Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse lends his voice to Homeland, A Song For Refugees

Homeland: A Song For Refugees, written by Neill Solomon has a stellar lineup on artists including: Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Ayanda Bandla, Reine Saad, Cindy Alter, Bienvenue Nseka, Nde Ndifonka aka Wax Dey and JB Arthur on vocals.

With Godfrey Mgcina on Percussion, Fana Zulu on Bass Guitar, Pops Mohamed on Kora, Greg Georgiades on Oud, Wouter Kellerman on Flute and backing vocals of Stella Khumalo, Faith Kekana and Zamo Mbutho along with 15 members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kutlwano Masote, this is a stellar piece of work.

 A Song for Refugees

https://electromodeza.lnk.to/HomelandASongforRefugeesAr

The song is a tender testimony describing a touching story of the sense of wanting to return to one’s Homeland, no doubt a narrative song that gives voice to the world’s dispossessed and exiled.

The orchestra prologue arrangement sets the tone for Homeland: A Song for Refugees further boasting an epic musical and lyrical interpretation…an unquestionable landmark song with the narrative carried by the voices and instrumentation, delivering heart-breaking conviction.

There’s a sense of soul soothing hope layered in the song.

The most prominent lyric has to be Strange Birds Singing revealing the essence of the song ….in envy of winged creatures that hold no borders.

With this song the hope is to  spread global awareness about the continuing refugee crisis.

The All-Mighty Watershed

A new record deal, album and an upcoming tour, Watershed proves that not even a pandemic can keep them down.

While many of South Africa’s landmark rock bands have hung up their guitars, there is at least one that has weathered the storm that is Covid-19 and come out of it better than ever. The past two years have seen Watershed secure a European record deal with the German-based independent label On-Stage, release their seventh studio album and now they’re ready to tour not only SA but also internationally.

“It’s been an incredible 21 years,” comments lead vocalist Craig Hinds. Though as a band they started relatively understated, their debut single “Shine on Me” launched the group to national stardom, with the follow-ups “Indigo Girl” and “Letters” making them certified rockstars. Over the years, the pop-rock band have managed to keep up that momentum with plenty of chart-topping hits and, because of this, they’ve continued to tour beyond their home soil of SA.

At the peak of their careers, the band was blind-sided by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown of 2020. “The pandemic affected our touring schedule with shows having to be cancelled and international tours postponed,” explains Craig.

While many bands weren’t able to survive the lockdown, Watershed regrouped and adapted. Craig and the band used their time at home to reflect on themselves as well as their music with Craig being able to spend this time writing more songs. The result? Elephant in the Room, an authentic, stripped-down album that mirrors the time we live in and daily frustrations felt, which was released last year. “We have had two great singles off the album, ‘Undone’ and ‘Empty Space’, with both doing really well and ‘Undone’ getting to number 1 on the charts,” notes Craig. “Both singles and the album are also doing phenomenally in Europe.” This sees the second time that standing Watershed lead guitarist, Gideon Botes produced an album for the band, having also worked behind the scenes on their 2018 studio album Harbour. “His production genius has added volumes to our new albums and our current sound,” adds Craig.

And, as things stand now in 2022, Craig says that the band is cautiously optimistic –finally, after two postponements, they will be touring Germany in June 2022. “All we can do is hold thumbs that things stay on the trajectory they are now and we can get back to some sort of normal.”

Though this is their first international tour since the pandemic, they have been lucky enough to do some live performances in SA and the band has enjoyed watching the crowds increase in size as things open up. “Touring is what we do,” exclaims Craig. “It’s fun and allows us to visit Incredible parts of our country and the world. We get to see smiles on people’s faces and gather more material for new songs as we travel and share.”

Reflecting on the state of music now, Craig admits that it’s tough. Streaming has had a heavy impact on artists with little to no money being earned through these channels. This leaves touring and live shows as the most important part of music for any band. “There is lots of music out there and some marvelous songs going around but it’s become more about sustainability. Are bands able to maintain a career?” he says. “The consumption of music is rapid. New songs are getting a few weeks in the sun but as quickly as they go up the charts they vanish at the same rate.” But, he says, it’s still very much about trying to build a loyal fan base that will support you to the ends of the earth.

