fig.
Steve Louw in studio recording Beyond The Blue with (from left) Blondie Chaplin, Kevin Shirley, Steve, Keith Lentin, Adam Holzman, Pat Thrall and Anton Fig.


Kevin was there for me, and two months later I was with friends in Englewood, New Jersey, in a studio converted from a hundred-year-old railroad station. Anton Fig, Blondie Chaplin and Keith Lentin, all from South Africa, and Pat Thrall and Adam Holzman. Anton, Pat and Adam had all played on “Destiny”, the track we recorded for The Best Of The Decade, and it was a great play with Blondie and Keith, both of whom I had been a fan of since seeing The Flames and Hammak, in Cape Town, 30-years ago.
 
After a couple of days, we finished the record and Kevin and I headed out to Long Island, where he had a beach cottage. We tore around the back roads in his sports car, body surfed, drank and laughed. He slowly put me back together.
 
He was packing for London, moving and upgrading his gear in preparation for the gig of mixing Led Zeppelin’s live concerts, which would become the album and DVD “How The West Was Won“. He signed the one-page letter agreement and looked at me. “I never thought I would see my name next to Led Zeppelin’s in a contract!” He scribbled his signature, “Let’s go for a drink!”


 
It was Spring 2019 when I rode down, down the rocky path from the Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, back toward the Karoo plains. I had been following the Orange River for 3000 km from the Augrabies Falls, back to its source in The Highlands. The power of nature was all around me, and the massive cliff drop-offs scared me. Riding alone in a remote place brought the surroundings into sharp focus. “I’ve crossed rivers, that were just dry sand, asked for deliverance from this promised land” (“Heavy Weather”). Rob McNelley had been sitting playing his red Gibson 335 as we tracked “Heavy Weather”, and as he started playing a solo, he stood up, lent into the guitar, and the notes wailed across the room.

Steve Louw – Heavy Weather


 

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 9 by Steve Louw

Rodriguez arriving in Cape Town, 2nd March 1998
Rodriguez arriving in Cape Town, 2nd March 1998

Rodriguez walked into the UCA rehearsal studio in Cape Town, grinning, looking fit and healthy, despite having just got off of a flight from Detroit, leaving the freezing winter behind him. It was the 5th of March 1998, the day before the first show of Rodriguez’ sold-out arena tour of South Africa, and the first time he had ever been to South Africa. There was a media frenzy around the tour and the fact that he was here, alive, well, and ready to rock a country where he was a mysterious, multi-platinum-selling artist, whose only media profile was the picture on the cover of Cold Fact.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact (South African pressing)
Rodriguez – Cold Fact (South African pressing)

 
We handed him the guitar we had bought him. Laughingly, he said he hadn’t played for a while as he’d been busy working, mainly on construction jobs. Then the voice and the songs we had all been listening to for the past 25 years filled the room.
 
Graeme Currie, our bass player, played the riff of “I Wonder”, for about the 15th time, and glanced backstage over his shoulder. The Bellville Velodrome was packed, and 7000 frantic fans surged forward to see “The Man”. Standing backstage, Rodriguez looked stunned. The audience spotted him as he took a step towards the lights. Seven thousand
voices erupted in a frenzy as he reached the mic and “I wonder, how many times you’ve been had….” filled the arena.

Rodriguez and Big Sky On Stage 7 March 1998
Rodriguez and Big Sky On Stage, Bellville Velodrome, 7th March 1998
Rodriguez Live In South Africa 1998
Rodriguez and Big Sky, Backstage, Bellville Velodrome, March 1998


The next week’s six shows around the country were just as triumphant as the opening night, and it felt as though this was Rodriguez, stepping out into worldwide artistic and commercial recognition. That would only happen more than ten years later, after the release of the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man. The last time I saw him was Friday 13th March 1998, standing in his cowboy boots at 3am on the Durban beachfront, holding a beer and grinning. He looked like a happy man.

