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

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 3 by Steve Louw

Little Steven - Voice Of America
Little Steven – Voice Of America

It was a hot summer in 1984 in Johannesburg when Little Steven (aka Miami Steve van Zandt) looked straight into my eyes through the lens of my camera. He was listening to the live recording of my band, All Night Radio, and I could see he was into it. His leopard print coat, snakeskin boots and silk bandanna were all too hot for the Johannesburg summer heat, but he looked like the coolest person I had ever seen. 

He was in South Africa to promote Voice of America, his second album. He had recently quit the E-Street Band to launch his solo career and I was interviewing him for a local newspaper. We had been talking for hours about studios, recording and his work as a producer with Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Gary U.S. Bonds, and his two Little Steven albums, Men without Women, and Voice of America.

The UN cultural boycott of South Africa was in place, and he was visiting South Africa to see for himself what was happening in the country. Voice of America was a political album, and tracks like “Checkpoint Charlie” and “Los Desaparecidos” dealt with the regimes of East Germany and Argentina. The Sun City album would become Little Steven’s natural progression of that work, and after Peter Gabriel’s “Biko”, one of the most significant protest songs against apartheid.

Little Steven’s Sun City video

I thought Steve would be cool with helping me get further up the road. He was, and he suggested we record with the engineer who had just finished his new album, and which I thought sounded great. Six weeks later we were in UCA studios in Cape Town with John Rollo, the engineer on Voice of America, and long-time associate of The Kinks. I had left NYC, figuring that recording and gigging with the great musicians I knew back home would break us through to some sort of recognition. John knew how to make a live rock ’n’ roll record, and we were ready, after a year of gigging in clubs. We stripped the UCA studio bare, brought up the freight lift, put the drums near its metal mouth, stripped off the toms and we rocked. Ten days later we were mixing at the House of Music New Jersey, and in August 1984 All Night Radio made its radio airplay debut.

All Night Radio (left-to-right): Rob Nagel, Steve Louw, Nico Burger, Richard "Dish" Devey, Pitchie Rommelaere
All Night Radio (left-to-right): Rob Nagel, Steve Louw, Nico Burger, Richard “Dish” Devey, Pitchie Rommelaere

We brought in our great drummer, Richard “Dish” Devey along for the tour and rehearsed on the stage of the now-defunct Three Arts Theatre where I had seen Ray Charles, José Feliciano and Tina Turner from backstage, with my school buddy, Dereck Quibell, the theatre owners’ son. 

We hit the road for a national tour, and from where I was sitting, behind the wheel of a VW panel van, the future looked great.

FEBRUARY 2019: “You’ve got songs, Stevie, and before I see you you’ll write more. Just be in Nashville the last three days of February next year, and we’ll make a record”. I put down the phone. Kevin (Shirley) was in Abbey Road studios with Joe Bonamassa, and I had a year to get myself together before leap year 2020 rolled around. The music started playing in my head again.

Kevin Shirley
Kevin Shirley
The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead #3

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 1 by Steve Louw

MARCH 2020: It’s a cold winter Sunday morning in Nashville, Tennessee. We stopped next to the big black idling tour bus parked outside the studio. Joe Bonamassa climbed down grinning, wearing his trademark baseball cap and hoodie, carrying his Les Paul and a small vintage Fender Deluxe amp.

Joe Bonamassa, Nashville, TN, March 2020. Laying down guitar solo on "Wind In Your Hair" | Credit: Steve Louw
Joe Bonamassa, Nashville, TN, March 2020. Laying down the guitar solo on “Wind In Your Hair”. Photo: Steve Louw


He had just driven in from Florida. He was on his way to do a show in Chicago, when Kevin (Shirley, his producer) called him in the night to tell him that he’d left off the solo on the title track of his new album Royal Tea, which they had just finished recording in London, at Abbey Road Studios. Laidback and laconic, he sipped his coffee, plugged in, and played a blistering solo to the track. The studio we were in was in a converted church, filled with vintage analogue gear, and we were set up recording my new album with the band Joe used on his own projects. As he laid down his vintage 59 Teaburst Les Paul and reached for his coffee, Kevin hit play and the song we were working on “Wind in Your Hair” came through the speakers. ”Play along to this track of Steve’s,“ said Kevin grinning. Joe’s lovely, lyrical guitar licks and a blazing solo filled the room. Everyone was stoked, Joe smiled, stretched back, swigged down his coffee, and headed for Chicago.

Steve Louw and Kevin Shirley, February 2020
Steve Louw and Kevin Shirley, February 2020
Steve Louw – Wind In Your Hair feat Joe Bonamassa, April 2021


The full moon shone in through the split windscreen of my old VW bus, lighting up the narrow road through the mountains better than the six-volt headlights. I was heading to a small theatre venue in the middle of a town square in Stellenbosch, to play a set of new songs and a few blues covers. I had decided to do what I thought was a Led Zeppelin cover, Gallows Pole.


It was 1976, and I had recently met two phenomenal musicians Rob Nagel who played bass and blues harp, and an electrifying guitarist, Willem Moller. We were doing separate sets on the same bill at the Stellenbosch Folk Club. Also on the bill were David Kramer and Lesley Rae Dowling.

