Duncan Knight loves heavy metal. He also is proud to salute his Scottish heritage. As a bagpiper in the band Celtica, Knight is able to pay tribute to both.
"We definitely keep a focus on bagpipes, which I have played since I was 10,'' Knight said in an interview. "But it's a wild stage show.''
On Saturday, Celtica will be one of three Celtic rock bands performing at the Dunedin Celtic Festival for the first time. The others include the Fighting Jamesons, whose style is reminiscent of well-known Celtic rockers like the Pogues and Flogging Molly, and the Killdares of Dallas, which features world champion fiddler Roberta Rast.
"We are trying to continue bringing in younger people to the festival,'' explained Alan McHale, president of Dunedin Highland Games and Festival Committee. "And I think these bands will do it. They will bring in people who will see Celtic music who otherwise would not be exposed to it.''
When the five band members of Celtica take the stage playing their bagpipes, fiddles, guitars and drums, they'll present their take on heavy metal classics including covers of AC/DC, Deep Purple, Queen and Journey.
"The bagpipes replace the lead singer,'' Knight said. "The sound works very well with electric guitars and drums.''
This year's festival, in its 14th year, will also see the return of two local favorites — Tampa-based Juniper, a Celtic folk duo, and Seven Nations of Orlando, whose name is referring to the seven original Celtic nations of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Galecia, Isle of Man and Brittany.
Although the festival's purpose is to raise funds for the three Dunedin bagpipe bands, the two serving Dunedin Middle and Dunedin High, as well as the Dunedin adult pipe band, it also keeps Dunedin's Celtic history alive.
"Dunedin was first created by two Scots in the 19th century (J.O. Douglas and James Sumerville), and we have seen over the years that their values of friendship, camaraderie and community and their heritage of the Scottish nation has stuck with individuals here,'' McHale said.
Although Celtica has performed in Pensacola, the Celtic Festival marks Knight's first visit to Dunedin, and he is anxious to check out the city's offerings.
"Dunedin is (the Gaelic interpretation of) Edinburgh in Gaelic,'' he said. "I'm not surprised that two Scots started Dunedin because we know that many left Scotland at that time, but I am curious as to what Dunedin is like.''
When asked what he thinks Douglas and Sumerville's reaction would be if they could see a Scottish bagpiper Skyping about a rock show in Dunedin, Knight laughed.
"They would be quite amazed,'' he said. "I don't know if they'd like our music, but I hope they would, and if I had the chance, I'd ask them what it was like to leave their home and go so far away. I'd love to hear how it felt to be Scottish in a new place.''
Piper Castillo is reachable at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.