And, Watershed can boast a loyal fan base that has been with them for over two decades. It’s this fandom that will most appreciate their next project which will see them re-recording their classic hits like “Indigo Girl” and “Letters”, while also allowing for a whole new generation to connect with their music. “We won’t change them too much, but it’s just really about recapturing them with more current sounds and a fresh vocal,” admits Craig. “I think my voice has changed over the years and I look forward to seeing the potential of these hits topping the charts again… who knows?”

For those who are going to their first Watershed live performance, you can expect a big show filled and amazing energy. They’ll be touring flat out in SA until May and then they’ll head for Germany for a big 13 show tour. Tickets are selling fast as people are clearly hyped to see the band in the element on stage. “At the same time, we will be working on new tracks.” teases Craig. “We will probably start tracking a new album later this year for a release early to mid-2023!”

The Elephant in the Room tour

South African tour dates

1 Aprilcafé Roux, Noordhoek
2 & 3 AprilWarwick Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
9 AprilKaapzicht Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
6 MayThe Barnyard Theatre Suncoast, Durban Beach
7 MayThe Groves Venue, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
13 MayThe Barnyard Theatre Silverstar, Krugersdorp
14 MayThe Barnyard Theatre Menlyn, Menlyn

German tour dates

12 JuneFernsehgarten Show, Mainz
13 JuneFeierwerk, München
15 JuneMeisenfrei, Bremen
16 JunePiano, Dortmund
17 Junedas Rind, Rüsselsheim am Main
18 JuneHallenbad, Wolfsburg
20 JuneKnust, Hamburg
21 JuneKeller Z87, Würzburg
22 JuneZauberberg, Passau
23 JuneReigen, AT-Wien
25 JuneOpen Air, Ludwigsfelde

Their album Elephant in the Room is available on all digital platforms as well as CD and vinyl. Head to the Watershed website (https://www.watershed.co.za/tour-dates) to purchase tickets to their upcoming shows and follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for news.

Ex-Falling Mirror Drummer Pat Humphreys passes away

Patrick Humphreys | Image: Facebook

It is with great sadness that we share the sad news that Pat Humphreys has passed away.

Pat was the drummer for the legendary Cape Town band, Falling Mirror, alongside Allan Faull and Nielen Mirror, after beginning his association with them as a member of the pre-Falling Mirror band Wakeford Hart in 1970.

Pat then left that band for a few years, until, after a few different line-ups and band names, Allan and Nielen finally settled on the name Falling Mirror in 1978. Pat then re-joined the classic Falling Mirror line up in 1978 alongside Allan (guitar), Nielen (vocals), Pat (drums) and Tully McCully (bass) for their run of classic SA rock albums including ‘Zen Boulders’, ‘The Storming Of The Loft’ and ‘Fantasy Kid’.

On behalf of the South African Rock fraternity we pass on our condolences to the Humphreys family and all Pat’s friends and fellow musicians.

http://fallingmirror.wordpress.com

Falling Mirror, 2013: Harvey Cohen, Sharon Clifton, Nielen Marais, Patrick Humphreys, Allan Faull

Capital Radio 604 Hall Of Fame 2021

Capital Radio 604 Hall Of Fame 2021

The Hall of Fame will be broadcast on our stream from 8am – 6pm on Boxing day  It will include voices from the old DJs (including Smith, Simons, Crozier, Newman, Prior, Kahn, Scott, Blewitt and Oxley)  and jingles and the 150 top songs voted by the 604 fans. To listen click on  https://www.capital604.com/live

The Facebook Group can be found on https://www.facebook.com/groups/Capital604/

Sugar Man – Just Jinger

1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

by John Samson

Greatest Hits - Just Jinger
Greatest Hits – Just Jinger

When Rodriguez walked out onto the stage in Cape Town back in 1998 to kick off his first ever SA tour, he thanked the audience for keeping him alive. And a large part of that thanks could have been directed towards Ard Mathews and Just Jinger as their cover version of the Rodriguez classic, ‘Sugarman’, was probably as important in bringing the Detroit musician to a new generation of fans as the army call up was to his first South African fans.

‘Cold Fact’, the Rodriguez album that contained ‘Sugarman’ had been around since the late 60’s early 70’s and seemed to live in the air we breathed back then. Nearly every white South African home had a copy of the album and everyone knew the song. It seemed only natural then for someone to cover it, but strangely it had to wait till the 90’s before Just Jinger plucked up the courage to take on such a revered song. And they did the right thing with their cover as it is as straight forward a cover of an original as one could get. Just about the only difference between the original and the JJ’s version is Ard’s grungey vocals compared to Rodriguez’s folky ones.

So what, you may ask, is the point of producing a cover that is pretty much the same as the original? Well, I think that the fact that Just Jinger didn’t deviate too far from the original shows their huge respect for the song and the singer as they didn’t want to mess too much with the original, seeing it as perfection in itself, so they could only imitate and not add to it. The second reason that this was an important cover was laid out in the first paragraph of this article. Just Jinger were becoming one of the biggest bands in the land and the fact that they tipped their hat to this classic song had their younger fans digging out their moms and dads CDs to check out the original.

At the time Just Jinger covered this track, there was hardly another cover of the track, let alone a cover of any other Rodriguez tracks out there (there were some and a list of pre-‘Searching For Sugar Man’ covers can be found here: http://sugarman.org/coverversions.html). Just Jinger with their excellent and timely cover of the track helped keep Rodriguez alive and well and they did so reverentially, letting the song take the limelight. This would have to go down as one of the greatest covers of an international track by an SA band.

Where to find it:
Something For Now (1998)
Greatest Hits (2001)

Video:

Mixcloud:

 
The South African Rock Encyclopedia:

Just Jinger

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

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

Illuminating Headlight Dreams

by Brian Currin, June 2021

Back in early April 2021, I read a press release announcing a new album coming from Steve Louw and it included the video of a song called “Crazy River”. I loved the big open spaces this song evoked (and enhanced by the video) and the subtle African guitar sounds reminded me of early Johnny Clegg.

I first heard of Steve Louw in 1990 when the cassette version of the “Pop Shop 48” album featured the song “Waiting For The Dawn” by Big Sky as a bonus track. There is actually no real band called Big Sky, it is the name Steve Louw has used when he surrounds himself with the cream of the crop of American and South African musicians.

I first met Steve in March 1998, backstage at the first Rodriguez concert at the Bellville Velodrome, outside Cape Town. Steve and that year’s incarnation of Big Sky were a worthy support act. The rest of Big Sky (led by Steve’s old buddy since the seventies, Willem Möller) also backed Rodriguez for his set. That sold-out tour of South Africa is featured in the Oscar-winning film, “Searching For Sugar Man“.

Steve recorded two albums in the 80’s with his band All Night Radio, and then four albums as Big Sky between 1990 and 2008, as well as a compilation album, “Best Of The Decade” (in 1999), and a live concert DVD recorded over two nights in 2008.

And now he comes blasting back with his first solo album (well, technically) in 13 years. As in his Big Sky days, he has surrounded himself with some top players in their fields. So let’s drop a few names; “Headlight Dreams” was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, produced by Kevin Shirley, mastered by Bob Ludwig, liner notes by Stephen Thomas Erlewine (from AllMusic), and a guitar solo on “Wind In Your Hair” by one of my favourite guys from the more recent crop of Blues guitar-slingers, Joe Bonamassa.

Louw also brought in some of the best musos in Nashville, namely Kevin McKendree (keyboards), Alison Prestwood (bass), Rob McNelly (guitars) and Greg Morrow (drums). Steve Louw wrote all the songs and sings and plays acoustic guitar.

This album is filled with great songs, from the bluesy, lyrically hard-hitting “Get Out Of My Heart” to the bouncy “Queen Bee Maybe” with its delightful Hammond organ solo from Kevin McKendree, however 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 McNelly 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“.

If you immerse yourself in the Steve Louw back-catalogue you will find recurring themes and reappearing characters, in a similar vein to Rodriguez, Piet Botha and many others. It is one of the things I love about listening to music, that there are rewards for paying extra attention.

This album can be played in the background, but if you give it your full awareness and dive into its depths you will be rewarded with poetic lyrics melded with great tunes, recorded by superb musicians.