All Night Radio, 1984: Rob Nagel, Steve Louw


As I pulled in, I flipped the cassette and Rodriguez’Sugar Man” filled the van from the big wooden speakers lying in back. I had my 12-string Ibanez guitar which I had bought in 1969, (it’s on the intro of “Waiting For The Dawn“) and my 20-year-old self was psyched up for the gig. Steeped in Zeppelin, Muddy, Little Walter, Hendrix, Duane Eddy and Dylan, I was ready. The future seemed a long way off….. right now felt good.

The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead #1

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

Great Local Musicians #2020-45: Steve Louw, last heard on All Night Radio | Jive Talking & Eyeballing

From Jive Talking & Eyeballing
by Ernesto Garcia Marques, April 2021,
edited by Brian Currin, May 2021

Anyone who supported local South African music will remember All Night Radio, the blues rock band from Stellenbosch who were truly world class. I have been meaning to interview Steve for the longest time and now that he is about to release a new album it seemed like the perfect time to interview him now. I would like to give a big shout out to Martin Myers and the sterling work he is doing as CEO of Music Exchange and Triple M Entertainment. Martin is handling the PR for Steve Louw and is also his manager. I contacted him about doing this interview. Thanks Martin 😀

By way of introduction many of you should remember this song, recorded live at Ellis Park Stadium, 1985…. 

Ernesto: Howzit Steve, hope you are doing well? No need to ask if you are still rocking as I am really thrilled to hear that you have a new album coming out soon but more about that later…  I believe ANR started at Stellenbosch University where you met Nico Burger and Rob Nagel and your combined love for the Blues and Rock ‘n Roll got you out there and playing with David Kramer and Lesley Rae Dowling in various clubs and student venues. When was this exactly and what songs did you play at those early gigs? Did you play any covers or only original songs? How did you get involved in music and who were your main influences?

Steve: Hi Ernesto, Great to hear from you! I met Rob Nagel and Willem Moller in 1976 at the Stellenbosch Folk Club and we have been friends ever since. It was great place to get heard and there was always an enthusiastic audience of music lovers. Most of the artists wanted to showcase their own songs, but there were also versions of other artists’ songs. I can remember doing a cover of Gallis Pole (Gallows Pole) on 12 string guitar, thinking I was covering a Zeppelin song! I never dreamed that 25 years later my bud Kevin Shirley would be working with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant! My Dad had a DJ friend in Johannesburg, and one day he brought home a copy of Duane Eddy, ‘Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel’ and I was mesmerised by the sound. Another of my earliest memories is hearing Fats Domino sing Blueberry Hill on my Mom’s car radio and I felt that I was being taken to another mysterious and beautiful place. I started playing piano when I was 8, and when I found my brother’s discarded GalloTone guitar that was it. Willem and I had a band called Rockaway which gigged doing originals and covers. Willem was always into recording, and we started doing demos of our songs between gigs.

I formed ANR in 1983 with Rob, Pitchie Rommelaere and Nico (Burger), as Willem had left Cape Town for Johannesburg with his band Nothing Personal, which had started to do well. Our first drummer was Ronnie Milne, a great Scottish drummer. I had started recording with Willem at a Studio in Cape Town in 1979 and 1980, and we did demos of my songs and then focussed on two songs which we thought had a shot. I finished them up when I moved to New York City in 1981. After trying to get going in NYC, and having some interest from A+M Records, I decided to come back to Cape Town and form All Night Radio.

E: ANR broke up and Steve headed for New York City and Rob Nagel went to Hamburg, Germany. Two years later Rob and Steve decided to return to Cape Town and, re-uniting with Nico, used the Mother City as the base for their assault on the record industry. Then came months of all-night rehearsals, live gigs to test the songs, more rehearsals, more gigs, and live recordings until the band felt they were ready to record.

Why did the band break up? Did you and Rob intend going overseas to gain experience before returning to give it a full go in South Africa? Did either of you play live while overseas or did you go and see as many bands as you could, or both? What bands really blew you away and inspired you with All Night Radio?

S: So we formed ANR, when I came back to Cape Town in March 1983. When I was in NYC, I saw so many great bands! It was a really inspirational time and also quite tough to survive! I met lots of musicians and recording engineers, and we would go into their studios during quiet times, like a Sunday afternoon, and work on songs. I remember walking in the streets of New York in 1981 hearing the Stones’ Start Me Up blasting from every car, shop and taxi wherever you went. It was incredible! Springsteen released Nebraska in 1982 and it played over and over on my cassette machine. The songs really resonated with me and I realised that the art of songwriting and storytelling were one.

That album really inspired me and I bought a 4 track cassette recorder and started making demos. All the first demos of the songs that were released on the first ANR album The Heart’s the Best Part were recorded on that machine, which I still have! I also remember a stand out gig by Elvis Costello, during his Imperial Bedroom tour which was just mind blowing. I knew that I had to really focus on songwriting to connect with people.

All Night Radio’s first release was the double A sided single: Breaking Hearts/Sea Side Love which was released on 1st September 1984 and what a great song it was… 

This was on the other side and my own personal favourite… 

E: That was a really good single Steve and though the blues influence was there these tracks have a real ’80’s feel. Were you listening to ’80’s music at the time because I can hear a little Billy Idol, Springsteen and Simple Minds influence on these tracks; meant as a compliment of course 😉. I believe your intention was to go back to basics with your sound and this was the first result of that….

