Published: May 31, 2004

78th Highlanders (Halifax) appoint interim bass drummer

Sean Allen is the new interim bass drummer of the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), taking the place of his father, renowned bass drummer Luke Allen while he recovers from illness.

The younger Allen is highly regarded as a bass drummer, having played the big drum with the Toronto Police. He also played with the Toronto-based 78th Fraser Highlanders in the 1980s as a side drummer.

In a remarkable twist, while Sean Allen will travel some 2,000 miles from Toronto for band practices in Halifax, he’ll probably pass his counterpart with the 78th Fraser Highlanders (Toronto), John Rowe, on his way.

Rowe, who used to play with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel), joined the 78th Fraser Highlanders (Toronto) in the off-season after the departure of the latter band’s famous bass drummer, Craig Colquhoun.

“Luke is recovering well from his recent illness and we’re all optimistic that he’ll be up to full strength again in the near future,” said Roderick MacLean, Pipe-Major of the 78th Highlanders (Halifax). “In the meantime, however, Luke suggested that his son Sean would be best suited to fill in while he recovers. Sean, like his father, is an accomplished musician and we feel very fortunate to have the services of two generations of Allens for the upcoming contest season.”

Luke Allen, one of the pipe band world’s most well liked people, encountered health problems over the winter, limiting his ability to continue with the 78th Highlanders (Halifax). He made his mark as bass drummer with the 78th Fraser Highlanders (Toronto) when the band won the World Championship 17 years ago, and played with the Polkemmet Pipe Band in Scotland in the 1990s.

Said one pipe band insider, “That’s pipe band politics for you. Maybe the two bass drummers should switch apartments on the weekends.”

The 78th Highlanders (Halifax) are the current North American and Canadian pipe band champions.

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