Darren Watson

aka Chicago Smoke Shop, Smoke Shop


Whanganui and the Hutt Valley are a long way from the Mississippi Delta, but they both have rivers, and stories. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Darren Watson grew up in these places and caught on to the blues as a teenager in the early 1980s, after seeing Muddy Waters in the movie The Last Waltz.

Watson was already performing blues and rock in high-school bands, but something in Muddy’s performance and guitar playing inspired the budding bassist (and trumpeter) to take up the electric guitar and develop his singing style. Buying records was out of the question for the teenage Darren and his mate Terry Casey, so in those pre-internet days they hit the Wellington Public Library blues section and took home supplies of Muddy, and the three Kings – BB, Freddie and Albert – stuffed tightly into green canvas library record bags.

Real Deal Blues Band, 2009
Darren Watson covers Not Given Lightly by Chris Knox, 2020
Darren Watson - Planet Key (2014, directed by Jeremy Jones)
Hotel Bristol, 2002
Poster for Darren Watson's South Pacific Soul, 2005
Darren Watson, soul brother
Darren Watson - South Pacific Soul (2005)
Smoke Shop, 1990. From left: Alan Norman, keyboards; Steven Hemmens, bass; Aaron Te One, guitar; Darren Watson; Richard Te One, drums. 
Marchwood Blues Picnic, 2015
Capital Times, 1989
Getting Sober For The End Of The World (2020)
So Glad
Darren Watson, 2000
Photo credit: Robert Catto
Darren Watson and the Dangerous Experts - A Desperate Man (live at Capital Blues 21st Birthday celebrations, 11 Nov 2017)
Darren Watson with Delia Shanly - Love Is An Ocean (live at RNZ, 2015)
The Spines at San Francisco Bath House, Wellington at a fundraiser for Darren Watson and Jeremy Jones' bid to take the Electoral Commission to the New Zealand High Court over the Commission ruling that the song and video Planet Key was an election advertisement. Left to right: Jon McLeary, Malky Taylor, Les Knight.
Photo credit: Photo by Wendy Collins
Amberley gig poster, 2013
Darren Watson - Love Is An Ocean - from Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy
Chicago Smoke Shop
Darren Watson, 2014
Photo credit: Lindsay Keats
Chicago Smoke Shop - (You Want) Another Man (1989)
Darren Watson - That Guy Could Sing (2018)
Poster for King Size, 2002
Smoke Shop, 1988. From left: Steve Butts, trumpet; Darrin Hancock, bass; Andrew Bickers, saxophone; Aaron Te One, guitar; Richard Te One, drums; Darren Watson kneeling in front.
Darren Watson and the Real Deal Blues Band, 2010
Darren Watson, 2020
Darren Watson - Man in the Sky (2023)
Darren Watson poster, 2000
Wellington Soundshell, 2006
Photo credit: Lindsay Keats
Marianne Faithful support, 1991
Darren Watson and the Real Deal Blues Band, 2010. From left: Richard Te One, drums; Darren Watson; Alan Norman, keyboards; Elliot Fuimaono, bass. 
Darren Watson - King Size (2002)
Darren Watson and Matt Langley, 2015
Darren Watson, 2004
Introducing Darren Watson (2014)
Darren Watson's Real Deal Blues Band, 2010
Darren Watson - National Guy (2018)
Mind On My Sleeve
Poster for Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy, 2010
Darren Watson - Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (2010)
Darren Watson - Planet Key (2014)
Darren Watson, Too Many Millionaires (2018)
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