S: Yes, the 80’s; what happened was the sound of drums completely changed. Everybody was competing to be heard on the radio and the drums, particularly the snare just got massive! When we recorded The Hearts the Best Part, we put a mike on the metal freight elevator wall, took all the toms off the kit, and placed the kit in front of the lift’s gaping mouth! It seemed like a good idea at the time, and that why the drums are so in your face. Luckily the 80’s passed!

E: The single received a very favourable review from Andrew Donaldson in his review in the Cape Times of 5 October 1984: “The first single from All Night Radio’s debut album was released last week. The double A-sided rocker, Breaking Hearts, c/w Sea Side Love, is a no-nonsense uncompromising recording debut, and an exciting glimpse of what the group intends to offer on its forthcoming album. Produced in Cape Town by New York-based John Rollo, “Breaking Hearts” is probably the noisiest and freshest-sounding rock single produced in this country to date. Guitarist Nico Burger effortlessly establishes himself as wunderkind here in one neat and fluid solo. ANR think they’re a great group. They probably are.”  All Night Radio Released their first album, The Heart’s the Best Part in 1984 and you can listen to the album in full here but please go out and buy the album….  

E: There is a very interesting story connected to the first ANR single and album and I can remember reading about that in the Argus Tonight newspaper and instead of repeating that article I will try to tell the story in my own words. So, Steve Louw was going to Joburg at the same time as Little Steven (Van Zandt) was in South Africa. A local journalist from Cape Town could not go to Joburg so he drew up some questions, arranged a meeting with Little Steven and gave these to Steve. Louw saw this as the perfect opportunity to promote his own music and looking for a break, dumped the questions and when he did meet Little Steven he asked “Will you produce my band?”.

Steve also insisted that Little Steven listen to the tapes (of the first album) to which Steven replied: “Er, I’d really like to,” said Little, “but, you see, I just can’t spare the time…” Unperturbed, Louw expressed his band’s willingness to wait. The persistence and determination paid off as Van Zandt told Steve that he could not do it but he could introduce Louw to the co-producer of his album, John Rollo. (Rollo was a British producer who lived in the USA who had produced: Little Steven & the Disciples Of Soul, Roberta Flack, Stevie Nicks, The Kinks and George Benson amongst others). Transatlantic phone calls followed, finance was discussed and after listening to the tapes, Rollo came out to Cape Town while leaving George Benson waiting…. Watched by Louw, Rollo completed the mixing of the single and subsequent album in his New Jersey studio, and that is why it sounds so good.

E: Phew Steve, that must have taken a lot of guts. Were you nervous meeting Little Steven but also determined not to miss out on this career altering opportunity? Did you really just drop the interview questions completely and just ask him to produce your first album? He must have been dumbfounded and impressed at the same time?

S: No, I was freelancing as a record reviewer for The Cape Times, so that I could get all the new releases from the Record Companies. I offered to interview Little Steven for the Cape Times and they said sure. I was really keen to meet him as I loved his work as an Arranger/Producer with Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Gary “US” Bonds. I also loved his debut first album, and he had just released Voice of America his second album. We had a great time talking music, studios and production and a 20 minute time slot stretched into hours. He asked me if I was gigging and recording, and said he would love to hear some of the songs. I had the cassette of our live 4 track recordings with me, and the band sounded good after a year of gigging. He listened to the set while I took photos to go with the piece on him. I can still see him in his bandana and leopard print coat looking into the camera while listening to ANR on my walkman. It was a great moment in my life. Anyway he liked what he heard and put me in touch with John Rollo in New Jersey. John agreed to come to Cape Town and work with us on Little Steven’s recommendation, so that meeting was the start of my career.

E: Rollo must have been impressed right off the bat with your sound that made him come out to South Africa and produce your album though I am sure a few words from Little Steven helped that project on its way 😉. Do you know if Van Zandt ever heard the album and I sure hope that you sent him a copy…..?

S: Yes, he came back to South Africa for a second visit in August 1984, (I first met him in May 1984), before starting on his Sun City project. I brought the album, which had just been pressed, (literally hot off the press), to him at his hotel in Johannesburg. Journalist Andrew Donaldson also published a review of the album in the Cape Times Funfinder of 9 November 1984; “All Night Radio’s The Heart’s The Best Part is a thunderous debut, with its hard-driving snare-drum guitar orientated sound (Springsteen a la mode). Forget the “well-produced, technically perfect” spiel (it is a remarkable album in that aspect) and listen to the songs. Singer Steve Louw displays a talent for crafting songs that are free of obvious and clichéd hooks. They’re energetic, they’re thoughtfully constructed and, what’s important, they have a shelf life that takes you far past the first listening.”

E: Jip, I agree. It is a true South African classic. The second ANR album; The Killing Floor was released in 1986 on Previous Records and was produced by Cape Town’s own Kevin “Caveman” Shirley who has produced albums by Journey, Iron Maiden, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Marya Roxx, Dream Theater, The Springbok Nude Girls, HIM, Tyler Bryant, Mr. Big, and Europe.

Did All Night Radio ever play any gigs with Kevin’s band The Council or did you only meet him later on as a producer? Your album must have been one of the first albums that he produced?

