Darren Watson gained New Zealand-wide fame in the late eighties as the principal songwriter and front-man for rhythm n’ blues outfit Chicago Smoke Shop. The group of blues-mad Hutt Valley teenagers made two albums, had several bona-fide radio hits, and with a few years of hard touring won a secure place in the hearts of Kiwi music fans. Before they imploded Smoke Shop 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.
Since leaving Smoke Shop in the early 90's Watson has cemented his reputation as the nation's most original, contemporary blues voice. He's released six blues-based albums including 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, Introducing Darren Watson from 2014.
Watson's latest album, 2018's Too Many Millionaires represents a major shift in direction for the veteran bluesman. Recorded 'live-to-tape' at Wellington's Surgery Studios by award-winning engineer Lee Prebble (Black Seeds, Phoenix Foundation, Dave Dobbyn) the record features all acoustic performances and has received rave reviews in local and international media.
Too Many Millionaires debuted at number three on the Official NZ Top 20 Album Chart and stayed in the charts for five weeks. It is by far Darren Watson's most successful album to date.
Watson completed an eleven date tour of New Zealand during May of 2018, performing Too Many Millionaires live with the studio band to sold out houses including a headline show at the 2018 Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival.