No-one plays classic rhythm & blues like Darren Watson. Over the better part of three decades he has developed a style that, while touching on all of the greats who inspired him, is personal, powerful and identifiably his own.
Watson gained New Zealand-wide fame in the late 1980s as the fresh-faced, young front-man and guitar-slinger for Chicago Smoke Shop. The band made two albums and had radio hits that made the mainstream record charts. The songs were penned and sung by Watson. They also toured opening for international blues legends like Koko Taylor, Robert Cray, rocker George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. One of the hardest working bands in the country, Smoke Shop gained a long-lived and solid reputation.
Since leaving that band in the early 90's Watson has cemented his reputation as the country's most original, contemporary blues voice, with four world-class albums: 2002's King Size (which was nominated for a NZ Music Award), 2005's South Pacific Soul, 2010's internationally acclaimed Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy, and Introducing Darren Watson from 2014.
On the live front Watson has also opened for New Orleans master Dr. John, worked alongside Billy Boy Arnold, toured with Doug McLeod, Joe Cocker, Keb Mo, and nu-soul exponent Eli 'Paperboy' Reed. He's also appeared at WOMAD, The Australian Blues Music Festival, Blues On Broadbeach, and multiple festival appearances in New Zealand over the years.
In 2009 Watson's skills as a songwriter won him first place in the Blues section of the International Songwriting Competition, judged by artists like James Cotton and John Mayall. And many of his tunes have been finalists in that competition in other years.
Darren Watson is definitely one to watch as a performer, writer, and all-round entertainer.