S: Yes we were often on the same bill at festivals, and he had been blown away by how our first album sounded, and was keen to do our second album. Kevin had already done a lot of albums. He has always been really busy.

E: Awesome. Did the above musicians come in and do their parts or did you jam and record with them in the studio? Who were the Glee Singers?  Rob Nagel had left the band at that stage to join the Blues Broers hadn’t he? 

S: We used Richard Pickett on our first album, and Richard Devey played live with ANR in 1984/1985. ANR stopped gigging in early 1986, but I still kept writing, and I love recording, so Kevin offered to produce an album with me. He put the band together and we cut all the tracks live. I love Tim’s solo on The Killing Floor. The Glee Singers were a gospel group that came in and sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica in the studio. Rob formed the Flaming Firestones after ANR.

E: The album contained seven Louw originals with a storming cover of Here Comes the Night by Them (which featured Van Morrison) (also covered by David Bowie on his Pin Ups album) and The Killing Floor by Howlin’ Wolf and here is the original of the latter… 

E: Listen to the album in full here but please go out and buy people. Support our own…

E: The Killing Floor features the cream of South African musicians including: Steve Louw: Vocals and acoustic guitar, Nico Burger: Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar, Dobro, Mike Campbell: Electric Bass, Tony Drake: Piano, Organ, Synthesisers, Herman Eugster (of Ella Mental): Drums, Mike Faure: Saxophone, The Glee Singers: Choir on ‘Fire of Reign’, Tim Parr: Guitar on ‘The Killing Floor’ and André de Villiers, Tracey Dogon, Mynie Grove, Tam Minter: Backing Vocals.

What made you decide to include those two covers, though you do them really well? Were they live favourites perhaps?

S: Kevin thought they would be great songs to cover, and he was right!

E: When and why did All Night Radio stop/split and when did you start with your Big Sky project/band? Big Sky was essentially your band, a solo project where you were joined by some of South Africa’s finest. Would I be right in saying that? 

S: ANR stopped touring in April 1986, and The Killing Floor was recorded after that. I just kept doing what I always do which is write songs, and when you have ten good ones you can make an album! Some times it just takes longer to come up with at least ten good songs. Kevin and I just started making another album, and both Rob and Nico play on the album. I had come across a great band in Johannesburg, Ymage, and I thought it would be great to cut the tracks with them. So we recorded with Godla Mgcinga (drums) Jimmy Mngwandi (bass) and Don Laka (keyboards) at UCA Studios in Cape Town where I recorded the two ANR albums.

E: The first Big Sky album, Waiting for the Dawn was released in 1990 on Gallo Records and re-issued in June 2001 on the Epic label and it is indeed epic! The album was produced by Kevin Shirley again and features more of the top South African musicians including; Steve Louw: Acoustic Guitar, vocals, Nico Burger: Guitar, Honest Rod Nagel: Harp (previously on bass), Don Laka: Piano, keyboards, Robbie McIntosh: Guitar, Slide guitar, Rupert Mellor: Accordion, Piano, McCoy Mrubata: Sax, Steve Newman: Acoustic Guitar, Jimmy Mngwandi: Bass, Godla Mgcinga: Drums, Benmont Tench: Piano, Hammond organ, Waddy Wachtel: Guitar, Roy Bittan: piano on ‘Here Comes The Night’, Cape Town Highlanders (The 1000 Pipers): bagpipes on ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ . The Atlantic City Horns: Horns (arranged by Mike Campbell), The Long Street Gang: Backing vocals. 

Stunning selection of South Africa’s top musicians and the legendary American Guitarist Waddy Wachtel who has played with the Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, Bonnie Raitt, Randy Newman, Don Henley and Jackson Browne and co-writing songs with Keith Richards in the X-Pensive Winos. How on earth did you persuade Waddy to play on your album? Did you meet him when you were in the USA or did you send him some demos? 

S: When we were mixing the album, the engineer Shelly Yakus thought that ‘Diamonds and Dirt’ would sound great with Hammond and another rhythm guitar, so he called up Benmont and Waddy, and as a favour to Shelly, they came down to the studio and played on the song.

E: This is the brilliant Waiting for the dawn title track and the album also features a Radio Edit towards the end… 

Another great song off the album is this one but every track off Waiting for the Dawn is really good… 

 and another which has a lekker South African sing along chorus… 

E: The second Big Sky album, Horizon was released in 1995 and with it  Louw clinched the “Best Rock Act” of 1996 award at the FNB Music Awards. The album was mixed by Rob Jacobs and Shelly Yakus and produced by Steve Louw himself. Horizon featured: Steve Louw: vocals, acoustic guitar, Scott Crago: drums, percussion, Mark Harris: bass, Benmont Tench: Hammond organ, piano, Tommy Girvin: electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals, Mona Lisa & Terry Young: backing vocals on ‘One Cut With A Knife’, Kip Lennon & Mark Lennon: backing vocals on ‘Bye Bye Johnny’ & ‘Kathleen’. This is one of the great tracks off Horizon… 

The album sold over 10,000 copies… 

E: Well done Steve, that is probably your most successful album then?

S: Yes, ‘One Cut with a Knife’ connected with people, and ‘Kathleen’ got a lot of Airplay. My favourite is ‘Strange Room’, so there were three songs that got people listening.

E: Going Down With Mister Green, the third Big Sky album was released in 1997 by Polygram and was produced by Steve Louw. The album featured: Steve Louw: vocals, guitar, Scott Crago: drums, percussion, Mark Harris: bass, Benmont Tench: keyboards, Tommy Girvin: guitar, Tim Pierce: sitar on ‘Wasted’. Another really good selection of songs and you can listen to all of them here but please buy if you like… 

E: Great album and you must have been really pleased with the result but also sad to learn that your former All Night Radio guitarist Nico Burger had died (sometime in 1996). How did that affect you and did it change or inspire the recording of this album?

S: It was really sad, and I wrote ‘Wasted’ for Nico. He was an incredible musician, really just genius! He was very intuitive both live and in the studio and came up with some incredible performances. His playing really makes the ANR albums as does his playing on ‘Waiting for the Dawn’ .

E: Steve Louw and Big Sky opened for Rodriguez on his 1998 South African Tour.

The 1999 album Best of the Decade featured the best songs Big Sky recorded and every single song is a classic. Pick your own favourite. Mine is probably Diamonds and Dirt but that changes, which shows how good the songs really are.

Were any of the songs on this best of compilation CD re-recorded, remixed or remastered or changed in any way from the versions on your previous Big Sky albums?

S: No, they were just taken from the albums, but I recorded two new songs for the compilation with Kevin, ‘Destiny’ and ‘Skin Deep’.

E: Louw returned with an album of new Big Sky songs with the Beyond the Blue album on 9 September 2002 and the album was produced by Kevin Shirley again. The album featured the ex South African musicians; Anton Fig: drums, percussion, Keith Lentin: bass, harmonica, acoustic guitar on track 9, Blondie Chaplin (The Flames/ Beach Boys/ Rolling Stones): guitars, vocals, Pat Thrall: guitars, Adam Holzman: keyboards and of course, Steve Louw: vocals, acoustic guitar.  In 2003 Steve Louw composed Amandla for Madiba’s 46664 benefit concert with Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics, Anastacia and Brian May of Queen. The song was performed by Bono and Beyoncé. Here is that song from this historic concert… 

E: Wow, aside from co-writing that song were you involved in Madiba’s 46664 benefit concert and did you perform there? Did you ever get the opportunity to meet the great man? 

S: I was lucky enough to be on stage for the performance of the song Amandla, and it was great being backstage and watching so many incredible musicians perform. I think the highlight for me was watching Johnny (Clegg) sing ‘Asimbonanga’ for Nelson Mandela in the audience. It was a riveting performance.

E: The Trancas Canyon album was released in 2008 by Sony Music and was recorded in a house in a canyon in Malibu, California, over three days. The album featured: Steve Louw: vocals, acoustic guitar, Blondie Chaplin: guitar, backing vocals, Pat Thrall: guitar, Rick Melick: keyboards, Anton Fig: drums, Keith Lentin: bass. You can listen to the here but please buy… 

E: Always thought that this album has a real warm, easy flowing homely sound as it was with the Travelling Wilburys. It sounds like you all had a lot of fun making this album. Can you tell us about the recordings?

S: The studio is up in hills above where Kevin lived in Malibu. It was done over a weekend as Anton had to get back to NYC to do his Letterman show on Monday. Its always great when Keith, Blondie and Anton get together as they are all friends for over forty years, so it is a lot of laughs ,and of course brilliant playing, from them.

E: Heart & Soul was a live DVD “Recorded live in front of a sell-out crowd at Cape Town’s historic Little Theatre. The show captures iconic South African songwriter Steve Louw and his band performing classic material from their other albums as well as previously unreleased songs.” This took place in 2009 and the recording featured : Steve Louw: Acoustic Guitar and Vocals, Willem Moller: Electric and Slide Guitars, Jacques Steyn: Double Bass, Electric Bass and Mandolin, Simon Orange: Keyboards, Tea-Chest Bass, Rob Nagel: Harmonica These are the videos from that show… 

E: So good to see you at home in Cape Town playing with your blues buddies and having fun. Did you enjoy that performance? Did you do any more shows like that at the time or was this a once off performance?

S: It was a once off show at the Little Theatre, and as you can see we had a blast!

E: What have you been doing since this live performance and the release of your latest album? Were you in South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa in 2020?

S: Yes I have been living in South Africa the whole time trying to come up with ten good songs! Yes, I left New York on March 7 [2020] right at the very end of the beginning of the time before.

E: On 6th April 2021 Steve Louw returned with a new single; Crazy River and you can watch that right here… 

E: Louw says of the song “once took a long canoe trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon and out again. It was a very spacy spiritual place and it felt like I was on a journey to the middle of the earth. I wrote this after the trip. On one level the song is about the river trip and the journey deep inside the raw power and beating heart of nature, but it also reflects on time, our time on Earth, how we experience it, and how the bonds of deep personal relationships with our fellow travellers nurture our souls. I played the acoustic guitar using a few African-style riffs and the band picked up on that feel. Guitarist Rob McNelley contributed beautiful slide guitar.” The song is from Steve’s new album; Headlight Dreams which is due to be released on May 7, 2021. The album can be pre-ordered right here….   https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams

The album was produced by Kevin Shirley and mastered by Bob Ludwig.

