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Darren Watson Reaches Out For Support via Crowdfunding

20 May 2014

Darren Watson Reaches Out For Public Support
Will Crowdfunding Replace Record Companies?

Wellington musician Darren Watson is hoping that crowd-funding will help him complete the production of his new album. He needs $5,000 to finish recording, mixing, mastering, artwork, printing, and manufacturing. So he's set up a campaign which runs until Monday the 9th of June for people to contribute directly at

PledgeMe is a New Zealand based crowd-funding website that specialises in supporting Kiwi creativity.

Watson is a recent convert to the crowd-funding model. He says“ Without crowd-funding I'm not sure a lot of decent music outside of the commercial pop sphere would even get made now.”

The former leader of successful 80s band Chicago Smoke Shop, Watson has been writing and performing music for over three decades, and has seen a lot of changes in that time.

“When we started out there was no way to effectively get anywhere without a record deal, and often the record companies paid bands advances on royalities to record singles and albums. Those days are long gone for most acts.” says Watson. “I see crowd-funding as a democratic replacement for those advances, direct from fans.”

So far, Darren and his partner have invested about $10,000 on the new album. When they recently ran out of funds, someone suggested crowd-funding the balance needed to get the album made. It was an idea he initially resisted.

Watson says “I guess I kind of saw it as begging, but then took another long look at it and realised everyone wins. We hopefully get the money to finish the record and people get at least a copy of the new CD, and we're offering some other really cool rewards like house and Sykpe concerts. Plus I saw that people had got in behind Midge Marsden's latest album, so thought I'd give it a go too."

Last year Midge Marsden successfully raised over $15,000 with PledgeMe to record his Back To The Well CD. An album that coincidentally leads off with Love Is An Ocean, a song Darren wrote and released on his 2010 album Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy.

View the selection of rewards and make a pledge at

Darren Watson: Background and Reviews
Darren Watson gained New Zealand fame in the 80s as the fresh-faced, young front-man and guitarslinger for Chicago Smoke Shop. The band made two charting albums, had several radio hits, opened for international blues legends like Koko Taylor, Robert Cray, George Thorogood, & The Fabulous Thunderbirds. They toured tirelessly earning Watson a place alongside the likes of Midge Marsden, Hammond Gamble and Rick Bryant as one of New Zealand's best bluesmen.

Since leaving Smoke Shop in the early 90's he has cemented his reputation as the country's most original, contemporary blues voice, with three albums of world-class blues music: 2002's Tui-nominated King Size, 2005's South Pacific Soul, and 2010's internationally acclaimed Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy. During this time Darren also fulfilled a life-long ambition working alongside one of his childhood R&B heroes, touring extensively as sideman for Midge Marsden and, more recently performing as side-man to Chicago blues harmonica legend Billy Boy Arnold. He's also opened for New Orleans funkster Dr. John, Doug McLeod, Joe Cocker, Keb Mo, and nu-soul exponent Eli 'Paperboy' Reed, as well as appearing at WOMAD.

Watson gained international recognition in 2009 when he won the blues section of the International Songwriting Competition as judged by John Mayall, James Cotton, and Tom Waits amongst others.

Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy, Darren Watson’s most recent album, received glowing reviews worldwide. The album was singled out by Blues Revue USA as “beautiful”.

“Watson is at the top of his game now . . .”
Simon Sweetman, NZ Musician

“You're a mutha!”
Rick Holmstrom (Mavis Staples Band)

"Stunning emotion. Darren Watson is outstanding!"
Crossroads Magazine (France)

“Darren Watson plays the blues with skill and conviction that's more than impressive. It's scary.”
Nick Bollinger, RIP IT UP

“Song-writing as sharp as a spear...”
Grant Smithies (Sunday Star Times)

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