Celtica Nova is back on the road, full of grit & energy
After a two-year hiatus, the rockin’ bagpipes of Celtica Nova returned to the Big Island last Saturday for a Palace Theater show with special guests, the Hawaii Irish Dance troupe. Some 400 fans turned out for the Celtic rock band featuring a new bagpiper and watched them rip it up in another dynamic performance – their fifth year here!
Celtica Nova was last scheduled to play the Big Island in March of 2020 during their St. Patrick’s Day tour. Local fans were anxious to see them, as their shows here have become an annual Spring event. But the band’s touring plans evaporated when venues and airports shut down with Covid concerns. They even considered making a t-shirt with an optimistic message, “It was coronavirus, but I still supported live music.”
Bassist Harald Weinkum notes that touring is a lot different in 2022. “The energy at the festivals we play now is no different from three years ago, but gas is three times higher! We used to supplement our shows with a merchandise table, but with inflation, people turn around after they find out we’re on Spotify. So, a lot of the money we used to make from selling CDs is going away simultaneously. Our show in Hawaii probably won’t be profitable, but we’re hoping to come home with our travel expenses paid and great memories.”
Since 2020, Celtica Nova has made a few changes to its line-up – Jane Espie, the group’s familiar female bagpiper, is now working at a hospital in Scotland and was replaced by Chelsea Joy, who sometimes goes by the moniker “Dame of Drones.” She’s originally from Bakersfield, CA, and has been a guest player since 2017. “This by far is the best band experience I’ve ever had!” said Joy before the Palace show.
Joining Joy on stage was guitarist Helfried Krainer, drummer Nathan Brown, and original bassist Harald Weinkum. Joy acts as the frontperson, encouraging the crowd (especially the kids) to come up front and dance. Without hesitation, many filled in the tight area, and those with really long hair flung it front to back in rhythm to the music. “We’re here to rock your face off!” shouted Joy.
Highlighting Celtica Nova’s lively concert was the Hawaii Irish Dance troupe. The Big Island ensemble features eight women dancers who were invited on stage twice to perform for the audience. At the same time, five men dressed in traditional kilts waved various country flags as the women danced collectively and individually.
The band’s setlist was peppered with songs from their catalog and a few classic rockers like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and The White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army.”
The two-hour, two-set show concluded with “Amazing Grace.” Apparently, the band was having as much fun on stage as the Palace audience.
Hawaii may not be the place you’d associate with Scottish or Celtic culture. Still, you can find a handful of Irish pubs, the Hawaiian Scottish Festival, and the annual Highland Games held in Honolulu.
Saturday’s performance marked the end of Celtica Nova’s mid-year tour, and they’ll be back on the road in November. A new album is in the works with a release date in 2023.
Listen to an exclusive interview with bassist Harald Weinkum.
Notes & Links
Steamphonia | Itchy Fingers | Drunken Sailor | Loch Lomond | Film music medley | Scotland the Brave/Drowsy Chaperone | Rock You | Cork | Megawatt | Game of Thrones |
Whiskey in the Jar | Happy Birthday | Shipping Up to Boston | Atholl | Suo Gan | Excalibur | Gravel Walks | Sky Boat | Don’t Stop Believing |
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: ©2022 Steve Roby. Images are available for licensing.
Performance date: 24/September/2022
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