Can you tell us about the latest album Steve? I believe the song, Wind In Your Hair features the legendary Joe Bonamassa on guitar. Awesome, who else plays on the album with you? Where was the album recorded?

S: We recorded in Nashville with a great band that Kevin put together. Greg Morrow on drums, Alison Prestwood on bass, Rob McNelley on guitar, and Kevin McKendree on Keyboards

E: Are you going to have a South African launch for the new album or at least a few shows in Cape Town? I know a lot of people would like to see you perform live in Cape Town again… 

S: I would love to, it just depends on how things pan out.

E: Well, I think we have pretty much covered your career and recordings but if there is anything we left out please tell us about that. What would you say has been the highlight of your career, the defining moment that you will never forget? Also, any funny incidents during recordings or live shows that still make you smile?

S: I think meeting Stevie van Zandt in 1984 was a career defining moment for me.

E: Any last words for all the people who have followed your career? What do you still hope to achieve musically and do you have any future plans after this latest album has been released?

S: Keep looking forward to the next ten good songs.

E: Thanks so much Steve and I wish you everything of the best for your future endeavours.  Check out Steve Louw’s website here….  http://www.stevelouw.com/ Soundcloud…  https://soundcloud.com/stevelouw Twitter @stevelouwmusic  Thanks everybody. It is always a humbling experience interviewing someone as good as Steve Louw because he is just as good as any international musician out there. I can not stress how important it is to support our artists like Steve because the music was made by a South African and mostly recorded in South Africa for the South African people which means you and me.

Ernesto Garcia Marques, Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, 9th April 2021

BELOVED SOUTH AFRICAN SINGER / SONGWRITER STEVE LOUW RELEASES NEW VIDEO / SINGLE, “CRAZY RIVER”

Steve Louw

April 6 2021, Capetown, SA: Today, much-revered South African singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steve Louw releases, “Crazy River,” the first track from his forthcoming album, Headlight Dreams to be released in May via BFD/The Orchard. 

Steve Louw - Headlight Dreams

The song itself is an upbeat, transcendent ode to the beauty of a river, its timelessness against the impermanent world it runs through, and the aspects of ourselves that long to be just like it. Louw, with a rich lifetime of music making under the belt, gets it and embraces the moment. The video puts him occasionally front and center, singing and playing with millennial enthusiasm, yet with the confidence that experience brings, his image juxtaposed with footage and stills of lives lived large against a backdrop of mountains, valleys and rapids. So lush is it all that one could just jump at the screen before getting a hold of themselves. 

Says Louw of the song, “I once took a long canoe trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon and out again. It was a very spacy spiritual place and it felt like I was on a journey to the middle of the earth. I wrote this after the trip. On one level the song is about the river trip and the journey deep inside the raw power and beating heart of nature, but it also reflects on time, our time on Earth, how we experience it, and how the bonds of deep personal relationships with our fellow travellers nurture our souls. I played the acoustic guitar using a few African-style riffs and the band picked up on that feel. Guitarist Rob McNelley contributed beautiful slide guitar.” 

From the moment he jumped into the South African music scene in the eighties, he was swimming with the best of em. At that time, he fronted All Night Radio, a group that would release two hit records, The Heart’s the Best Part (1984) and The Killing Floor (1986) and establish Louw as a force to be reckoned with on the SA music scene. But in 1990, Steve achieved legendary status after forming Big Sky, who won the honour of Best South African Rock Act in 1996 and were subsequently accepted into the SA Rock Hall of Fame. In 1998, they supported Rodriguez on tour and were incidentally featured in the film, Searching For Sugar Man.

In 2003, Steve collaborated with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Anastacia and Brian May (Queen) on a song called “Amandla” that was performed for the Madiba’s 46664 concert in Cape Town by Beyonce and Bono.

He also played and recorded with the aforementioned Rodriguez, Blondie Chaplin and Kevin Shirley, who produced Headlight Dreams. The new album also features a guest spot from heroic guitarist Joe Bonamassa on “Wind In Your Hair.”

Stream/download “Crazy River” here: https://orcd.co/SteveLouwCrazyRiver 

Pre-save/pre-add/pre-order Headlight Dreams here: https://orcd.co/SteveLouwHeadlightDreams 

For more information, please visit: http://stevelouw.com/

Twitter @stevelouwmusic 

And for any media inquiries, please contact: 

Martin Myers / Jason Curtis 

083 448 4475 / 082 555 5993

Steve Louw

Shiloh Noone’s Latest Novel ‘A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River’ Is Now Available Online

Shiloh Noone’s Latest Novel ‘A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River’

What makes Pat Simmons, a retired engineer, give up his comfortable middle class living and wade across a crocodile infested river with a bicycle strapped to his back, in order to teach chess to schoolchildren at the Mission station?

To find out you will have to read the latest novel by Shiloh Noone called A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River‘. This brand new release follows previous books by Shiloh Noone including his earlier novel, ‘Witches of Sark’, a book of poetry called ‘Forty -Two for the Chosen Few’, and ‘Seeker’s Guide to the Rhythm of Yesteryear’.

For many years, this well-known Cape Town DJ and author, was a regular contributor to the weekly SA Rock Digest email newsletter. Each week, in the ‘Classic Rock’ section of ‘The Digest’, Shiloh would expound, and educate us, on many of the lesser known members of the South African and international pop-rock family.

