Darren Watson

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Darren Watson
New Zealand bluesman Darren Watson in 2013.
Background information
Birth name Darren Watson
Origin Wanganui, North Island, New Zealand.
Genres Blues, Soul, Pop
Occupations Musician
Years active 1985–present
Labels Pagan Records NZ (1988-1998)
Red Rocks Records (2005-2011)
Unsigned (2012-present)
Website www.darrenwatson.com

Darren Watson is a New Zealand singer, songwriter and guitarist in a wide range of blues styles.

Darren Watson was born in Wanganui. His first musical experience was playing drums and trumpet but he soon moved on to guitar and was playing in bars and clubs throughout his years at Hutt Valley High School (1980–83).

In 1985, he formed Chicago Smoke Shop with harmonica player Terry Casey and, although Casey left the band in 1987, the band went on to record two charting LPs and several radio hits. The group was also in big demand as a support act by international touring bands. Between 1987 and 1990, Smoke Shop (the 'Chicago' tag was eventually dropped) opened for NZ tours by Robert Cray (twice), Koko Taylor, George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Since leaving Smoke Shop Watson has recorded three successful albums: King Size (2002), which was nominated for Best Roots Album at the 2003 New Zealand Music Awards,[1] South Pacific Soul (2005) which received favourable reviews from both local and international media, and Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (2010).

In late April 2009 Darren won 1st place in the blues section of the prestigious International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, USA, with his song "All Going Wrong", a cut from South Pacific Soul. Judges for the competition included Tom Waits, James Cotton, John Mayall, and Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer.[2] Watson has gone on to finish on the 'podium' in 2010, judged in 3rd in the blues category of the International Songwriting Competition for 'Can't Get Enough of You'.[3]

Watson's latest album Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy was released 1 November 2010 on Red Rocks Records.

In July 2011 Darren was selected to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Previous winners include Sean Costello and Suzan Tedeschi. The event takes place in February 2012.[4]

In Feb. 2012 Darren performed at The Australian Blues Music Festival in Goulburn, New South Wales, and in May of the same year he headlined the Blues on Broadbeach Festival in Queensland.

Work began on Watson's new album in October 2013. Release is planned for mid-2014.

Discography As a leader
Chicago Smoke Shop Self-titled 1989
Smoke Shop So Glad 1990
Smoke Shop Fusion at Room Temperature (Best Of) 1996
Darren Watson Overnight Sensations 1998
Darren Watson King Size 2002
Darren Watson South Pacific Soul 2005
Darren Watson Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy 2010
Discography As a sideman
Bill Lake Home Truths 1996
Marg Layton Trouble Then Satisfaction 1998
Various Artists The Underwatermelon Man 1999
Midge Marsden Travel N' Time 2006
Matt Hay Inside Stories 2007


  1. ^ "Vodafone NZ Music Awards 2003 Winners". 5 July 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Burgess, Dave (5 July 2009). "It's all going right for songwriter". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "International Songwriting Competition Winners Page". International Songwriting Competition. Retrieved 26 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "Kiwi Bluesman Taking On The World". Scoop.co.nz. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011. 

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