Blues in New Zealand
The history of blues in New Zealand dates from the 1960s. The earliest blues influences on New Zealand musicians were indirect — not from the United States but from white British blues musicians: first the R&B styles of The Animals and The Rolling Stones, and later the blues-tinged rock of groups such as Led Zeppelin. The first American blues artist to make a big impact in New Zealand was Stevie Ray Vaughan in the early 1980s. Other blues-related genres such as soul and gospel almost completely by-passed New Zealand audiences, except for a handful of hits from cross-over artists such as Ray Charles.
While New Zealand does not have its own blues style, it does have some fine blues artists, some excellent venues, including the Southern Blues Bar in Christchurch and The Hotel Bristol in Wellington, and an established following (including members of The New Zealand Blues Society and the Wellington Blues Club — Capital Blues).
Darren Watson is a singer and guitarist in a wide range of blues styles, as well as an international award-winning songwriter. Watson led the very popular blues band Smoke Shop, which featured on the New Zealand charts and toured extensively throughout the country in the 1980s and 1990s, opening for several international blues artists including NZ tours with Koko Taylor, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and two tours with The Robert Cray Band. More recently Watson has recorded three successful albums: King Size, which was nominated for Best Roots Album at the 2003 NZ Music Awards, 2005's South Pacific Soul, and his latest Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy, which Wellington's Dominion Post named in their Top 5 albums of 2010. And was recently favourably reviewed in prestigious US publication Blues Revue.
Tura "Bullfrog" Rata
Tura "Bullfrog" Rata is a blues singer and guitarist who often plays alongside Midge Marsden.
The Windy City Strugglers
The Windy City Strugglers is a Wellington band whose music is based on the singing, songwriting and guitar playing of Bill Lake and the vocals of Rick Bryant. Long-serving band members are Andrew Delahunty on guitar, harmonica and mandolin and Nick Bollinger on double bass.
The Remarkable Beat Roosters
The Remarkable Beat Roosters was formed in the mid-1990s by members of Midge Marsden's band, Sid Limbert (bass), Freddy Limbert (drums) and Brian Harley (guitar), and became New Zealand's most powerful R&B trio, rapidly gaining a loyal New Zealand-wide cult following. Their only recording, Live 'n' Loose, has become a collectors' item. It was recorded in Sid Limbert's home studio in 1996. It is a cross section of their regular set material, but the standout is Limbert's original slow blues "Blues Still Blue", an evocative memory of the first time he visited Mississippi. The Remarkable Beat Roosters opened for B. B. King's Auckland concert in the early 1990s. King was so impressed that he called them up on stage at the end of the show. This was also a reunion with King's long-time drummer Caleb Emphryas, who had taken the Limberts fishing in Mississippi some years before. All the band members are still actively playing. Freddy Limbert has teamed up with Simen "Bluekeys" Taylor to form a blues duo and Sid Limbert toured New Zealand with his son Freddy, Taylor and Darren Watson in 2005.
Mike Brosnan is a songwriter, singer and guitarist. Despite extensive international touring, for much of his early career he remained relatively unknown in the wider world. This lack of wider recognition may have been due to the music industry's inability to pigeonhole his music, containing as it does such diverse influences: from rock to folk, from blues to Celtic to country. His slide guitar work is considered a highlight, with many positive comparisons drawn with Ry Cooder's best work. Brosnan now lives, performs and records very successfully in Germany and his latest album, Beneath Southland Skies, has been reviewed very favourably both in Europe and New Zealand. Included are the gritty, real-life details of "Another Song for the Road", the dark poetry of "Be with You" and the rocking opening track "Letter to a Friend".
Hammond Gamble is a singer and guitarist. He achieved considerable fame in the late 1970s fronting one of the biggest bands on the New Zealand rock circuit at the time, Street Talk, and later the Hammond Gamble Band. He recorded two albums with Street Talk and three under his own name. Probably his best and most widely known recording is the live 1995 album Plugged in and Blue. Gamble is also a songwriter. Joe Cocker recorded his song "If You’ve Got Love, Give Me Some", and Gamble composed rock classics such as "Leaving the Country" and "Should I be Good or Should I be Evil". In 1992 and 1993 he had a number-one hit with a rare non-original, "You Make the Whole World Smile". Gamble has won a number of New Zealand awards, including Rock Performer of the Year, Album of the Year, APRA Silver Scroll and Film Soundtrack of the Year. He has played as a support act for many major performers in New Zealand including Tina Turner, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt and Joe Cocker.
Malcolm Bishop and Blutopia
Malcolm Bishop and Blutopia is a 10 piece band. The band was originally founded in Christchurch but Malcolm moved to Auckland in April 2010 and reformed the band.
- "International Songwriting Competition Winners Page". International Songwriting Competition. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- "Stuff website". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
- "Blues Revue Digital Edition Nov/Dec 2011 website". . Retrieved 7 Jan 2012.
- New Zealand Blues and Views — contains a selection of albums from New Zealand blues artists.
- New Zealand Blues Society — contains an extensive archive of New Zealand blues music reviews and articles, frequently updated New Zealand and international blues news, and New Zealand blues artists' directory.
- Hamilton Blues Society — Monthly jams, weekly blues radio, gig guide and more.