B i o g r a p h y
With twenty years experience as a professional musician, performer and music tutor, Neil continues to perform and record with a huge array of national and international artists spanning a wide variety of musical genres. He has performed with jazz masters such as Michael Brecker, Diane Shuur and Mike Nock along with pop artists such as The Finn Brothers, Anika Moa, Randy Crawford and most recently Tami Neilson. Along with his teaching, sideman duties, musical theatre, recording and TV session work he continues to develop his unique hybrid style as a solo artist through varying performances, practices, recordings and line-ups.
Has Worked With:
Michael Brecker, Guy Sebastian, Ali Campbell (UB40), Eddie Rayner (ENZO), Anika Moa, Tim Finn, Carly Binding, Randy Crawford, Murray McNabb, Bill Cunliff, Mike Nock, The Finn Bro’s, Greg Johnson, Mel Parsons, Des O Conner, John Rowles, Tina Cross, Midge Marsden, Dick Oates, Bennie Maupin, Lucy Lawless, Malcolm McNeill, Peter Urlich, Knowers Ark, Rodger Fox, Jordan Luck, Andy Brown, Nathan Haines, Caitlin Smith, Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, Frank Gibson, Auckland Theatre Company, Kevin Mahogany, Gregg Bissonette, Diane Schuur, ‘Pop's Ultimate Star’ (T.V.), ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ (T.V.) etc.
Auckland born in 1978, Neil began to play the guitar at the impressionable age of eleven after becoming transfixed during Eric Clapton’s 1990 Auckland Super-top concert. After initially emulating classic blues/rock players such as Clapton, Hendrix and S.R.V, Neil then turned his hand to the discipline of Jazz at the age of sixteen. In 1996 he won multiple awards at the Tauranga National Jazz festival. With aspirations of studying overseas after finishing highschool Neil was accepted into and received small scholarships to both the New School of Music (New York) and Berklee College of Music (Boston) but was unable to attend due to the house deposit sized fees. Instead he focused on an intense ‘wood shedding’ period during his late teenage years and took every musical opportunity and gig that came his way.
Over the last twenty years he has performed with everyone ranging from jazz masters Michael Brecker, Diane Shuur, Mike Knock and Bennie Maupin to pop artists Guy Sebastian, Ali Campbell (UB40), Eddie Rayner (ENZO), and entertainers Des O’Conner, John Rowles and Lucy Lawless to name a few. He has also worked with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, in musical theatre, and TV session work.
As a sideman he has recorded on over two dozen released recordings with artists that include ‘The Finn Brothers’, Anika Moa, Randy Crawford, Sola Rosa, Elemenop, Caitlin Smith, Mel Parsons, Phil Broadhurst, Tina Cross and the late Murray McNabb.
Internationally Neil has performed at the Monterey, Noum’ea and Vanuatu Jazz festivals, the Brixton Academy (London), the International Association of Jazz Educators (Los Angeles), and club dates in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and throughout Australia.
Long haul touring credits include Tim Finn, Anika Moa and more recently Tami Neilson.
2001 saw the release of Neil’s debut album 'Unification' from which the track ‘Guru’ received substantial student radio airplay and was released on Kog Transmissions ‘Dub Compilations 3’.
Under his own name Neil has performed opening slots for American guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Robert Plant), George Benson and Al Jarreau.
Some of the musicians Neil currently works with include Tami Neilson, New Zealands jazz legend Frank Gibson and Peter Urlich. He also performs with his own groups ‘The Doughboys’ and the ‘Neil Watson 3’.
Neil taught, tutored and lectured at the University of Auckland’s School of Music Jazz and Popular music programmes from 2003 till the end of 2018.
Along with his teaching and sideman duties Neil continues to diversify across musical genres and develop his unique sound as a solo artist through varying performances, practices, recordings and line-ups.
February 2017 brought the release of Neil Watson’s second album distributed by Southbound Records. ‘Studies In Tubular’ unifies New Orleans Boogaloo, 70’s Funk, Surf Rock and Jazz into an all-original 9-track album.
Shortland Street (The Musical) - 2018
Auckland Theatre Company
Prescilla (The Musical) - 2016
Lunchbox Production - The Civic Theatre
Dust to Dusky - 2016
Auckland Art fest, Speigeltent, Aotea Sq.
Mama Mia! - 2014
Auckland Music Theatre - The Civic Theatre
Rent the Musical - 2010
Auckland Music Theatre - The Civic Theatre
Sweet Charity 2006
Auckland Theatre Company - Sky City Theatre
Film & Television:
This is Not who we are
New Zeland’s Got Talent Season 3
New Zeland’s Got Talent Season 2
Kiwi Flyer (Film)
Stars in Their Eyes (NZ) Season 2
Stars in Their Eyes (NZ) Season 1
Pop’s Ultimate Star
Three Martini’s (Short Film)
Recent International Tours / Performances
Corporate Toyota Event,
European Tour with Tami Neilson