Searching For Sugar Man

It was 2019, the end of the decade, and 1998 seemed a long way back. I crossed the white-baked salt flats of Verneukpan, on my motorcycle, tracing the still visible route of Malcolm Campbell’s unsuccessful attempt to set the world land speed record in 1929, in his racer The Bluebird. My father was 14 when they came through his hometown of Calvinia, and I was always fascinated by this story. My dad was the ukulele player in a band, and together with a
banjo and a concertina player, they played the local folk songs at their towns’ weekend dances.
 
My bike kicked up fine white dust and the setting sun was blinding in my eyes. It was the second day of a solo motorcycle trip around South Africa, and it felt like I was back in a far-off distant time. The back of the bike was fishtailing as it spun in the soft sand, a jackal bolted for the bushes, and I turned out onto the road to the Namibian border. In a few months, I would be back in the studio after a long break. I opened the bike’s throttle as far as
it would go and felt the future accelerating towards me.

Steve Louw, Verneukpan, 2019
Steve Louw, Verneukpan, 2019
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 9

 

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

Dead Men Don’t Tour, Rodriguez in South Africa 1998 (TV Documentary)

This documentary was shown on South African Television this week, 20 years ago.

Footage from this documentary features strongly in the Oscar winning film, Searching For Sugar Man.

Dead Men Don’t Tour

Directed by Tonia Selley and featuring Big Sky, “Dead Men Don’t Tour”, was first broadcast on SABC 3 at 9.30pm on the 5th July 2001 just after ‘Ripley’s Believe Or Not’.

This film features wonderful concert footage, backstage antics, interviews with Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, Rodriguez and his family, the promoters, the fans and the musicians.

All live footage was filmed at the concerts in Pretoria, Durban and the Blues Room in Johannesburg.

The soundtrack for the documentary is based on the Live Fact CD with video collages from the various performances. The concert footage is linked with interviews, backstage antics, rehearsals, etc.

  1. I Wonder
  2. Inner City Blues
  3. Jane S. Piddy
  4. Sugar Man
  5. A Most Disgusting Song
  6. Like Janis
  7. Establishment Blues
  8. Climb Up On My Music
  9. I Wonder by Generation EXT (filmed during the studio recording)
  10. Forget It

Produced by Incha Productions
Executive producers: Georgina Parkin and Charles Watson
Directed by Tonia Selley
Edited by Cathy Winter

March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor
March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 8 by Steve Louw

I was back in Brooklyn Recording, in early 1997, and the room felt familiar. We were tracking the songs that would become the album, one of which was “Going Down with Mister Green”, and the band that played on Horizon was back in the groove. We were friends, and I was getting used to producing. I figured it was easy. Just show them the songs and let everyone play! Horizon had done well, and the songs for the next album had come quickly. Benmont Tench (the keyboard player with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), walked up to me during a break. I had first met him in 1988, when he played on “Waiting for the Dawn” and “Diamonds and Dirt”, and he was a Southern gentleman, the son of a Federal Court judge, and a musical genius. I had been a fan of his since hearing his piano riff on “Breakdown,” and his Hammond B3 solo on “Refugee”. It was always a privilege to hear him play.

Steve Louw 1997

He had just traded his old Camaro Z/28 for a Mercedes sports, with a car phone, and we took a walk outside to have a look. As we looked over the car, Benmont looked up at me and said, “These are the best songs you’ve written. I love your lyric on “Hitchhike” … It’s easier for the needle, to pass through the eye of the meek. Lay down your guns, boy, sink down to your feet. We were standing in the hot LA sun; the studio was set up and we were into it. It felt like it was going to be a good album. 

Steve Louw in the studio recording “Going Down With Mr Green”, 1997

Kevin was in New York, producing Nine Lives, the Aerosmith album which went on to be one of their most successful. He was on a winning streak, having just done Silverchair’s Frogstomp, and Journey’s Trial by Fire, all of which had been multi-platinum successes. It had taken him just seven years to become a world-famous producer and engineer, and there was no holding him back. He had moved to New York City, and his 25th birthday party, at Rita’s, seemed a long way back. 