As a DJ on stations like Love Radio Amsterdam, Radio Kol HaShalom (The Voice of Peace) in Israel, Q Radio in Gory Castle on the island of Jersey, Radio Matie (MFM) in Stellenbosch, 567 Cape Talk, and a long stint at FMR Radio in Cape Town, Shiloh’s musical knowledge increased until he decided to compile a 750-page book on the history of rock entitled ‘Seeker’s Guide to the Rhythm of Yesteryear’.

That 600-page reference work covered many musicians and genres like Blues, Rock n’ Roll, Surf guitar, Folk Music, Psychedelia, British Beat, and Progressive rock from the period between the years 1950 and 1979. This book has sold well around the world and received many excellent reviews, including a 3-star review by Record Collector magazine and a 4-star review by Rolling Stone magazine.

A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River’ is published by Naledi Books in Cape Town, and is a fascinating African adventure that also encapsulates spiritual revelations about Africa, its indigenous people and tribal customs, as well as a fascinating description of the bountiful animal, bird, insect and plant life that still flourishes in that area. This new novel is also as much about recognising the intricate patterns of life as it is about life-skills and the resilience of the human spirit.

Shiloh wrote this book in his new home in Onrus, near Cape Town, alongside his Matshana Tribal Arts Museum and Lodge where he teaches chess to the young children in that area.

A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River’ (R220.00) (Naledi Books) (ISBN: 978-1-928518-78-5) is available from Exclusive Books at the Waterfront in Cape Town, and is also available online from http://naledi.online/shop/skrywer/shiloh-noone/a-bicycle-a-chess-set-an-african-river/

Naledi is a publisher and distributor of publications and relevant media products to the South African market. https://naledi.online/

A Bicycle, a Chess Set, an African River

Reaching Out To Rodriguez

Hi folks at sugarman.org 🙂 I tried sending the below to the fanmail email for Rodriguez but it bounced. I know it probably won’t reach Rodriguez here but thought I’d give it a shot anyway.

Hi Sixto Rodriguez (or whoever reads your fanmail!),

I hope this email finds you well in the absurd reality of the covid world!

I am in the middle of my final year of a Music and Human Development degree in Dublin. I decided to do my musicological research dissertation on your music and its effect in South Africa during aparthied. It’s such a fascinating story and I’m delighted to get to delve into your music a bit more, and the complexities around the social and cultural phenomena in South Africa which endeared your music to so many there.

I have read all about you of course. I’ve focused on your music career but was interested that you got a BA in Philosophy and ran for Public Office. Such a well-rounded life you’ve had! It must be very strange for so many people to know so much about you, but having read the many forums on the Sugarman.org website, it’s clear that all who know you truly admire you and love your music. I have studied some philosophy as part of my Human Development course and am an introverted deep thinker in general (something I inherited from my Dad). I also write music, sometimes about the boy-girl stuff, as you say, but I also incorporate other issues which affect me. I think your music is great and I often sing your songs to myself. I hope to learn to play some on the guitar.

Well, I just wanted to say that you’re an inspiring man and musician and it’s been a pleasure listening to and studying your music. It’s amazing to see what an eye-opening effect you had on South Africans and how your music really got them through difficult times. My brother lives in Cape Town with his wife and I hope to visit next year and walk some of the paths you did when over there. I shall be making a trip to Stephen’s record shop, too!

All the very best Rodriguez.

Yours,

Katie Archer

Hammerhead Hotel, feat Falling Mirror, Jack Hammer, The Dolly Rockers, McCully Workshop, Radio Rats

Hammerhead Hotel | photo: Michael Currin
Hammerhead Hotel | photo: Michael Currin


Track List

1. Bus Station – Fly Paper Jet
2. Hammerhead Hotel – Falling Mirror
3. Alison – Dolly Rockers
4. Getting Better – Scabby Annie
5. Shock Time For Rock – The Popguns
6. Morrison Hotel – Jack Hammer
7. Werewolf In The House – Falling Mirror
8. Kamikasi – McCully Workshop
9. Mucking About In The Dungeons All Day – Radio Rats
10. Monster From The Bog – Psycho Reptiles
11. Bellville Rock City – New World Inside
12. Psycho Bitch – Toxic Shame
13. Boxstar Kitty – Three Bored White Guys
14. Blue Eyed Devil – Th’ Damned Crows
15. Psycho-Babble – Lancaster Band
16. Britney Spears – Tweak
17. Babydoll Blues – The Ragdolls
18. Psycho – Them Tornados
19. Woo Hoo! – Fire Through The Window
20. Baby Girl You’re Gonna Burn! – Peachy Keen
21. Drakilla – The Psykotix
22. Surfin’ With The Goth Gang – Martin Rocka And The Sick Shop
23. Krokodil – Retro Dizzy
24. Buccaneer – Moyawetu
25. Beethoven Is Dying – Koos Kombuis En Die Warmblankes
26. Only Yesterday – Sharkbrother
27. Boomtown Hotel – Valiant Swart
28. Kitchener – Piet Botha
29. Praha Paradise (2007 version) – Ernestine Deane feat Tim Parr
30. Die Gipsy In Jou Oë – Anna Davel
31. Farewell To Gypsy – Bonekey

World in Union with PJ Powers & Tygerberg Children’s Choir | CTMA News: Youth in the Spotlight

World in Union (2020 Tribute) by PJ Powers and the Tygerberg Children’s Choir (TCC) is a tribute to all Covid-19 essential workers and public efforts made in fighting the corona virus pandemic. This new version of the song was filmed and recorded by the artists in isolation during the country’s lockdown, and released on Africa Day 25 May 2020.

