Scotland’s Battlefield Band Plays Pittsburgh Saturday

In the world of Scottish contemporary music, Battlefield Band is a household name. The “lads” will return to Pittsburgh for the first time this century at 8 p.m. Saturday at Central Catholic High School in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

The band was founded by a group of pals in 1969 and named after a section of Glasgow. The members pioneered the mix of Highland bagpipes and smallpipes with fiddle, guitar, keyboards and voice. They play traditional tunes as well as originals under the banner “Forward with Scotland’s Past.”

This tour, in support of its 2009 CD “Zama Zama Try Your Luck” is significant because it is founding member Alan Reid’s last and young piper Ewen Henderson’s first. Piper Mike Katz, fiddler Alasdair White and guitarist Sean O’Donnell will join them.

“The band is very old. We’ve had a lot of people change in the time frame but still have had a lot of stability,” Katz said during a break in recording new tracks in the band’s Scotland studio. Katz is an L.A. native who moved to Scotland at age 18 and joined the band in 1997.

Henderson, 23, comes from a centuries-old piping family in the Highland town of Fort William. When White asked him to join, “It was a pretty quick decision,” said Henderson, who before now played mostly Highland ceilidhs (dances).

He is excited to be working on the band’s newest recording, which they hope to complete in December. He also is looking forward to his first trip to the States. After hanging up from this interview, he and O’Donnell were boarding a ferry to Northern Ireland to secure their passports.

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