Steve Louw is back in town

By Time of article published Apr 21, 2008

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Steve Louw, the man behind the rock 'n roll that was All Night Radio and is the voice, inspiration and writer behind Big Sky, is back.

On the eve of the recording of the live DVD being hosted at Die Boer in Durbanville on Thursday and Friday, Louw is bubbling on the back of his band Big Sky's latest 10-track album, Trancas Canyon, and the upcoming Cape Town history-in-the-making shows.

"We recorded Trancas Canyon in three days and we're going to be recording a DVD in two - we clearly work well under pressure," he said.

With a catalogue that stretches three decades and counting, long-time producer, Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley as a friend makes for some great music, if his catalogue and especially, the new album is any indicator.

"When your mate (Shirley) is remixing Led Zeppelin one week and is Iron Maiden's right-hand man the next, getting him behind the desk to produce the next Big Sky album can only bring with it good things," Louw enthuses.

"I had written a lot of stuff since the last album Beyond The Blue (recorded in 2002)," Louw adds, "and having rehearsed much of what you hear on Trancas Canyon before I headed for the Californian desert where Kevin is based, I was more than ready to commit these songs to tape.

"The album has an almost swampy feel," he continues. "To use a word that's completely abused, but non the less true, all of the songs play out very organically.

"We recorded at Kevin's house, which is 50 miles (80km) outside of Los Angeles. I was playing in the lounge and Kevin was sitting in his booth starring back at me, which was the equivalent of jamming with a bunch of mates on a Sunday afternoon.

"All of the songs we recorded play out so incredibly naturally, with almost a live spontaneity, which is sorely lacking in so much of the music you hear today."

Having worked with Kevin for as many years as he's been noted for recording some of rock music's biggest hits, including those performed by Aerosmith or The Springbok Nude Girls, Shirley is without doubt one of the world's most gifted 47 year-old ex-pats making great music sound timeless, exactly what he does each time that he and Big Sky make time to record.

"He (Kevin) is never going to grow up," Louw laughs. "He's exactly the same as he's always been. His eldest son is 20 and his youngest 18 months, from a wife 25 years his junior. The man defies the rules on every level."

Steve admits that he writes and performs without assistance beyond his great band of players, which include Willem Moller on guitar, Simon Orange on keyboards, Schalk Joubert on bass and Tim Rankin on drums, all of whom will be performing alongside Steve at the upcoming Durbanvillle DVD recordings, but producing he leaves to the Shirleys of the world.

"Kevin's real ability lies in his knack to be able to embrace the best of what I do artistically, and couple that with his technical ability," Louw says.

"What you land up with on Trancas Canyon are songs with so much texture you can almost touch it, it's so rich."

So what can fans of the man and his catalogue expect on the night? "Rob Nagel from my All Night Radio days will be there, and it's rumoured Tim Parr may just also make an appearance, but you never know with him," he jokes.

Add excellent acoustics and a great sit-down venue in which to engage with classic tracks the weight of Waiting For The Dawn, Mr Green, One Cut With A Knife, as well as at least seven tracks from Trancas Canyon, evenly spread over the two-night Big Sky residency, and patrons will get to experience and be a part of performances and recording of some of the best songs in South African rock history.

Writing and recording is what gives Louw's life meaning and relevance.

With seven albums neatly tucked under his belt, the music within Trancas Canyon and it's complimentary artwork created by celebrated artist and author Pippa Skotnes, is fuel enough to generate yet another chapter born in Africa, realised in a canyon in Malibu, and soon to be captured live for posterity.

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