Formed in 1985, Chicago Smoke Shop was a roaring force in New Zealand, becoming not only the number one blues band in the land, but one of the most popular crowd-pulling acts in the country, period.
Formed around a core of blues mad Hutt Valley teenagers Darren Watson on vocals and guitar with the brothers Te One, Richard on drums and Aaron on guitar, filled out with the best of Wellington’s available musicians – including a kick-ass horn section, they regularly toured the length and breadth of the country as headliners. They also toured with just about every blues-based international act that played in New Zealand at the time. Many Kiwi blues fans have fond memories of seeing the band open for Chicago’s ‘Queen Of The Blues’ Koko Taylor in 1988, The Robert Cray Band in 1987 and 1988, George Thorogood & The Destroyers in 1989, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1990.
Unusual for blues bands then and now, Smoke Shop also had a series of original hit singles including Mind On My Sleeve and Another Man. The group garnered multiple NZ music award nominations, had music video award success, and produced two charting LPs. This year they’re reforming for one festival… performing together with a stonking 10-piece, horn-driven line-up for the first time in almost thirty years… and that one festival is Out of the Blue.