Steve’s enthusiasm for life and love is expressed in every note in this superb creation. “Headlight Dreams” deserves to be listened to over and over again, and if you do, you will get something new every time.

Steve Louw on Social

Colin Shamley Dies

Colin Shamley was one of the great musical commentators on life, love and politics in South Africa. I first met him at Dave and Franny’s house in High street, Berea, where I was squatting and selling zol to keep body and soul together. Colin was playing at Mangles and the first time I heard him it was a revelation. The skill, the words, the humour and the incisive view of our crazy world. One of my first gigs was opening for him at Mangles and I went down like a fart in a spacesuit to the mainly biker audience. But it didn’t take long to learn a few of the basic rules of the game from Colin, and I was up and running. I played at Mangles for a year before I recorded my first album. Colin recorded his master work ‘Born Guilty’ at about the same time and both albums received critical acclaim but few sales. “Born Guilty” is truly one of the greatest works ever to come out of this country. Colin died this morning after a long illness. Hamba Kahle Maestro.

Roger Lucey, from Jive Talking & Eyeballing

#MusicExchange: Steve Louw releases new album Headlight Dreams | Biz Community

From Biz Community, by Martin Myers

It’s hard to believe the last music we heard from Steve Louw arrived seven long years ago. With the wait now finally over, fans right around the world are already embracing the pop-rock icon’s return with arms wide open. The past year has been a rich and hugely rewarding one for Louw. Not only did Louw record his brand-new album, Headlight Dreams, in Nashville along with his long-time friend and producer extraordinaire Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Joe Satriani, Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes), but Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and genius guitarist Joe Bonamassa also pitched up and added his magic to the record. 

#MusicExchange: Steve Louw releases new album Headlight Dreams
Steve Louw

To boot, Sony ATV, upon hearing the finished album, offered Louw his first international solo artist record deal.

The album, which is out now, already has two singles on high rotation, “Crazy River” and “Wind in your Hair”; the latter is the one that’s quite literally blowing up all around the world. In its first week of release in the US, the track landed at the highly coveted number two position on the Billboard ACC Folk Chart, ahead of the likes of the equally commendable Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.

“Wind in your Hair” is the track that sports Joe Bonamassa guitar fills and outstanding middle-eight. The single has had over 100,000 plays on Spotify in under three weeks. 

With 10 tracks captured in an arresting three-day recording sprint, producer Kevin Shirley channelled each one of Headlight Dreams’ songs through a vintage Neve console inside of a converted church. 

“From the first moment, I loved the acoustics of the studio and the vibe created by the wonderful Nashville musicians with their great feel and playing, drawing you into a world shimmering in the half-light, just out of reach,” Louw shares.

A consummate storyteller, a supremely gifted guitarist and a genuinely wonderful human being, Louw’s Headlight Dreams is a beautiful statement.

I caught up with the Cape Town resident last week. 

BizcommunityThe new decade means: Radical carbon emission cuts.

BizcommunityFame is about: An illusion.

#MusicExchange: Steve Louw releases new album Headlight Dreams
Steve Louw and Kevin Shirley

BizcommunityRetirement will happen when: You have lived beyond three figures

BizcommunityI don’t do:Fake people. 

BizcommunityMy music is about: Everyday experiences.  

BizcommunityWhat is the most enjoyable aspect of your work? Playing live and singing. 

BizcommunityThe song you must do in every show: “Waiting for the Dawn” 

BizcommunityAny funny moments on stage: When the power tripped, half the show was acoustic; we just kept playing. Luckily, the power came back and then we had an electric show.

BizcommunityMy style icon: Bob Dylan. 

BizcommunityWhat is your most treasured possession? My 1964 Epiphone as played by John (Lennon), Paul (McCartney) and George (Harrison). 

BizcommunityIt’s your round, what are you drinking? Glenmorangie Single Malt. 

BizcommunityWhat makes you stand out? The stage lights. 

BizcommunityNicknames: Stevo. 

BizcommunityIf you were not a musician, what would you do? Conservation. 

BizcommunityWho would play you in a Hollywood blockbuster and why? Edward Norton; we both smirk. 

#MusicExchange: Steve Louw releases new album Headlight Dreams
Steve Louw

BizcommunityPick five words to describe yourself: Musical, songwriter, guitar player, dendrophile, singer.

BizcommunityFive favourite SA albums: 
GBB – Eet Kreef
Baxtop – Work It Out
Juluka – Scatterlings
Tananas – Tananas
Tribe After Tribe – Power

BizcommunityWhat is your favourite word? Truth.  

BizcommunityFavourite fashion garment: My leather flying jacket. 

BizcommunityGive us some real proper slang and what it means: Lank kiff: Awesome, great. 

BizcommunityYour greatest achievement: My family. 

BizcommunityWhat do you complain about most often? Dishonesty. 

BizcommunityWhat is your fear? Large puff adders. 

BizcommunityHappiness is: Riding motorcycles. 

BizcommunityWhere would you like to be right now? Where I am.  

BizcommunityDo you do charity work and, if you do, what do you do? Yes, conservation. 

Twitter: @stevelouwmusic

Website: SteveLouw.com

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

Steve Louw new album ‘Headlight Dreams’ out today & featuring Joe Bonamassa | Music Exchange

In less than 3 weeks since the single release with Joe Bonamassa entitled “Wind in your Hair” Spotify figures reveal over 68 000 listeners and over 98 000 streams of the song “Wind in your Hair “ – a remarkable feat!

Steve Louw shines on Headlight Dreams

Cape Town, 7 May 2021 – It’s hard to believe the last new music we heard from Steve Louw arrived seven long years ago. With the wait now finally over, fans right around the world are already embracing the pop/rock icon’s return with arms wide open.

The past year has been a rich and hugely rewarding one for Steve. Not only did Steve record his brand-new album, Headlight Dreams, in Nashville, along with his long-time friend and producer extraordinaire, Kevin Shirley (John Hiatt, Joe Satriani, Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes), but Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and genius guitarist, Joe Bonamassa also pitched up and added his magic to the record. To boot, SONY ATV, upon hearing the finished album, offered Steve his first international solo artist record deal.

The album now out and with two singles already on high rotation, “Crazy River” and “Wind in your Hair”, the latter is the one that’s quite literally blowing up all around the world. In its first week of release in the US, the track landed at the highly coveted Number Two position on the Billboard ACC Folk Chart, ahead of the likes of the equally commendable Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.

Along with its spellbinding video, “Wind in your Hair is the track that sports Joe Bonamassa guitar fills and outstanding middle-eight. What makes this song all the more special for its maker is the fact that Kevin sent it to a friend to master, thereby adding the final piece of magic to this blinding brilliant musical statement.

Wind In Your Hair


Steve’s wedding anniversary was coming up two days after the album wrapped and, unbeknownst to Steve at the time, Kevin had sent the track to mastering legend, Bob Ludwig and within a day he’d mastered it and sent it on to Steve on the day as a gift to celebrate his nuptials. “When I got it, I played it on my little Bose speaker out into New York. It was one of the greatest moments ever!” Steve recalls. To top it off, Bob sent an email with the final mastered track saying, “What a wonderful song, what a wonderful vocal performance, I loved working on this”. “I practically did a giddy summersault,” he recalls.

As to the creation of the track, Steve points to how, lyrically, he sings of love changing and building between two people as life throws up detours and bridges. “It’s a love story exploring how two people, who love each other but have different needs and desires, travel through their life and love. The chorus kicks back to the joy of love, while the verses take you on a journey of rough and smooth roads and winding passes, ending at the place they set out for.”

With ten tracks captured in an arresting three-day recording sprint, producer Kevin Shirley channelled each one of Headlight Dreams’ songs through a vintage Neve console inside of a converted church. “From the first moment I loved the acoustics of the studio and the vibe created by the wonderful Nashville musicians with their great feel and playing, drawing you into a world shimmering in the half-light, just out of reach…,” Steve shares.

With the promise of future live shows in support of the album’s release, fans can look forward to sharing what is the greatest ride of Steve Louw’s life. A consummate storyteller, a supremely gifted guitarist and a genuinely wonderful human being, Steve’s Headlight Dreams is a beautiful statement, endorsed and applauded by everyone it touches.

Headlight Dreams is out now via BFD/The Orchard.

Website: SteveLouw.com

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