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From the Highlands to the Islands: Celtica Pipes Rock

Bagpipe rock is an international phenomenon and one that’s caught on in Hawaii.

Celtica Pipes Rock will appear for the fourth time in Hawaii and the third on the Big Island, playing at 7 p.m. Saturday at Honokaa People’s Theatre.

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Like the music itself, the band is also an international outfit, featuring pipers Duncan Knight and Jane Espie from Scotland; guitarist Gajus Stappen, bassist Harald Weinkum and drummer Thomas Cadek from Austria; and violinist Aya Georgieva from Bulgaria.

“The audiences we’ve encountered during our four visits to Hawaii have been great,” Knight told the Tribune-Herald last week. “They’ve always greeted our music with real enthusiasm and the numbers in attendance grows every time.”

Celtica rocked Honokaa in November 2016, and Knight said the band is eager to return.

“The stage is a decent size. It may not be as big as some stages we’ve played, but it’s a lot bigger than some and it gives us the opportunity to move around and interact with each other, which really helps us to build up energy in the performance,” he said. “The slope in the auditorium gives everyone in the audience a great view of the stage as well as allowing us to see them really well. The floor space between the audience and the stage does leave a bit of a gap between us, but last time round we managed to entice people up out of their seats and dancing, which really created a great atmosphere. Hopefully we’ll encounter the same enthusiasm again this time.”

New at the merchandise table is a double CD, “Live at Montelago,” released late last year.

“The live CD was recorded at Montelago Celtic Festival in Italy last August. It features new arrangements of our latest studio album, “Steamphonia,” as well as some of our favourite tracks from the previous three albums,” Knight explained. “The new arrangements feature orchestra and choir, which we had perform live with us for the show. … We performed to an audience of several thousand on a warm summer evening. We had a great light show to go along with the music and could utilize our pyrotechnics to great effect.”

Pyrotechnics, by the way, won’t be allowed in this show, as the theater was built in 1930.

Celtica plays bagpipe standards such as “Amazing Grace” and “Scotland the Brave,” Celtic classics such as “What Shall You Do With a Drunken Sailor” and “Whiskey in the Jar,” plus rock faves including “Smoke on the Water,” “Thunderstruck” and “We Will Rock You.”

The title track from “Steamphonia” has an epic, ominous, dramatic movie soundtrack feel to it.

The band tours extensively in Europe and the U.S. and recently played a number of Canadian dates, as well.

“We had a couple of months off over the winter and, in all honesty, the break was welcome,” Knight said. “Last year, we kicked off our tour at the beginning of March here in the U.S. and went back and forth between here and central Europe until sometime in December.

“This year looks very similar, but we’re all rested and eager to be on the road again. We’ll be performing at various different venues and festivals over the course of the year, from the Highland Games in Texas to medieval festivals in Germany and just about everything in between.”

Knight said the band has made “quite a few friends in Hawaii” and is looking forward to reconnecting with them.

“I understand that there are a few parties that have been organized while we’re here and it will be nice to relax a bit in between shows,” he said. “Other than that, a few, possibly all of us plan to go skydiving. Only Jane has done it before and she’s really got the bug for it. It’s something that I’ve always fancied doing. And now I have the chance, it couldn’t be in a more perfect location.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25 advance, $30 door. Advance tickets are available at CD Wizard, Hilo Ukulele & Guitar and Hilo Music Exchange in Hilo; Keaau Natural Foods; Top Stitch and Waipio Cook House in Honokaa; Waimea General Store in Parker Square; Kona Music Exchange in Kailua-Kona; and Kiernan Music in Old Town Kainaliu. They’re also available at 896-4845 and online at bluesbearhawaii.com.

Website: www.celticarocks.com

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Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.