The final issue of the Journal of the North American Association of Lowland and Border Pipers is dated July 1994. In it Brian and Michelle McCandless explained that they could no longer commit the time necessary to assemble and edit the journal, and they extended an invitation for another interested person to step forward and carry the torch they so ably ignited only four years earlier. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that this didn’t happen. Brian was clearly an extremely intelligent, able, inspired and apparently unique individual.
Last, but not least, is surely an appropriate description and this issue does not disappoint. It is primarily devoted to a number of technical topics, beginning with an interesting essay on different types of wood for the manufacture of Scottish bagpipes by Hamish Moore’s father David. A tropical forester by profession, after his retirement David helped Hamish start his pipe making business in the 1980s, and it is clear that his technical expertise was most useful to the business.
Piper’s Gathering stalwarts Bruce Childress and Mike Dow both made contributions in this issue. Bruce provided insightful reaction to Patrick Skye’s earlier plea for standardization of Uilleann pipe construction, and Mike advocated for honey mesquite as a superior American wood for building bagpipes.
Also in No. 7 is another classic piping travelogue by Alan Jones, who tells the story of shipping his extensive bagpipe collection from Canada to the Scottish Borders for a museum exhibition, and his associated trip around the border region to check in with the great bellows piping movers, shakers and makers.
There is a fairly large selection of reviews – recordings, music books, history books, etc. all of which can be fairly described as classics in our own little corner of the musical world. The issue concludes with music for seven tunes and a long section of advertisements.
As I finished proof reading our web version of this issue, I found myself wondering if the NAALBP had any real life beyond the journal and the single get-together that the McCandless’s sponsored in Maryland. Did the Association continue in any capacity after his final publication? Perhaps some of the people who participated back then and are still involved in piping today could help APNA create a post script to the Association’s story. Please contact us if you have any recollections you would like to share.
My guess is that having only about 200 members on a land mass as large as North America just wasn’t (and isn’t) enough to reach the critical mass necessary to keep together an organization that couldn’t meet face to face due simply to geography. Apparently we are able to support a once a year meeting like The Piper’s Gathering in Vermont, which has been a continuous presence since before the Journal burst upon the scene. Long live The Pipers’ Gathering and, now that it is on line, The NAALBP Journal as well.
All the Journal issues can be accessed from the NAALBP Archives drop down menu at the top of the page, or go directly to Journal No.7 here.