Darren Watson gained New Zealand-wide fame in the late ‘80s as the song-writing, guitar-slingin’ front-man for rhythm n’ blues outfit Chicago Smoke Shop (later just Smoke Shop). The group of blues-mad Hutt Valley teenagers made two albums, had several bona-fide radio hits. With a few years hard touring the band won a secure place in the hearts of Kiwi music fans. Before they imploded, Smoke Shop also earned multiple NZ Music Award nominations and shared stages on NZ tours with international artists like Koko Taylor, The Robert Cray Band, George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Book tickets through Darren's website. $20
Since leaving Smoke Shop in the early 90's Watson has cemented his reputation as the nation's most original, contemporary blues voice. As of early 2018 he had released four world-class albums including 2002's King Size which was a NZ Music Award finalist. 2005's South Pacific Soul included the song All Going Wrong which won 1st place in the blues section of the 2008 International Songwriting Competition. 2010's Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy was critically acclaimed both in NZ and overseas, and Introducing Darren Watson from 2014 did a very rare thing for a Kiwi blues artist in the 21st century – it spent some time in the mainstream album charts, peaking at a respectable #26, while hitting #6 on the NZ Artists Chart.That same year Watson had to fight and win High Court and Court of Appeal battles to have his satirical song Planet Key available for sale and broadcast after it was effectively banned by the Electoral Commission. Darren’s latest album, Too Many Millionaires, is out on May 1, 2018.
Watson is also embarking on an 11-date national tour in support of the album throughout May. (Dates and venues listed below.) Too Many Millionaires is Watson’s sixth album. However it’s the first released to be specifically produced for, and manufactured on vinyl. It’s also the first to move away from his trademark stinging electric guitar lines, and slick, modern studio production.
Eschewing modern recording & overdubbing techniques almost altogether, Watson sat in front of valve and ribbon microphones for two days at Wellington’s Surgery Studios last November with only his ‘50s vintage Gibson acoustic guitar and his lived-in voice. Joined by a handpicked acoustic band including blues harmonica virtuoso Terry Casey, he and the band played ‘live to tape’ through a selection of his newest compositions. The best takes were kept and mixed by multi award-winning engineer Lee Prebble. The result is an immediacy and intimacy that Watson does not think he has captured on any of his previous, more ‘polished’ recordings.“You know what? I feel like this might be my first ‘proper’ album. It’s the first time I’ve ever left a studio and thought, Wow, that REALLY sounds like me. There’s no glossing over, no smoothing out the rough edges, or
tidy ups. It’s how I sound... warts and all. The band played SO good, and Lee Prebble caught the lightning so well!“
Darren hopes the record will be enjoyed by blues fans of course but he also reckons country, gospel, folk, and even pop listeners will enjoy Too Many Millionaires.
“There’s stuff on this record drawn from all over the roots music spectrum. I’ve been working real hard on honing my writing and playing and listening hard to loads of different music from the 20s through to the 40s. I think a lot of it will resonate with fans of all kinds of roots music.“Tickets $20, through Darren's website at www.darrenwatson.com Doorsales from 7:30pm: strictly limited numbers.