Hanz Araki spent much of his youth on Bainbridge Island, but has since moved beyond its shores, singing a song along the way.
This month, he will return to the island with his music in mind. Araki, along with musical partner Kathryn Claire, will perform their unique blend of Celtic music at the Treehouse Café at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11.
“It’s really fun,” Araki said. “There are some humorous songs, darker songs. They have great stories behind them and they’re very up beat.”
Araki began his musical journey as a child with two influential parents.
“My dad is Japanese, and on his side of the family I’m the sixth generation shakuhachi player,” he said.
The shakuhachi is a traditional Japanese flute. Araki took his skills on the instrument to Japan where he lived for a short while after high school. When he returned to the states, Araki’s passions moved toward another musical influence of the Celtic variety.
“My mother is Irish ... so it’s no coincidence,” he said. “I listened to the Chieftains when I was younger and I was a big fan of the Pogues.”
The Celtic scene led Araki to Portland, Ore. where he is now based. Through the folk music community he ran into Claire, whose musical journey somewhat echoed his own.
“I have been into music since I was a kid,” she said. “I started with the violin and singing, and started playing guitar in high school.”
Like Araki, Claire came from a traditional instrumental background. But after high school she, too, began to expand into folk music.
“I was a classical violinist, and started playing fiddle in my early 20s and switched to more folk and Irish music,” she said.
Since they began working together they performed in various bands that came and went. But the two always managed to stick together. The formed Celtic Conspiracy to house their collective efforts, and perform under their own names.
“We’ve steered away from a band name because it’s just the two of us,” Claire said. “And we’ve been in bands that break up, and our names will never change.”
Over the past year, the two have also released four albums, each based on a season. The albums were well-received, especially overseas. The albums earned the duo the title of Vocal/Instrumental Group of the Year by LiveIreland online radio.
Together the two musicians weave a unique blend of Celtic music that draws from traditional roots, but bears their own personal touch.
“It’s Celtic root music without borders,” Claire said. “We don’t specifically do Irish music, we do Scottish and English music. Both of us are into this Spanish Celtic music. Folk music is found all over the world.”
“There’s a really broad variety of music that we do,” Araki said. “We generally tend to surprise people.”