It was Saturday afternoon, the 29th day of February 2020, and we had finished eight songs in the last two-and-a-half days. I had called the songs that I felt hung together the best, first, but now my choices were becoming more difficult. I still had four or five songs, but I knew, as soon as we had tracked a song, Kevin and the band would look at me and say “What’s next?”

Steve Louw – Headlight Dreams

I had left the rockers to last, and I felt we could try one now. I played the acoustic intro to “Headlight Dreams” and looked for the reaction. “Cool, let’s do it, sounds like fun,” said Kev (McKendree). I liked the song’s story, and as I played the acoustic intro, the band kicked in, sounding big and heavy. “That was fun,“ Kev laughed, as we walked back into the control room. We were grinning at each other, and it felt like we had been playing together for years. As we walked up to the console, Kevin pushed up the faders, opened a bottle of red wine and started mixing.

Steve Louw and Kevin Shirley mixing Headlight Dreams, February 2020
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 8

 

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

BLK JKS – Abantu / Before Humans

BLK JKS, (pronounced Black Jacks), are a South African rock band from Johannesburg, formed in 2000.

Childhood friends Mpumelelo Mcata and Lindani Buthelezi grew up together in Spruitview, East Rand, where they founded the Blk Jks in 2000. After varying line-ups, they were joined by Molefi Makananise (bass) and Tshepang Ramoba (drums) from Soweto and the four played their first gig in Grahamstown in 2005. A year later, they came second in the run-up to represent South Africa at the Global Battle of the Bands competition. After the release of a self-titled EP with five songs, the band began recording songs at SABC studio for a LP titled ‘After Robots’. Due to lack of funds and without a record label, these unedited masters were not completed. Instead, in 2007 the Blk Jks released a collector’s 10-inch of ‘Lakeside’ and a series of lo-fi records titled ‘Kilani Sessions’.

Notwithstanding limited recognition in South Africa, Blk Jks gained international acclaim. American DJ Diplo noticed them while on tour in South Africa and offered to sign the band to his Mad Decent label. While the deal was never closed, Diplo still brought them over to New York City. So, early in 2008 Blk Jks toured the United States and in March appeared on the cover of Fader Magazine. Later that year, they also toured Europe and eventually signed with U.S. indie label Secretly Canadian. Their EP ‘Mystery’ was recorded at New York’s famous Electric Lady Studios. It was first released independently in 2008 and later reissued with Secretly Canadian in 2009.

Another tour to the United States included a gig at the South by Southwest festival in Austin. Being signed to a label also allowed the Blk Jks to finally finish their debut album. Produced by Secret Machines’ Brandon Curtis, ‘After Robots’ was released by Secretly Canadian on 8 September 2009. Rolling Stone magazine dubbed Blk Jks “Africa’s best new band” and rated ‘After Robots’ three-and-a-half out of five stars; the review states “When  Blk Jks do it their way, they sound like nothing else”.

Likewise, a review on Pitchfork appreciated ‘After Robots’ as “a hugely ambitious album, with swooping forays into kwaito, ska, reggae, ambience, jazz, prog, and furor.” Nonetheless, the review’s author complained the Blk Jks would not live up to the hype created by comparisons calling them the “African TV on the Radio” and he only gave the album a 6.2 rating. Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl, on the other hand, declared ‘After Robots’ his favourite album of 2009.

Credit: Mail & Guardian

Their international reputation also gained the band more attention nationally. The Mail & Guardian listed the Blk Jks in their yearly feature of eminent 200 Young South Africans in 2009 and 2010. The band was nominated for best album and best English alternative album at the 2010 South African Music Awards, taking home the latter. Blk Jks released their EP ‘Zol!’ just two days before performing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Kick-off concert in Soweto’s Orlando Stadium on June 10, 2010. The band’s track ‘Lakeside’, taken from After Robots, also featured on the soundtrack EA Sports’ FIFA 10 video game.

After their international tours, the Blk Jks kept playing gigs in South Africa. Lindani Buthelezi and the other band members were eventually estranged. Buthelezi formed God Sons and Daughter in 2012 and left the Blk Jks shortly after. Mcata and Ramoba started a DJ project called Blk Jks Soundsystem together, as well as the band Motèl Mari with João Orrechia. Mcata directed ‘Black President,’ a documentary film about Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai. Ramoba started producing for singer Moonchild Sanelly. The three remaining band members nevertheless kept working together. In 2014, they opened for the Foo Fighters on their tour in South Africa and terminated their contract with Secretly Canadian. Two new members also joined the group: trumpeter Tebogo Seitei and Hlubi Vakalisa on saxophone and keyboards.

Together with the South African ensemble The Brother Moves On, Blk Jks collaborated in a project called ‘Blk Brother’ in 2015, something they have done in the past with Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré and his band. For the Afropunk Festival in Johannesburg in 2017, they collaborated with singer Thandiswa Mazwai as ‘King Tha’ vs. Blk Jks. As a tribute to the legendary South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela, who died in January 2018, the Blk Jks covered ‘The Boy’s Doin’ It’ together with Masekela’s son Selema ‘Sal’ Masekela of Alekesam and nephew Selema. It was the band’s first release in nine years.

In 2019, the Blk Jks announced their upcoming second album with the release of their single ‘Harare’ (feat. Morena Leraba). And in June 2021, Blk Jks have released their latest album ‘Abantu/Before Humans’. The nine-track album is “a sonic ode to the continent of Africa that offers a soul-lifting and punk-electronic experience”.

Buy at Permanent Records

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 7 by Steve Louw

“What are we doing, a polka thing?” Scott Crago laughed as he breezed past me into the studio. With long blonde hair and Southern Californian surfer vibe, he looked the part for the gig he had just landed as the Eagles’ drummer for their reunion tour. It was May 1994, and I was in Brooklyn Recording, a studio filled with vintage gear and an old Neve console. It was good to be back in a recording studio making music.

A lot had happened in the last five years. I was married, we had three daughters, and life was beautiful. Waiting for the Dawn had been well received in South Africa, with three songs getting heavy airplay. We had toured behind the album and had been as commercially successful as you could be at the tip of Africa.

 Steve Louw
Steve Louw

The world had undergone seismic political upheaval. Apartheid was over, the USSR was dismantled, South American dictators were on the run, and I had just participated in South Africa’s first democratic election and seen Nelson Mandela inaugurated as the country’s first President.

I was, by default, producing the album and Kevin was on the verge of a breakthrough in Australia, working with three fifteen-year-olds, making the album that would become Frogstomp by Silverchair. I didn’t know much about production, but I knew that I needed to get my songs into a studio with a great bunch of musicians and play. The rest would take care of itself. The engineer, Bill Dooley, a laconic New Yorker who shared my love of NHL Hockey and the New York Rangers, helped us all get comfortable with each other and rocking.

I had released Waiting for the Dawn as Big Sky, and this album, Horizon, would be the follow-up. I had taken a while to come up with the songs, and taken a few detours along the way, working on film scores, buying some land where I built our family home, and starting a tree farm.

Nashville 2020: “Play that again, you just played it in a different time signature” laughed Greg Morrow. “I don’t know if I can, what I played, in the beginning, is the right riff.” “Oh, OK,” and he changed his notes. I had been struggling with “Get out of my Heart” for days. I had written it as a full-on rocker, a call to arms, and performed it live to raucous applause. It never felt like I had found the song’s heart, and that there was so much more ambivalence in the song that wasn’t being projected. I hit upon the weird time signature, and then, the lyric and the vocal sat comfortably within the music. I had hoped that I could pull it off. Rob McNelley nailed it down right away, and with him leading, we cut the track, slower than the other songs, but powerful. It felt like I was on a back road in Twin Peaks territory, loving the nightlife.

Steve Louw – Get Out Of My Heart

I walked out into the cold Nashville night carrying my guitar. I felt like I could walk down that road and just keep going until the city’s lights faded behind me and only the moon to light my way. I was far from home, alone in a strange city, but it felt like I had turned back onto the right track.

SPOTIFY: The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead #7

Read the Complete Series


Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: