We have just watched your documentary and think there should be more people like you in the world who share the wealth of their love as well as in other ways too. You have been an incredible father to your daughters who seem in awe of you and grateful for the life you provided for them. Your music is so poetic and beautiful and we would love to hear you in one final tour, or maybe a live performance recorded in Detroit?
Sending love and so much gratitude for you in the world.Anz and Teed xxxxxxx
by John Samson
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.
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“.
… 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”
STEVE LOUW ONLINE
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
This documentary was shown on South African Television this week, 20 years ago.
Footage from this documentary features strongly in the Oscar winning film, Searching For Sugar Man.
This film features wonderful concert footage, backstage antics, interviews with Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, Rodriguez and his family, the promoters, the fans and the musicians.
All live footage was filmed at the concerts in Pretoria, Durban and the Blues Room in Johannesburg.
The soundtrack for the documentary is based on the Live Fact CD with video collages from the various performances. The concert footage is linked with interviews, backstage antics, rehearsals, etc.
- I Wonder
- Inner City Blues
- Jane S. Piddy
- Sugar Man
- A Most Disgusting Song
- Like Janis
- Establishment Blues
- Climb Up On My Music
- I Wonder by Generation EXT (filmed during the studio recording)
- Forget It
Produced by Incha Productions
Executive producers: Georgina Parkin and Charles Watson
Directed by Tonia Selley
Edited by Cathy Winter
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.
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/
And for any media inquiries, please contact:
Martin Myers / Jason Curtis
083 448 4475 / 082 555 5993
Just wish to say thank you for your music. I have been an instant fan the minute I saw Searching for Sugarman. I wonder (no pun intended) how you are these days and what you think about the times we are living in now. I hope you are writing new songs because I feel your voice and music could be a big help in the ongoing press for change in the USA and the rest of the west.
Hope to see one of your concerts this year. Peace to you and your family.
Love from Canada.
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.
It’s one of pop music’s unlikeliest and greatest comeback stories ever: a Mexican-American singer-songwriter from Detroit named Sixto Rodriguez recorded two albums of psychedelic folk rock in the early 1970s that went nowhere in the U.S. upon their initial release; afterwards, he worked in construction. Unbeknownst to him, his music was a huge hit in South Africa, where his unsentimental and gritty outsider lyrics resonated with young liberal Afrikaners during that country’s policy of apartheid. Rodriguez’s impact on South Africa and his subsequent reemergence in the late 1990s–thanks to the efforts of some dedicated fans–formed the crux of the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, directed by the late Malik Bendjelloul. Due to the success of the film, Rodriguez’s music has experienced belated and renewed attention.
Costa Dedes has been producing music for about 10 years in Detroit. After watching the ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ documentary, he was inspired to do a Sixto Rodriguez tune with an all-star line-up of Detroit artists…..
JRae with some female vocals (she plays The Old Miami where an ominous “Sixto for Mayor” poster hangs!).
Pato Margetic, the local Argentine-born Detroit singer, singing Sixto’s parts.
And Jerome Joyce, the long-time Detroit veteran MC now based in LA.
Give it a listen here: