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.
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 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.