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

#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

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

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