Taking as his prime influence the piano style of New Orleans, a potent gumbo of barrelhouse, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and boogie woogie, Diz ‘Honeybear’ Watson is now one of its quintessential exponents. Diz’s great inspiration is Professor Longhair aka Henry Roland Byrd.
Diz was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in l948, and at the age of 12 the family moved back to Yorkshire, England. Diz formed a friendship with the legendary ‘Champion’ Jack Dupree, who had settled in Halifax. ‘Jack really inspired me to the more prehistoric rolling sound of the piano and also the way to phrase the blues poetry.’
When he left school Diz joined the Merchant Navy as a navigator travelling the globe. Five years later he settled in Plymouth where he studied the piano, having watched his mother playing years before. Diz perfected his style in various combos before forming the Doormen, a flexible entity, the nucleus of which was the great Kieran O'Connor (drums), Pete Scott (bass) and Pete Thomas (saxophone).
ln November 1981 Diz and the Doormen recorded Bluecoat Man for Ace Records, London. This record received rave reviews from both sides of the Atlantic and the session included Fats Domino sideman Walter Kimble, Roger Lewis and - king of them all - Lee Allen, who after the session said Diz is one of the 'rockin’est piano players in the world'.
Since 1985 Diz has been living in Europe and making the occasional visit to the Caribbean and the U.S A., and he is now making quite a name for himself in Ireland. ‘They like the humour,’ says Diz, ‘especially when I do some of those old Cousin Joe tunes like Juice on the Loose and Evolution."
Diz appears at 2:30pm at Solihull Arts Complex and 7pm at Cafe Rouge, The Mailbox on Friday 5th and at 1pm at Soho House and 5:40pm at The Sacks of Potatoes on Saturday 6th