North American Association of Lowland and Border Piping Journal 1990-94 Back in “Print”

By Glenn Dreyer

Inspired by a March 2006 post on the Dunsire Bagpipe Forums by Nova Scotian piper Barry Shears about the North American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers (NAALBP) Journal, and the possibility of restarting such an organization, I sought out copies of the publication to scan for my own personal use. Longtime alternative piper Steve Bliven of Massachusetts kindly loaned me a nearly complete set, with Laurie Franklin rounding out the full seven issues by loaning me issue No. 1.

The origins of the NAALBP can be traced to the annual North American Northumbrian Pipers’ Convention, which later became the famed Pipers’ Gathering. Started in North Hero, Vermont in 1985 by Alan Jones, the Convention welcomed all types of bellows pipers, and it seems to have been this venue that encouraged “alternative” pipers to get a bit more organized. The NAALBP was established as a membership organization four years later under the leadership of Brian McCandless, Alan Jones and Mike MacNintch at a time when enthusiasm for alternative piping in North American was peaking in a small, but very enthusiastic, group of musicians. While there were certainly some meetings and jam sessions of Association members during the early 1990s, the most significant legacy of their efforts now, nearly two decades later, is undoubtedly the Journal.

Brian and his wife Michelle were responsible for editing and publishing the NAALBP journal, which was launched in July 1990 and ended with No. 7 in July 1994. As those who pour through the issues like I have will soon learn, they are packed with very interesting articles on the history of the pipes and pipers, as well as articles from contemporary players, collectors and pipe makers, with many illustrations and pipe tunes included.

After scanning the journals into Adobe Acrobat files, I sent a digital set to Brian McCandless, who had hoped to post them to his personal website. Unfortunately this was not to be, and so, five years later, and with the blessing of Brian and Mike, we at APNA are very pleased to make these journals available to pipers the world over. Nate Banton used an OCR program to convert the scanned text into our website format and it is very readable. Unfortunately the quality of many of the photos and some illustrations is often rather poor. This is primarily due to the nature of the original printed versions, which were understandably produced without benefit of the budgets necessary to reproduce photographs with maximum clarity.

The NAALBP and its journal were the inspiration for Nate, Barry, John and me to start the Alternative Pipers of North America (APNA), and we consider it an honor and a privilege to provide a new life for their worthy efforts.

We will be posting each issue of the journal separately, starting with No. 1 from July, 1990. Of particular interest in this issue are articles by Brian McCandless on the description and nomenclature of the lowland and border bagpipes, another by Brian on the relationship between pastoral and uilleann pipes, and reminiscences about Scottish smallpipes by Sam Grier. There is also a description of the 1989 North Hero Convention which is certainly of historic interest.  You can access the journals from the NAALBP Archives drop down menu, or Journal #1 by clicking HERE.

In the interest of reproducing the journals in their entirety, we have not edited them in any way. As one would expect, this and subsequent issues make reference to addresses and phone numbers, pipe makers, suppliers, recordings, and books that may not longer be in service or available.