As Steve Louw releases Thunder And Rain, his second album in as many years, he speaks to Nils van der Linden about finding inspiration in nature, facing his mortality, the power of keeping things simple, a life lived through music, and that one time he shared a stage with Beyoncé.
Steve Louw’s been a fixture of the South African music scene since the mid 1970s, first travelling between folk clubs in his Volkswagen Kombi to perform originals and blues covers on his 12-string Ibanez.
By 1986 he’d recorded two albums with the band All Night Radio. The first was produced by The Kinks collaborator John Rollo, secured after impressing The E Street Band’s Little Steven with a cassette of live recordings. The second was produced by Kevin Shirley, whose CV now includes Joe Bonamassa, Iron Maiden, The Black Crowes, and Led Zeppelin.
Inevitably All Night Radio broke up. “It was just too much touring, too much in the Kombi, too much together, too much fast food,” he laughs in a Cape Town coffee shop just around the corner from the studio where they’d recorded that first LP.
Louw continued, debuting his new band Big Sky with 1990’s Shirley-produced Waiting For The Dawn. Its title track became an anthem of hope and reconciliation at a time of political transformation at the southern tip of Africa and paved the way for and an ongoing creative partnership with Shirley, several more albums, and multiple hit singles.