According to PJ Powers the song choice was perfect for the cause as World in Union is a song that expresses so many things that we as humans need. “ When I did it in ‘95 for the Rugby World Cup it became a song of triumph and victory for South Africa, of unity and strength. This time around I approached the vocal with a sense of healing and hope in my mind, and without changing a lyric I feel that is what we have captured in this version.”

PJ and the TCC were originally scheduled perform at the 2020 Suidooster Festival in Cape Town during May. The project is a proud initiative by the Suidooster Festival in association with CTMA, Die Burger and other festival partners. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for new scheduled festival dates for 2020.

PJ Powers

Karina Erasmus, conductor, with members of the Tygerberg Children's Choir
Karina Erasmus, conductor, with members of the Tygerberg Children’s Choir

Lockdown Blues – The Bottom Barrel Blues Band

Featuring Robin Auld, Steve Walsh, Simon Orange, Tonia Möller, Schalk Joubert, Willem Möller, Kevin Gibson, Mauritz Lotz & Nico Mac

“Lockdown Blues” is a blues song created and performed by the Bottom Barrel Blues Band – a collaboration of prominent South African contemporary musicians. It was recorded individually by the artists in isolation during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
True to the nature of the blues, “Lockdown Blues” is an uplifting, bitter-sweet tune depicting the challenges of life under lockdown regulations. It is produced by the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA), a Cape Town based not for profit company, creating opportunities for local contemporary musicians.

During the Covid-19 pandemic many musicians have experienced a harsh decline or complete halt in income due to lockdown regulations and the ban on public gatherings. But despite these challenges, musicians will always express themselves, practice their craft and collaborate.
We therefore urge you to please support your local musicians by continuing to buy their albums, follow their online and streaming initiatives or by making a financial donation.

For more info on how you can donate to contemporary musicians in South Africa, please contact the Cape Town Music Academy at info@ctma.co.za.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ― Billy Joel

Credits:
Music by Robin Auld
Lyrics by Nico Mac/Robin Auld/Simon Orange
Video created & edited by Schalk Joubert
Arranged, Mixed & Mastered by Robin Auld
Executive Producer – The Cape Town Music Academy

Robin Auld – Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica
Simon Orange – Vocals & Keyboards
Steve Walsh – Vocals
Tonia Möller – Vocals
Kevin Gibson – Drums
Schalk Joubert – Bass
Willem Möller – Guitar
Mauritz Lotz – Guitar

Vinyl, CD’s, Books & Bric-a-Brac at Bothasig Market every Saturday

Brian Currin & Michelle Longman at Bothasig Library Boot Sale Market.
Brian Currin & Michelle Longman at Bothasig Library Boot Sale Market.

T1-Together’s mission is to raise funds for the diabetic community of South Africa and our vision is to assist the disadvantaged diabetic youth and financially assist with the training of diabetic alert dogs.

cropped-t1-wp-header.png-3.jpg

Bothasig Market

Every Saturday from 8am to 1pm there is Market on the grounds of the Bothasig Library in Vryburger Road in Bothasig, Cape Town.

Music fundi, Brian Currin, mans the T1-Together stall, almost every Saturday, selling Vinyl Records, CD’s, books and bric-a-brac.

Brian can often be found behind the counter at Mabu Vinyl, the iconic music store in Cape Town, that features in the Oscar-winning movie, Searching For Sugar Man.

Please come to this exciting market in Bothasig and visit the T1 Together stall to have a chat and browse our selection of goodies.

Please support the various T1 Together Events, we would love to see you there.

Car Boot
All packed and ready to go!

 

A Spoonful Of Sugar And James returns to the Alma Café in Mowbray on Friday Sept 27th at 8pm

Sugar and James

A Spoonful Of Sugar And James returns to the  Alma Café in Mowbray on Friday Sept 27th at 8pm. Booking is as always absolutely essential by phone on  021 685 7377. 50 seats only.

This innovative, informative and slightly irreverent performance sees the acclaimed South African singer-songwriter, James Stewart, joining Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, the man behind the rediscovery of Sixto Rodriguez and the Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching For Sugar Man”, to share their respective stories and play and sing some great Rodriguez and South African classic songs.

www.SugarMan.org

A Spoonful of Sugar and James at The Glencairn Hotel, 31st August 2019

Sugar & James Glencairn

A Spoonful Of Sugar & James
The Glencairn Hotel
31 August

It’s been called “The Greatest Music story of the past 50 years”, the story of this wonderful and talented musician and his journey to his well-deserved and long-overdue fame. But enough about James Stewart 😉 In this innovative, informative and slightly irreverent show, James joins Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, the person behind the rediscovery of Sixto Rodriguez and “Searching For Sugar Man”, the Oscar-winning documentary about the whole story, as the two music journeymen tell their respective tales and play and sing some of the most seminal Rodriguez and South African classic songs. Willem Moller will add his special soulful flair on guitar.

Book tickets here http://bit.ly/SugarJamesGlencairn

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