image of blues artist Darren Watson

Darren Watson – Too Many Millionaires

Veteran Wellington-based blues-man Darren Watson is proud to announce the release of Too Many Millionaires. His first all-acoustic affair.

You’ll hear echoes of artists like Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson but you’ll also hear a rapidly maturing songwriter at the peak of his game.


Influences like John Hiatt, Lyle Lovett, and of course Wellington genius songwriter Bill Lake come through strongly as well. This isn’t just a collection of lyrics hurriedly-written to fill in between solos, Watson has something to say and says it with flair and subtlety in equal measure.


More than any previous Darren Watson recording, Too Many Millionaires shows that the veteran of three decades’ worth of hard graft – writing, recording and performing the blues in the relative isolation of New Zealand – has truly found his own voice and found a way to make it work inside a finished recording, unlike anything he’s done to date.

Recorded live in the studio by award-winning engineer Lee Prebble, Watson surrounded himself with a talented and sympathetic band. The resulting tracks are pure, intimate magic.

Steve Moodie’s double bass is always there, solid and propulsive as hell, but never in the way. Dayle Jellyman’s piano also traces beautifully around the tunes, never distracting, always adding.

Delia Shanly’s percussion is also both glue and icing. Check out her doggedly playing straight across the shuffle of National Guy, holding it together when the band starts messing with the groove. Brilliant.

Terry Casey on harmonica is a revelation too. Folks like NZ Blues legend Midge Marsden have been singing Casey’s praises to anyone who’ll listen for decades.

But short of one track on a Chicago Smoke Shop album in 1989 no one has been able to hear the man New Zealand’s most famous harmonica player is in awe of.

Now we finally get to hear and what sublime tone, timing, and taste! Plenty of imagination and flights of original fancy too. But mostly just amazing and beautiful TONE!

Too Many Millionaires was made to be enjoyed in one sitting. Take the time, put your feet up and you’ll be rewarded with the best thirty five minute journey you’ll have this year!

Darren Watson | Background

Image of NZ blues artist Darren WatsonDarren Watson gained New Zealand-wide fame in the late ‘80s as the song-writing, guitar-slinging’ front-man for rhythm n’ blues outfit Chicago Smoke Shop (later just Smoke Shop).

The group of blues-mad Hutt Valley teenagers made two albums and had several bonafide radio hits. With a few years of hard touring, the band won a secure place in the hearts of Kiwi music fans.

Before they imploded, Smoke Shop also 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. All this while barely out of his teens!

Since leaving Smoke Shop in the early 90’s Watson has cemented his reputation as NZ’s most original, contemporary blues voice.

As of early 2018, he had released five world-class albums including 2002’s King Size which was a New Zealand Music Award finalist.

2005’s South Pacific Soul included the song All Going Wrong which won 1st place in the blues section of the 2008 International Songwriting Competition.

2010’s Saint Hilda’s Faithless Boy was critically acclaimed both in NZ and overseas, and Introducing Darren Watson from 2014 did a very rare thing for a Kiwi blues artist in the 21st century – it spent some time in the mainstream album charts, peaking at a respectable #6 on the NZ Albums Top 20.

That same year Watson had to fight and win High Court and Court of Appeal battles to have his satirical song Planet Key available for sale and broadcast after it was effectively banned by the Electoral Commission.

album cover artwork for Darren Watson, Too Many MillionairesDarren’s latest album, Too Many Millionaires, was released on May 1, 2018, to rave reviews locally and internationally.

Commercially the album has already surpassed anything Watson has released before, including his work with Smoke Shop, debuting on the NZ Albums Top 20 at #3, topping even millionaire Kiwi pop artist Lorde’s Melodrama.

It also charted at #1 on the IMNZ Top 20 Album Chart.

For More Info – Darren Watson

ALBUM REVIEW by M.D. Spencer

“the finest acoustic blues CD this reviewer has heard in quite some time”

cd review for Darren Watson - Too Many Millionaires

For Tour Info See – Darren Watson – Shows