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Join us for a high-octane celebration of New Zealand blues music on the beautiful Kāpiti Coast. Headlining this inaugural Coastal Blues event is New Zealand’s finest blues artist Darren Watson with all the pump and grind of his explosive Wellington-based band. Appearing alongside Darren Watson this bluesy, musical evening are rising stars The Caramello's and blueswoman Karen Clarke.
The bluesy line up:
Firmly established as a world class blues talent and New Zealand’s finest blues artist Darren Watson’s impressive musical career over thirty-five years has earned him nation-wide recognition as a heavy weight of the New Zealand entertainment industry.
Darren first took his place on the nation’s playlist in the late eighties as the fresh-faced principal songwriter and front-man for rhythm and blues outfit Chicago Smoke Shop. The group of blues-mad Hutt Valley teenagers made two albums, had several bonafide 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 greats like Koko Taylor, The Robert Cray Band, George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Watson cemented his reputation as the nation's most original, contemporary, blues-based voice after leaving Smoke Shop in the early '90s. He's released seven albums to date 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. 2018's Too Many Millionaires represented a major shift in direction for the veteran musician. 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, including in the prestigious Downbeat (USA), and Blues Matters (UK) magazines. Too Many Millionaires debuted at number three on the Official NZ Top 20 Album Chart and stayed in the charts for five weeks. In October of 2020, Watson released Getting Sober For The End Of The World which has been universally praised and was nominated for the 2021 Best Folk Artist Tūī.
Watson is a consummate powerhouse performer with a deep understanding of roots music and exceptional acoustic blues prowess.
Having earned her own piece of the New Zealand singer songwriter stage and acoustic music circuit, Karen Clarke numbers among New Zealand’s fine blueswomen. Karen’s trademark smoky vocals and driving rhythm guitar work anchor her pared-back, solo performance. It’s strong. Built. This mama loves to sing. Hints of her R&B, country, and roots pedigree shine through her warm and gutsy stage presence. You will remember you've met.
Karen will be familiar to audiences in the lower north island area through a number of ensembles including high-revving blues rock duo Back Beat Chauffeur’s alongside rocker guitarist Rob Wilson, Blues duo KC and The Doctors Rhythm and Blues Dispensary with Nic Boheimer (aka Jelly Legs - The Most FM Bell Street Blues Show and Blue Monkey Racket), the formidable female acoustic duo GloryBox alongside vocalist Celine Filbee, and formerly five-piece traveling band Hard Candy alongside country picker Bob Cooper Grundy and multi-instrumentalist Kate Marshall.
Karen recorded her debut album “Is that right Barbie” in 2009 and the following year Hard Candy went on to record their debut album “100 Cups of Coffee”. Her latest album of undeniable original work “Sugar Bones”, co-produced by Andrew London, is due for release early in 2021.
Now based in Taranaki, Karen returns home to the Kāpiti Coast to open this Coastal Blues show in support of the ever-evolving Kāpiti music scene.
New Zealand's premier traditional blues ensemble. With a repertoire rising from the crossroads of Mississippi to down town Chicago (and every juke joint in between) the impressive musicianship within this ten-piece line up comes at you like rolling thunder.
Beginning as a trio working blues covers, the Caramello’s went on to develop their renown “History of the Blues” show which drew in a strong collective of greater Wellington talent around the show which has played to appreciative full houses over the last two years.
The collective brings extensive touring experience with members having performed in Australia, America and parts of Europe. Drawing from a wide range of genres including metal, reggae, celtic rock, jazz and gospel, members have performed with international acts such as Hollie Smith, Renae Gayer, Motorhead and the Blind Boys of Alabama. The Caramello’s are currently recording their first live album.
The Caramello’s line up for this show will be Tim L Brown (vocals, guitars), Steven “Dog” Hall (vocals, lead guitar, banjo), Christopher “Bear” Anderson (harp and vocals), Kura Maukau (vocals), Richard Szabo (keys), Jason Hotton (drum), Derek Johnson (bass), special guest vocalist and violinist Black Eyed Suzie and backing vocalists Annette Esquenet and Steph Casey.