Darren 'Smoke Shop' Watson celebrates 30 years of the blues

Darren "Smoke Shop" Watson gets a little nostalgic with a new band, but the same good ol' blues.
Lindsay Keats

Darren "Smoke Shop" Watson gets a little nostalgic with a new band, but the same good ol' blues.

Remember Chicago Smoke Shop? 30 years ago, Darren Watson's archetypal blues band played the country's highways and byways, including gigs at Palmerston North's Albert Tavern. 

While that live music venue is no more, Darren 'Smoke Shop" Watson  is back on Albert St for a night with a new band.

On Saturday Darren Watson & The Dangerous Experts plug into the Hokowhitu Bowling Club at 279 Albert St for an evening of new fashion musical fun.

For the last decade or so, Watson has confined himself largely to playing solo acoustic gigs around the Wellington region, though there have been four albums and high profile political controversy.  

In 2002 he released NZ Music Award nominee King Size. In 2005 came South Pacific Soul, and then the internationally acclaimed Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy in 2010. The ironically titled Introducing Darren Watson came out in 2014. 

That election year 2014 there was also the Planet Key incident, with Watson's satirical song reaching No.6 on the NZ Singles Chart before being classified as an election ad and banned by the Electoral Commission. The ban was overturned by a landmark High Court decision the following year, and the ruling upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2016.

So, what spurred the veteran bluesman to get back into the live band groove? 

"It's been 30 years, mate. Smoke Shop played quite a few times at the old Albert Tavern back in the day, including supporting Koko Taylor there, so it's cool to be able to bring my new band to an Albert St venue for the anniversary tour.

"I haven't brought a band to Palmy for ages and this line-up is totally kick-ass. I hope Manawatu comes out to celebrate with me. It'll be a blast."

That "kick-ass" band line-up features "killer" pianist Dayle Raymond Jellyman from the Roseneath Centennial Ragtime Band and Little Bushman's drummer Rick Cranson, with Miles Calder and Steve Moodie on double bass and Fender bass.

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"Folks can expect some real deep blues stuff of course, 'cause I love that stuff so much, but there's heaps of great old school dance-based grooves too," Watson said.

Tickets for the anniversary gig are available on Eventfinda, and from Steve Tolley on 06 329 8808. 



 - Stuff


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